Tribute to Milton Marks
Milton “Mickey” Marks, age 85, passed away peacefully at home, with his family around him. It was August 3, 2015, and the cause of death was complications following prostate cancer.
Mickey was born in Stamford, Connecticut, but grew up in New York City. He was the son of Milton Marks and Louise Bickart-Marks. He had one brother, Monroe, who died in 1960. Mickey graduated from The Bronx High School of Science in 1948, and went on to attend Syracuse University. He graduated from Syracuse in 1952, earning a bachelor’s degree and later a Master’s degree in geology in 1954. During the Korean War era, he served in the US Army Signal Corps at Ladd Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska, on a then-secret project detecting Russian nuclear tests.
Mickey married Lynn Lowenson on Feb. 15, 1959, in Portland, and they settled in Westport, Connecticut, where they resided for 26 years. Mickey assumed a series of positions with the family-run Esbeco Distilling in Stamford, eventually rising to the position of president. Mickey and Lynn moved to Lake Oswego in 1985.
Although not a geologist by trade, Mickey was an active member of the geology community and amassed a large collection of mineral samples. He was a longtime member in the Northwest Micro Mineral Study Group and a lifetime member of the Geological Society of America. Among Mickey’s life works was his dedication to philanthropy. Together with his wife, Lynn, he established the M & L Marks Family Fund through the Oregon Community Foundation.
Mickey is survived by his wife, Lynn of Lake Oswego; and sons, Michael Marks of Silverton and Leland Marks of Gresham. His daughter, Lianne Marks Klein predeceased him in 1994, at the age of 33 from Hodgkin’s disease.
Mickey learned to swim as a toddler in Long Island Sound, Stamford, CT, where he was born, and has enjoyed being in, on and around water, ever since. He began competitive swimming at the age of 7 at a summer camp in Maine. He was an avid competitive swimmer, having been active in Masters Swimming for over 40 years. In 2011 he was awarded the OMS “Outstanding Swimmer” in the category of Male 50 and Over.
Mickey was highlighted in the Aqua Master in “Swimmer Spotlight” of the November/December 2010 issue. Quoting Mickey’s own words from that 2010 article: “In 1970, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and was advised by my MD to take up a sport, and lose weight. That was the incentive to begin competing again, as Masters Swimming was just getting under way around the same time. My first Masters meet was the first Masters meet held east of the Mississippi River, at the YMCA in Wilton, CT, on April Fools’ Day, 1972. In the 50 breast, I swam the first lap under water, as we had in high school and college, and was almost DQed. The judges decided that there were no rules in effect for Masters to disallow under-water swimming, so they let my result stand.
“I joined the Westport, CT, YMCA swim team, and competed with them until 1985, then I retired, and we moved from Connecticut to Lake Oswego in 1985. At that time, I joined the Mt. Hood Masters Swim Team, although I did not work out with the team at MHCC. Since 1985, I have worked out by myself at the Barbur Blvd. Y, which was sold last year (2009), and is now (called) All Star Fitness. I usually swim 2400 meters, five days a week, and try to vary my workouts to include all strokes. Unless there is a meet coming up, my swims are mostly “maintenance” swims, with no interval training. About six weeks before a meet, I increase the intensity of my workouts, and start intervals, mostly 100s, 50s, and 25s. In the meantime, I have done some dryland training with barbells. My favorite competitive swimming memory is a recent one. I was fortunate to be able to join some great Oregon swimmers, Gil Young, Wink Lamb and Dave Radcliff on a 200 meter freestyle relay to set a Masters National record. To me, that was a big WOW!
“Aside from swimming, my main passions are gardening, mineral collecting, hiking, and travel. My wife and I are fortunate to have been able to travel to all 7 continents and to many countries across the globe. However, my favorite trip of all time was going down the Colorado River in dories for 14 days through the Grand Canyon in 1986. We loved it so much we did it again the following year. In the spirit of making lemonade from lemons, I tell people that it may have been a good thing that I developed diabetes. If I hadn’t, I would probably now be a sedate, big, fat old couch potato. Taking up swimming after a 20 year layoff was a Godsend. Any achievements, which I have made in Masters Swimming, I attribute to that.”
Mickey has five USMS All-American listings; 27 Oregon records; 19 NW Zone records; 170 USMS Top Ten times.