Friend with lessons for us all


The size of the crowd at Mark Holm’s memorial service in Albuquerque on Saturday told me he was valued as much for his grace as a person as his talent as a photojournalist.

Several hundred people turned out, I’d guess. This struck me as exceptional for a newspaper person, especially for we 60-somethings, who started in journalism environments more caustic than are acceptable today.

No excuses, though. Mark Holm probably always would have been exemplary, then or now. His brother, Peter, said yesterday that it just wasn’t in Mark’s nature to be fierce or competitive. He had another way.

Many friends and co-workers already had described him as a quiet but kind and generous guy — and these seem to be among the keys: a patient, mirthful and encouraging co-coworker; and a mentor to many younger people coming up in the business. We were not close friends, and I did not know him well, but working with him always felt good. My recurring image is that he always had a smile for you — for everyone. I always thought he had an aura; I understand now it was the aura of a beautiful person. I liked him from the start.

I believe respect begets respect and, in the long run, the same is true of kindness.

Mark’s grown-up kids — Alison, Mary Kate and Luke —  did wonderful jobs of remembering their father with poignant, well-chosen words, but all three also managed through grief and stress of public speaking to draw laughs from the big, tearful crowd. I suspect they learned the trick from their father, known for grinning under a mustache that one daughter, with what seemed like a familiar, gentle humor, described as “confident but not aggressive.”

Mark didn’t need a camera for a penetrating look. You saw genuine interest when he faced you — and you knew he listened, just as he studied through the lense. One of the recollections that impressed me most yesterday was a daughter describing a father with the patience and love to discover and build on what was unique in each of his three children.

It showed, Mark, in beauty Saturday.

I never get over wondering what’s fair about a good person dying, especially when they’re just 63. The loss seems so great I wouldn’t know what to suggest as consolation for Mark’s wife, Joan — who, by the way, I do not mean to overlook in the child-rearing equation here — or the rest of his family. But I am impressed with how much Mark Holm apparently meant to so many people.

So far, the only conclusion I’ve been able to draw from his passing is that I should try to be more like him.

And I probably should just move on alone with my thoughts, but I guess it’s the newspaperman in me that compels me to report on the memorial service. And word herder that I am, I’ll inflict one more cliche on my photographer friend: Here is a picture worth a thousand words.

mark holm

2 thoughts

  1. This is lovely, John, thanks for posting. For those of us who didn’t know Mark personally, your report evokes some important things to think about.


  2. His roots run deep to a profound respect for humanity as a body and people as individuals coupled with an impeccable eye for capturing moments. It was a sad day indeed, actually a sad year with the hints this could be the outcome, but you captured well yesterday’s brightness. I told Joan I was stepping back into the sunshine inspired. She smiled.

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