An obituary and a celebration of Mark W. Anderson

My friend Mark Anderson died this week. This is the unedited version of the obituary that will run in the Chicago-Sun Times. I will link to their version when it’s posted. UPDATE: Here it is.

We’re also trying to raise money to defray the cost of his end-of-life expenses. More information about that – along with samples of his work, memories from friends and any updates – are posted here.

As mentioned below, we will celebrate his life at Celtic Crossings (751 N.Clark, Chicago) at 230pm on Sunday March 8th. If you knew Mark personally or through his work, you’re invited to attend.

markwandersonJournalist, thinker and survivor Mark W. Anderson, 51, of Chicago, IL passed away on March 2nd, 2015 at Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter, Glenview after a yearlong battle against both cancer and Chicago machine politics. Though the cancer spread, the Machine is said to be in remission. Born December 11th, 1963 in Chicago he had several jobs, including one at a travel agency that introduced him to various parts of the European continent, before finding his place as a financial writer at Morningstar and other companies, bringing a creative verve to a dry topic. He later went on to form his own small communications firm.

Both a student and teacher of Chicago history and tavern culture and a lover in equal measure of rock, jazz and moments of quiet reflection, Anderson graduated from Columbia College with a B.A in journalism in 2005. He is best known as a writer for NBC’s Ward Room. In the tradition of Algren, he wrote of the faults of his beloved city but always believed in its capacity to be better. Through his writing and activism, he played significant roles in the elections of at least one Chicago alderman and a member of the Illinois House of Representatives. He is survived by his wife, Sarah, and several acts of journalism that reverberate to this day.

In keeping with his wishes, Anderson’s body was cremated. His spirit will be present in a celebration of his life at Celtic Crossings (751 N.Clark, Chicago) from 230-630pm on Sunday March 8th. It will be as he was: full of kind words, colorful stories and occasional vulgarities.

UPDATE: The following comes from Scotty Carlson.

Random memories of the late Mark W. Anderson, Columbia alum, Ward Room fighter, veteran of the Columbia Chronicle, and my friend:
– It’s 2003-2004 and I’m taking History of Journalism. Manders is the oldest student in the class, probably by about 10 years. He takes notes on a laptop every day. Other classmates, with notebooks and pens, think it’s a weird thing to do.
– It’s later that year. I’m a news editor on Columbia College’s Chronicle newspaper; Manders is an associate editor. Somehow we find out we’re both Beatle freaks. He gives me a printed copy of an email that his friend forwarded. His friend worked for Eric Idle’s touring concerts. The email is from Eric Idle, written on George Harrison’s home computer, regarding George’s health shortly before he passed.
– It’s 2009. We’re at Manders’ house in his front room. I bring two recent vinyl acquisitions — the Japanese pro-use pressing of ABBEY ROAD and a bootleg of GET BACK — to listen on his famed stereo. We sit in front of his speakers, not saying a word. Just smiling and listening.
– It’s 2010. Our friend and mentor, Jim Sulski, has passed away. Manders is the one — and the only former comrade of the Chronicle — to let me know. We go to Sulski’s funeral together. On the car ride home, we tell each other neither of us would have had the strength to go by ourselves.
– It’s 2013. Over the years, we’ve fallen out over stupid reasons, but we still keep in touch. I’m spending a month interning at the Grateful Dead archive. The archivist presents me with a tour program from the 1983 tour. I snap a pic and send it to Manders. He replies: “What’s funny is, I still have that very tour program, from my second set of Dead shows ever. I remember buying it at a little booth the first time I was at Alpine in 1984.”
– It’s late 2014. Mark emails me about his health issues and having to sell his beloved vinyl collection. He needs Kinks albums. I Dropbox him 6 gigabytes — everything I have. I tell him I’m coming back home for Christmas and want to see him. We try to schedule coffee. It’s the last time I hear from him.
Rest in peace, Manders.

6 comments for “An obituary and a celebration of Mark W. Anderson

  1. Todd Grove
    March 5, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Manders was my very best friend in the world 0h, the fun we had. 1981, we met as outcasts at Illinois State University and instantly became tight. Roommates followed, then a life of crime. He was the funniest man I ever met. With a sad heart, I waish I was there for him. It happened so fast. The memories flow incessantly. I’ll ha e to weit down someday. Quick one. He was in Lonson going to Highgate Cemetery when the Beelin Wall fell as he heard in the cab. He called me. “Guess what? I am going to be the only person on the planet to dance on Karl Marx’s grave!”

    • Margaret Wojcicki
      March 23, 2015 at 11:22 pm

      Hey Todd, I just discovered the news about Mark. I’m in absolute shock. I knew he had battled cancer but didn’t know how serious and quickly it took him.
      I just wanted to tell you how highly Mark always spoke of you and what a great friend you were to him.
      I never met Sarah but I’m sure she was a compliment to Mark’s crazy, smart sense of humor and quick wit.
      The world has lost a gem of a human being.

  2. Scott Alexander
    March 5, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    I only knew Mark for a brief time as a Technical Support person at Morningstar. But then he left to go back to school or something. One time I looked at Mark real serious and said, ‘Mark, all the hippie chicks with the crimson lips say, ‘Cleveland rocks, Cleveland rocks!’ He laughed. Another time I said, “Mark, you know people suck!” and he said “People always suck, it is when they don’t that it is noteworthy”. I really liked him and when he was leaving I told him I was going to sell his cube name plate on Ebay. He told me not to accept one penny less than what it was worth.

    He seemed like a really nice highly intelligent person and I hoped that our paths would have crossed again. I hope he was very happy with his life, his wife, and his career even though it was cut short.

  3. Patrick Grove
    March 6, 2015 at 10:25 am

    I met Manders as my brother’s college roommate when I was in high school. At first he was intimidating. Later he became my friend too. Mark made me laugh like I have never before. He opened my eyes to intelligence, thoughtfulness and humor – and grow as a person. I wish I had more moments with him. Mark will never be gone to me.

  4. Mark King
    March 19, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    Damn and Blast !
    College, Grateful Dead shows, Jazzfest, Pubs and lots of opining !
    Then drifting apart…
    Proud to finally learn that he was a big deal in Chicago political journalism… who knew?
    Our mutual hero Kurt Vonnegut would be pleased to know Mark was fighting for our representatives (who are NOT our leaders!) to be more honest.
    I haven’t seen him in years, but, dammit, now I’ll really miss him.
    So long, DarkMark

  5. Daniel Agusti
    December 30, 2015 at 1:07 am

    Sorry you and I haven’t met. I was with Mark when the wall Berln fell. On that visit Mark and I had decided to recreate one of Roger Ebert’s “Perfect London Walks” by taking the Underground up to Hampstead, walking across the Heath to Highgate Cemetery where we did indeed visit the grave of Marx. I recall no dancing but much smiling. With Mark there was always much smiling. Afterward we stopped at the Archway Tavern for pints and darts because Mark wanted to occupy the same space that The Kinks had occupied many years before. We walked our sated selves to the Highgate Tube and back to the London of tour busses and overpriced pigeon feed in Trafalger Square.
    I hadn’t been in contact with Mark for many years and I could say that I wish I’d have been a better correspondent, …but some things last longer. As long as I live I’ll never forget Mark Anderson for sharing an afternoon with Karl Marx and pints of bitter.

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