In Memoriam: Mark Harris, January 4, 1960 – March 17, 2015

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June 12, 2015
In Memoriam
Pam Vickers

“How very softly you tiptoed into our world, almost silently, only a moment you stayed.  But what an imprint your footsteps have left upon our hearts.” – Dorothy Ferguson

 

Mark Harris
January 4, 1960 – March 17, 2015

HITEC will be a little less sweet this year; we lost one of our dearest friends. Mark Harris passed on March 17 from cancer. For the past 20 years, Mark has been a stalwart member of the hospitality technology world. His smiling face was a major presence in the HIS/SoftBrands/Infor booth and he was always available for a great big teddy bear-like hug. 

And the sense of humor that was behind that smile was precious. Did you get to meet Mark? He was a big guy – like linebacker big. Do you know the size of a bathroom in a NYC hotel room (hint, most closets are larger)? His description of his trials and tribulations in one makes me giggle to this day. 

The day Mark passed, his Facebook page was all atwitter (pun intended) with messages from people he had mentored over the years. Mark was an amazingly generous and gifted trainer, making the complex accessible to everyone and bringing forward the shy person in the back of the room into the conversation. He was never too busy to take a call and brainstorm through a complex problem or even just to catch up. Clients and co-workers became lifelong friends, the kind who keep in touch because they genuinely care, not because they think they might need something someday.
 
To pay the bills, Mark was the guy that managed the HUGE, challenging projects, the kind that had the potential either to go incredibly well or end badly. But one of Mark’s biggest strengths was his ability to put everyone at ease. He knew his stuff and was amazing at anticipating and smoothing out the bumps in the road. Even when he didn’t know everything, he was quick to acknowledge his fallibility and was appreciative of help – to the point of sending gifts to those who had lent assistance.
 
For all that, Mark’s vocation was in hospitality, but his avocation and real love was singing. He came to it later than some, when he was in his early 40s, but was truly gifted and put his heart and soul into it from that point, taking singing lessons and entertaining people wherever he was. And from the messages his singing family posted, he brought the same generosity of spirit to that part of his life, encouraging singers younger or less experienced than he. Mark traveled a lot, Berlin, London, New York and points beyond, he found karaoke bars where he could practice his real love – entertaining with his amazing voice. In the frequent stops, he had his favorites – the place where the real “Real Housewives of Orange County” hung out when he was in Southern California and, of course, his musical home in Arizona, Ernie’s.  

If you missed hearing Mark’s gift, three of his favorites are available for download on his website – www.manofsoul.com – and there are videos on his Facebook page. I’ve added them to my playlist and will be listening to them and picturing my friend as part of the heavenly choir, until we meet again. 

– Written by Pam Vickers

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