Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mark Tinsley remembered as hundreds turn out for memorial service

What a wonderful tribute today to a man who was well loved. Hundreds turned out for a service at Memorial Baptist Church in Staunton for local businessman Mark Tinsley, a testament to his standing at Memorial and in the community.

Survived by his mother and three daughters, he had been a broker with Edward Jones the past dozen years but was also well known as owner of the very popular Depot Grille restaurant located at the historic Staunton train station. Generous beyond words, witty, funny, a cook, a dad, a son, a pillar of the church and the community, Mark was remembered by his good friend, Temple Myers, pastor of Memorial, as well as friends and one daughter.

The church was filled to overflowing for the hour-plus service -- the main sanctuary was filled, the chapel was filled, the vestabule had people standing in it, and the walls of the main sanctuary had standing-room-only space. All the church's parking areas were full as well as the grassy field behind McSwain Elementary School, Taylor Street on both sides of Coalter, and the Lee High school parking lot.

A remembrance of his life by a PowerPoint of pictures was accompanied by music as guests waited for the service to begin. The uplifting and powerful "I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me was followed by other contemporary worship songs that brought tears to eyes as family photos of Mark flashed on the screens.

As the service began, there was laughter and there were tears as Temple remembered his treasured friend who spent his earliest years in Richmond but then moved to Staunton in 1965. The overflow crowd sang Old Rugged Cross and Amazing Grace ... even those standing who had no hymnals but sang the words from memory. Kathy Lafon lifted her beautiful voice to the heavens with Come to Jesus ... and the angels must have smiled even as she sang with her heart breaking.

At the age of 53, Mark's life ended far too soon. His hearty laugh and generous nature will be missed by all. When I say "all," I'm not kidding. Mark had friends in all circles of life around Staunton and Augusta County.

He had been especially ill the past six months. Ironically, he gave his mom her Mother's Day card last Tuesday. He passed away on Saturday, the day before Mother's Day.

Mark left three daughters behind. It reminded me of the sadness in my family when my own father passed away of cancer at the age of 51, leaving three daughters and a young widow who was 45 years old at the time. We three girls were devastated ... I was 22 and my sisters were 20 and 13. My dad's passing left a huge void in our lives as it will for Mark's family. Losing a father is a wound that never ever quite heals all the way. Our prayers and heart-felt thoughts go out to Morganne, Maddie, and Calla, and Mark's mom as they face the days ahead.

"Well done, good and faithful servant...." --Matthew 25:21

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