Mark Menning ’68

Mark Menning ’68 died peacefully on November 10, 2020 at the University of Michigan hospital. He was 73.

Mark was born in California on November 11, 1946 to his late parents Ralph and Irene Menning, who preceded him in death.  Along with his brothers the late Charles ’64, Bruce ’66 (Vicky Fris ’68) and Roger (Elizabeth), he lived the itinerant life of a preacher’s kid.  The family crisscrossed the country as his father answered calls to Reformed churches in California, Colorado, New Jersey and Michigan. The frequent moves bonded the brothers together.  They saw their relationship evolve over the years from shared hijinks as youngsters to forging new connections as adults around shared loves of music, travel, gardening, woodworking and camping.

Mark attended Hope College where he became a lifelong member of the Gassmen, a rock band which gloriously reunited to play Hope College Homecoming 2008. After Hope College, Mark attended the University of Michigan Medical School before moving to Grand Rapids for surgical training and a fellowship in colorectal surgery. While there, Mark met a lovely young nurse named Patricia Honderd, who saw his potential even though he proposed going roller skating as a first date. Forty-seven years of marriage ensued: raising two sons, completing many adventures and sharing countless quiet mornings together reading the paper and doing Sudoku.

Mark was the devoted father of two boys, Jesse ’01 (Whitney) and Ian. Coming home from countless hours of surgery, he found time and energy to play driveway hockey, attend myriad games, draw intricate comic books starring inanimate-object superheroes (“Milk Bottle Man”) and more. Later, Mark became grandfather or “Opa” to William and Caroline. He brought both a deep love and childlike humor to his role as Opa, ensuring his grandkids will remember both the extended snuggles and the intriguing possibility of an “Oatmeal Volcano” should the microwave run too long. In addition to his sons and grandchildren, Mark leaves numerous nieces and nephews, who are requested to gently and lovingly needle themselves in Uncle Mark’s absence.

As a colorectal surgeon, Mark worked for decades at St. Lawrence and Sparrow hospitals in Lansing. There he mended many patients with both his surgical skills and compassionate bedside manner.  Patients frequently interrupted family lunches around town to thank Mark for his empathetic care. That passion for being a doctor was matched only by his passion for having the most modest car in the doctors’ parking lot. Towards that goal, Mark folded himself into a succession of cars too small for his six-foot two-inch frame, including a Geo Metro and a Toyota Echo.

Outside of work and family, Mark was a long-time member of River Terrace Church in East Lansing. Putting aside a lifelong animosity toward committees, he joined the missions committee and went on two meaningful trips to Nigeria.  When retirement allowed him more free time, he served as an elder. But his greatest love in the church was the choir. The combination of good friends, glorious melodies, precise musical timing and less-precise rhythmic swaying formed a central part of his life.

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