It’s taken me a while to write something about the life and passing of our beloved friend and coworker Mark Beardsley. But, because today would have been his 71st birthday, I felt it time to share a few memories and observations on perhaps the kindest man to have ever lived.

On the personal side, I got to know Mark most over morning conversations. He and I tended to be the first in the office, so the two of us got to spend a lot of time talking about our interests our lives. The caring soul that he was, Mark always took a genuine interest in what I and others were up to, but his life was plenty colorful and commendable. As a kid, he spent his summers at a Texas Hill Country camp with friends and family. He loved dogs and cross-country running and he was proud of his education at Sherman High School and Austin College. Mark explored the big city during a decade of of work in Dallas, but his love for reading and writing eventually led him to become an English teacher in his hometown.

There’s a saying that says, “Age is just a circumstance, but youth is a quality.” And Mark Beardsley had it.

Though he worked parttime at the paper, he always seemed to be one the first in and one of the last to leave. On Fridays, he’d substitute at one of the local schools and often times on Saturday he’d swing by the office, just to say hello. His weeknights and and weekends were filled with regular workouts at the gym, church activities, yard work, and volunteering, He even appeared on local theater stages and in television ads, but he was always his humble self. Mark had an unmistakable warmth and energy about him, and at 70 years old, he burned brighter than just about anybody I knew.

Never could I have imagined loving a coworker as much as Mark, but to know him was to love him. It’s doubtful there will ever be a man more generous and genuine than Mark Beardsley, but I and many others are better because of all he shared. Happy birthday, Mark. You will be missed.