(March 19th,1957- November 27th, 2023)
It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I write this tribute for my dear friend and colleague, Mark Koepke. Mark worked for the International Programs Department at UWSP (University of Wisconsin at Stephens Point) for over thirty years and led the study abroad groups to London where they would stay at International Students House.
I first met Mark in 1992 when I took up the position of Dean of Students at ISH. He accompanied a group of about thirty students from the UWSP program for their semester abroad. Tall, athletic, handsome and charming, Mark and I became great friends and stayed in touch for over thirty years. I was fortunate to have been able to visit Stephens Point on several occasions including a celebration on the 25th anniversary of the UWSP International Programs. On that occasion, Mark invited us to his home for a great dinner and drinks with his wife and other members of the UWSP community.
Mark and I would meet up almost annually at the NAFSA conferences which were held in a US city each year. We would go out for dinner and have a catch up on each other’s lives. Mark was an avid cyclist and beginning in 1985 led trips abroad for cyclists, hikers and other adventure seekers. He was a real Internationalist and enjoyed exploring new places or reminiscing about his visits to his favourite destinations.
Mark’s life changed greatly when he suffered a stroke in 2015. In the last eight years, he overcame so much in learning to manage his health and gaining independence. Mark was loving, passionate, funny, caring and kind. He was a great friend and I will miss him terribly. I am so happy that we had the opportunity to meet up when he visited London in June. We had a great chat and a fun lunch. There is a photo of us on that occasion attached to this tribute.
I am sure I speak for the entire International Students House community which sends warm thoughts and prayers to Mark’s family, especially his children Tristan, Brigitte and grandchildren Florence, Peter and Samson.
Rest in peace, my dear friend.