For 7 years I was the Director of Technical Ministries for the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL. During those years God placed about 25 folks into my ministry there… yes, I’m talking about those wacky, wonderful, and sometimes weird people who were the tech volunteers. Each of them brought passion, dedication, and their own unique set of skills to the task of enhancing our worship services, week in and week out. I miss them terribly!
But even since moving to the Nashville area almost 3 years ago, I still try to keep in regular contact with as many of them as possible. I was saddened to learn this past weekend about the passing of Mark Groenke, probably the one person in our crew that personified all the qualities I described above. Every person on our crew was vital, and I could safely describe each of them as a ‘right hand man (or woman)”, but Mark would arguably be at the top of that list.
One of the things that made Mark wonderful was his selflessness. So it’s no surprise to learn that he had been fighting a battle with MS… I don’t think any of us knew that about him, and we were all very close. Just like Mark to keep such a thing to himself! In fact, we all lost touch with him after he moved to Florida a few years ago.
Mark was truly unique. As my main backstage manager, Mark would handle any situation with speed and professionalism… along with a dry wit that would have you rolling on the floor. At the time, he sported shoulder length grey hair and a huge mustache, baring more than a passing resemblance to WKRP’s “Dr. Johnny Fever”, hence that nickname (one of many, trust me…lol).
I could go on and on about my buddy, but will spare you. Those of you who knew Mark share my grief at his passing, but can rejoice in the fact that we WILL see our buddy again in heaven. If I know Mark, he’s rearranging that backstage area right now… and probably has a few angels laughing uncontrollably… lol.
John “Mark” Groenke
GROENKE, JOHN “MARK”, 57, joined our Heavenly Father Tuesday, June 10th, 2008. After an 18-week battle (he WON) in the SICU at a local hospital. Preceded in death by his mother, Lois Ann Nelson and his father, John H. Groenke. He lives on through his children and grandchildren. Daughters, Lindsey (Paul) Correia of Hoover, AL, Shelly (Sean) Payne of Vestavia Hills, AL and Tania (Jon) Tate of Gulf Breeze, FL. Grandchildren, Ashton, Tate, Olivia, Miller, Connor, Austin and Ali. Sister Marcia (Ken) Lanier, Stepmother, Joy Groenke and many family and friends. Mark’s true passions in life were food; he enjoyed cooking and entertaining, a life long race fan and music lover. He was a father, friend and joker. He will be deeply missed and remembered for touching so many lives. Daddy, may I have this dance? Love, Booka. Visitation will be held Saturday, June 14, 2008 from 2:00 to 3:30 PM at Ridout’s Southern Heritage Funeral Home. Graveside services will be held Saturday at 3:30 PM at Southern Heritage Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family would like to request that those interested contribute donations to the National MS society.
Mark… I miss you, my friend. Get things ready for the band up there, willya??