Mark Louis Roach, 61, transitioned on August 24, 2021. He was a beloved father, grandfather, life partner, uncle, and friend. A former board member and healer at Sarasota Center of Light, Mark was happiest when helping others and mastered the love language of “acts of service.”
Mark was born on November 27, 1959, on a military base in Berlin, Germany to Shirley Mae Hinrichs and Edward Roach. The family moved to Richfield, Minnesota so sons Jim, Mike, and Mark could grow up surrounded by Shirley’s extended family. Mark often said the first chapter of his life was spent playing. Happiest on the ice hockey rink, he and his close circle of friends spent their youth enjoying adventures, from travel to sports. Even work was fun for a man who found joy in every scenario. Most would never know that a tragic accident in 1968 - a car hit him while on his bicycle - left him in chronic pain for the remainder of his life. His beloved mother and best friend, Shirley, urged the doctors not to amputate his leg. Despite multiple surgeries and debilitating physical challenges, Mark continued to play and wore his trademark dimpled smile throughout his life. His kindness, charm, and dashing good looks contributed to a successful career in car sales, working in tandem with his brother, Jim.
The brothers traveled to what Mark often said were “the prettiest places in America.” Stints in Florida, Colorado, Arizona, and California were filled with laughter and great memories. When he was about to turn 30, Shirley said, “Son, if you don’t settle down soon, you never will.” He listened.
The second chapter of Mark’s life was devoted to family. Over the course of his 25-year marriage to Margaret Roach, he made happy memories and loved being dad to Jon Devin, Uriah, and daughter, Tara Nicole. Tara gave him a treasured gift when he became Grandpa to her son, Gavin. Career-wise, he reinvented himself and found fulfillment running the West Hollywood division of Western Pacific methadone clinic. His leadership skills flourished, but he ultimately navigated back to running the truck service division at Sunrise Ford to best provide for his family. Regular trips to Disneyland and neighborhood cookouts were highlights of the many happy memories shared in Granada Hills, California.
Debilitating pain led him to leave full-time employment. And as his marriage ended, he remembered where he had been happiest. The third and final chapter of Mark’s life brought him to Sarasota, Florida, home to the best beach in the world and the backdrop for laughter-filled family trips to visit his Aunt Irene Hinrichs, who had lived there.
This chapter was characterized by a spiritual awakening…and true love. Aunt Irene’s son, cousin Craig Hinrichs, offered him a temporary room while Mark settled into his new life. While there, Mark was captivated by a book entitled The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. He began talking to his cousin about the concepts contained in the book, which made sense to him. Be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best became the guideposts that defined the final chapter of his life.
The beach also played a starring role. He laughingly called Lido Beach his new “office” and went there regularly on his beloved 20th-anniversary edition Harley Davidson. His temporary residence with Craig turned into six years. During his time at Bay Bluff, Mark became a beloved member of that community, helping many residents with projects that required a “fixer.” Mark also devoted himself to learning about spirituality, attending the Center for Positive Living, and ultimately joined Sarasota Center of Light, serving as a healer and Board member at the church.
He missed engaging with people in a work environment, so picked up work two days a week at Speedway on Washington Boulevard in Sarasota. Happy to greet people and serve as a cashier, Mark would chuckle when customers inevitably assumed he was the manager. He took pride in any job he took on. On Mark’s watch, every tool had a home, every cable was wrapped perfectly, and every surface was wiped clean.
Finally, in 2017 he set an intention to find “an alike person” with whom he could share his life. After a series of uninspiring dates, he toyed with taking down his Plenty of Fish profile. Simultaneously, Brenda Viola tentatively joined the site and, after a few disappointing dates was similarly inclined to exit the online dating world.
Fate had other plans.
Mark had seen Brenda’s profile and thought she was “out of his league.” Brenda had seen Mark’s and wondered, “Why hasn’t he tried to connect with me?” One night, she swallowed her pride and wrote two words to the profile named “DimpleLouie.”
“Nice dimple,” she wrote.
Days passed with no reply, but simply because Mark had no expectations that his alike person would be found online. Just as she was going to pull her profile and go dark, he saw her message and replied, “Well hello, WordGirl (Brenda’s screen name).” Pleasant e-mails led to a first phone conversation on November 11th that lasted hours, and eventually, a plan to meet. When Brenda suggested a gelato shop on Main Street, Mark replied, “Honey, I’d meet you on the moon.”
Inseparable from that point on, Brenda had only one complaint. “Mark called everyone honey. I wanted something different.” He considered her request and decided her name would be “Angel.” People who met the couple thought that was her real name, because that’s all he ever called her.
During their magical time together, the couple visited Yosemite and the northern California coast. They spent two weeks in Santorini, Greece and he had the pleasure of smoking a cigar at the Ritz in London. Weekends were spent feeling the wind on the Harley, looking at neighborhoods of mansions in Casey Key or setting up a blanket on the beach in Anna Maria Island.
When her lease was up for renewal in 2018, they knew it was time to take the next step and they fell in love with a newly renovated home in Gulf Gate. People often asked if the couple had plans to marry. Mark’s reply? “A piece of paper isn’t proof of commitment. I bought power tools!” His home (and perfectly organized garage) was a testament to the pride he took in a job well done. And his priority - from the moment they became a couple - was to lavish his Angel with the kind of love she once thought was only found in fairy tales.
Mark’s philosophy in life was that we are here to do two things: To learn and to love. He devoured books and documentaries, but he excelled even greater at loving. And all who knew him were better for the experience.
A private, virtual ceremony to honor Mark’s life will be held on Sunday, September 19th.