Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Eulogy to Mark Estill

August 6/1954 to December 16/2008. Today at shortly before 3 o'clock, my dear brother Mark died.

What can I say about losing my dear friend, confidant and protector?

I have memories.

As a child, I remember the games - hockey on the neighbourhood rink, baseball in the school yard, football, snowball fights, tobogganing etc.

Mark was especially close to my youngest brother Lyle. He was old enough to "take care" of Lyle and that lasted right to the end. Glen and I are only a year apart so we hung out together more.

Mark worked with me from the time we were young. Shoveling snow, painting houses then selling computers for many years.

After Mark moved to North Carolina about 15 years ago (he went there to help Lyle with the EMJ America branch), Mark set up a weekly call every Friday with me. He knew me well enough that it needed to be scheduled. We talked for 5 or 15 or 25 minutes about whatever was on our minds. We shared dreams, we confided. Mark was my sounding board and advisor.

He was the glue that held the brothers together. He was always there for family. Fully supportive of all our projects. He invented the "Brothers' Weekend" when Glen, Mark, Lyle and I would go somewhere to spend the weekend together hiking, playing bridge, laughing (Mark had a killer sense of humour). I think we must have gone on 25 or 30 brothers' weekends including canoe tripping, sailing off the coast of North Carolina, renting various cottages and chalets, flying to resorts, hiking the Grand Canyon. As a game on the weekends we would try to name all the weekends we had been on.

Mark was generous. Always spending money on other people.

Our last weekend together was in August at Glen's on the Bruce Peninsula. Mark was sick then but we did not know how serious it was (he thought it was a lingering cold). We knew he was sick because he went to bed at 10 before the bridge started and Mark was usually the most avid bridge player of the 4 of us.

After Mark was diagnosed (which was only a month ago), he said to me, all he wants is his life back. He would not change a thing in the way he lived. He wanted to go to work. We liked his house, his world, his life, his Beth. There is wisdom in that - live the life you want.

On Sunday I had the privilege of sitting alone with him for an hour in ICU. He was lucid and talked (although with some difficulty). Even then he asked me how sales were going, how the marathon went etc. - still focusing not on himself right to the end.

Today he went home. There were no machines but the oxygen tube. Soft music was put on. He knew he was home.

Losing a brother is the toughest thing that has ever happened to me. It was not supposed to happen this soon.

Tonight, hold the ones you love close.

More on Mark on the Mark Estill Blog.


At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please accept my most heartfelt sympathies for your loss.
My thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.
May all your great memories give you strength.

At 11:25 PM, Blogger Kevin Dee said...

Jim ... I read your blog from time to time, and also write my own CEO blog. I lost my younger brother 3 years ago and it is a tough time. I can understand how you feel and know that your strength and family will help you to cope with this loss. Please accept my thoughts, and continue to celebrate your brother who really "lived his life". In memory of my brother I started a family fund in support of an addiction centre and we add to it each year. It is my way to celebrate the life my brother lived. You will find your own way. Be good to yourself!

At 11:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this .. I can only imagine how hard this must be for you and your family. It helps those of us not near to Mark, to come to terms with grasping the reality of it all.

At 12:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry to hear about your loss!

At 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Jim. How sudden and difficult for all of you who loved Mark. You are in my thoughts and both you and your family will be in my prayers.

At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Sorry to hear about your brother Mark passing. Your Eulogy to him was very touching. I'll keep him and your family in my prayers.

At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm afraid. Now I feel really sad, I'm starting to appreciate you blog, so I'm starting to appreciate you. You've made me think about losing my brothers :(
I hope that if I carry a litle bit of this load, thi will help you relieve your pain.

Best regards:

Fernando Gastón

At 8:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sorry for your loss, you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

At 8:46 AM, Blogger Tracy da Silva Langford said...

Hi Jim, Lisa my daughter is always sending me highlights from your blog and am deeply sorry to hear of your loss. Having loss myself, my hearts goes out to you and your family. I am living life with those that are important to me.

At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Our family's thoughts and prayers go out to all of your family. Although I didn't know Mark as well as you and Glen, I did realize how much he loved life and you could tell he valued family.

It's a tough time for a family to go through, but know that your extended SYNNEX family that has been with you for many years as well has you in their thoughts as well.

Cherish all those memories that you have, and Mark will live on inside you forever. Nothing can take those good times you had!

At 9:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim -

Kerry and I are deeply saddened to hear that Mark passed so quickly. He was a very dear friend to us and we will miss him greatly, but he leaves us with many wonderful memories that we will always cherish (and get a good laugh over, eventually). Our thoughts and prayers go out to "The Neighbors" and the entire Estill family.

At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim and Family
I do relate to the pain you are going through at this time and I can honestly say it does get better with time as I lost my mother 8 years ago this coming January. The closeness of your family is important, and every memory will get you through this tough time. You said it right, live the life you dream of, no hold backs. This life really is too short, so stop at nothing to love. My heart is with you and your family through this all and if I could I would take away some of the pain. Although I have not had the opportunity to meet any of your brothers I know in my heart that Mark will be right beside you when ever you need him. My Love Melissa

At 10:10 AM, Blogger Alan Marston said...

