My Brother-In-Law

BY: | DATE: 7 MAY 2012 | CATEGORY:

Mark and Jonathan: August 12, 2007

My brother-in-law passed away suddenly and without warning last Tuesday, May 1st.

He was a devoted husband to his wife and soul mate, Debbie, and her two beautiful children, Emily and Justin.

Debbie and Mark: August 12, 2007


I do not believe I can write a fitting tribute to Mark,  except to say that every time I was with him, we had a great time.  He loved riding roller coasters more than any grown man I had ever met.  He was a big kid at heart and inspired the kid in you when you were with him.  He was full of joy, and full of life and regardless of circumstances, his zest for life and his love for those he cared about always came through.  I wish geography had not kept us from knowing each other better.

My husband wrote a beautiful tribute to his brother, and that is what I will post here in his honor:

I’m writing this note at the end of a chaotic week of unfathomable loss after the passing of my brother, Mark.  Suddenly and without any warning.  He was 48.

Some of you knew him, some of you didn’t; I wanted to reach out to all of you days ago.  But the news was too terrible.  The wired world of electronic communication can ironically enable private pain, making it easier to hide and avoid the kinds of conversations rare in the age of mobile phones, email and texting.  But it wouldn’t have mattered.  The words didn’t come anyway.

I simply cannot believe I am writing these thoughts about someone who was far more than a central part of my life.  There’s not a single vivid memory of any of my formative and even later years in which he does not play a principal role.  We shared every experience, every encounter and every occurrence of only siblings from a not-so-large immediate family and not a big extended one.

He doesn’t have to be enlarged now, greater than he was in life, but I wish that he be remembered as a sincere and decent person of true talents and the most genuine nature.  He was utterly without guile.  He possessed none of the dark cunning of manipulative people.

He was warm and welcoming.  He was caring to the point of emotion.  More than the “shirt-off-his-back” kind of guy, he would give you the enthusiasm of his convictions.  If he liked you, you had a loyal and devoted friend who might even brag to people who didn’t know you about how terrific you were.  If he loved you, he was all that and more: Part bodyguard, part advocate, part follower, part fan.

Mark was no individualist — he was an idealist.  He preferred the company of others of shared purpose and belief.  He could be inspired, and, in turn, he could inspire others.

He had breathtaking gifts.  Without any real formal art lessons, he could sketch with charcoal, paint with oils, etch glass by hand.  In mere hours, he could build stunningly detailed models.  I once saw him pick up a pen and script calligraphy just from an invitation he’d seen before.

These were no family traits.  I can barely hand-write.

For many years, we had lived on opposite sides of the country and saw each other less and less.  And I took to describing him in different ways to friends and acquaintances, but always with one common detail: My brother has a great, big heart.  I thought that summed up civility, kindness … even honor.  That was him.

Mark could be generous to a fault and loyal to a point beyond that, but even these ostensible flaws are derived from admirable virtue.  This is because his heart held his finest qualities.  So he offered his heart first and always and to many.  Ultimately, his heart failed him.

The flood of memories is overwhelming, but one recollection returns again and again.  I don’t know why.  When we were eight and 12 years old, we were standing in line at a grocery store where we had walked to pick up items for the weekend (kids did that then).  A man looked at us and said, “You two don’t really look alike.  But you look like brothers.”

We were different in many respects, but alike in big ways.  He should be remembered for what was best about him.  And I will remember to be more like his good and gallant ways.

Jonathan Wilcox
May 6, 2012
Woodland Hills, CA



  1. Hannah says:

    I am so sorry for y’all’s loss. This tribute made me cry and made me wish I had gotten to meet this lovely person. My thoughts and prayers are with y’all and especially his lovely wife and kids. To lose a soulmate, be they friend or lover, is a heart-break that leaves a serious mark.

    Hold each other. Love each other…and be grateful to have known such a lovely man.

    Love, Hannah

  2. Terrilox Terrilox says:

    Sweet, Hannah. Thank you. Love, Terry

  3. Stacy Geiser says:

    What a beautiful tribute. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  4. Jordan Loober says:

    I didn’t know Mark, but if he was anything like his brother than he was a great man. I am truly sorry for his family’s loss.

  5. Heidi Allyce says:

    What a beautiful tribute and reminder to those of us who have family to hold them a little closer and not take them for granted. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss and will pray that God will give you peace & comfort while you are trying to cope with it all.

  6. malka miller says:

    Dear Wilcox Family,

    I am sorry to read about the passing of Mark Philip Wilcox. He was a remarkable person. He wrote the eulogy for his maternal grandfather’s funeral; not a dry eye was to be found in that room. God bless his family.

  7. Louis Robinson says:

    I found out about Mark’s passing through a Buckley news letter. Late posting this. It breaks my heart. He was always the nicest guy, with a smile on his face! We lost touch after graduation… my loss. He will be missed. My God look after and bless his family. -Louis

  8. Jenn Reeves Potter says:

    I’m so, so sorry…my thoughts and prayers are with all of you…so sad :-( xoxo

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