Jim my sincere condolences to you and your family. I have been following every word on Mark written on these couple of blogs you have referred us to. What I have learned here is that I don’t spend much time with my 4 brothers and I don’t want to regret that later. The fact that you have 30 years of memories, especially those “Brothers” vacations I think leaves you with even more special memories.
My prayers are with you Jim!

At 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


My sincerest condolences on your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family today.

At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I too add my condolences in the hope that in some small way they can meet you in a place of comfort, I see the wonderful support of those leaving comments before me and realize that in reaching out to one another we share the burden of our sorrows...making that burden just a little bit lighter to bear than it would be all on our own.

Your eulogy is a beautiful testimony of the heart in honor of your brother, Mark. Thank you for writing about him, and sharing him with all of us...in doing so you extend his legacy and touch all of us in the process.

At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I am not a CEO or anywhere close to it I have been reading your blog religiously for about a year now. I always seem to take something away when finished reading. This post has taught me that you had an enormous amount of respect and love for your older brother Mark. That respect and love will be with you always.

My thoughts go out to yourself and to your family.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger nodummie said...

My heart and thoughts are with you all.
I have known Mark since 1995.
We spent some "quality time" together.
Mark was a real gentleman at all times.
I too will miss him.
Meyer Toole

At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, thank you for sharing this with us. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to write. In my tradition, when someone passes away, we say "Shukar Al-humdulilah". Literally it means "give thanks to God". He is in good hands now :) Take care.

At 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only knew your brother through your posts. And yet I feel that he's touched my life. It's hard to lose the people we love and it always happens too soon, so I will pray for you and your family for strength in this time and, when the grieving is done, for a collection of marvelous Mark-memories to bring joy to your days.

At 9:15 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I dropped by your blog tonight and my eyes began to tear, for only two days ago you shared a special moment-your brother marrying in hospital. Your words about him are so beautiful. The times you shared will always be a warm reminder of the love between all of you, those memories will carry you.

Losing a sibling must be excruciating-my heart and prayers to you and your family.

When you wrote "he said to me, all he wants is his life back."it struck my heart. My father died from lung cancer. He was young, successful and at the peak of his career. I was only 18 and at night would hear this pillar of strength cry to my mother saying "Mary, I don't want to leave you and the girls, I just want my life back"..so yes, the "I want my life back" jarred me. Life is so precious. I reflect often on my fathers words, each time being reminded how to live life, with passion and with love, living each day as though it's the last and planning the future as though I'll live forever...sigh...so yes, tonight and every night hold the ones you love close.

I will hold you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.


At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really sorry to hear this Jim. Please accept my sincere condolences.

Thanks for sharing and reminding us how important our family is and how thankful we should be when they're healthy.

At 10:43 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

My heartfelt sympathies for your loss. I two close brothers as well. The eulogy to your brother served as a reminder that everyday is precious.
Greg Johnston

At 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, my heartfelt sympathies. I hope you will find some consolation in knowing that death ends a life, not a relationship. May your ongoing relationship with your brother sustain you.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

My heartfelt sympathies for your loss. I have close brothers as well. Your eulogy served as a reminder to cherish those moments with your family.
My prayer is that you and your family find peace in this time.

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Diane Dumont-Peck said...

To all the Estill family. Please accept my condolences. Please find comfort in knowing that you are all in our thoughts and in our prayers. Families share amazing memories please keep them close to your heart and Mark will always remain with you every step of everyday.

At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


We are saddened by your families loss. Our condelences go out to you and your entire family. Although we did not know Mark he sounds like a very generous and Supportive person.

We all need to work to find a cure to this demon that takes so many good people much too young.


At 12:49 PM, Blogger Ike said...

Jim, after 30 years I connected with Lyle last week over his latest book, when I learned about Mark's illness. It's funny how people come in and out of your life. I never met Mark, but know that he was gifted, sharing the same surname with you, Glenn and Lyle. This year will be the 27th anniversary of my brother's death. We share your grief. Thoughts and prayers, Ike (Scott).

At 9:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My father is 84 years old. He is of good health, but cognizant of the time he has left. He told me he does not want to be mourned, he has lived a good life and a happy one. Your brother, through your reflection as I did not know him, sounds similar.

I am so sorry for your loss, but appreciate your celebrating his life.

Take care

At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met Mark and Lyle as a customer of EMJ America. Later worked for Lyle over at Blast. Just heard about your family's terrible loss. Mark did look after Lyle and he took great pleasure in Lyle's successes. I'm glad to see you had the opportunity to see him before the end - I know how it is to miss that opportunity. Our family's thoughts are with you, Will.

At 11:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,

Losing someone you love is one of the toughest things you will ever go through. Just take it one minute at a time and realize that his passing will trigger a transition in your life as well. This transition is normal as you wrestle with your thoughts and emotions.

I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


It has been many years since I worked for you at EMJ. I remember Mark always with a smile on his face and quick comment to make me laugh. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.

Cynthia Shutsa

At 6:42 AM, Blogger Ted Popma said...

My condolences for the loss of your brother. A long time ago, back in Woodstock, Mark and I were very good friends. We worked together at Poole's grocery store and we hung out together when we weren't working. Mark and I went to different high schools, which was kind of a big deal in Woodstock, but it wasn't a big deal to us. In fact, it was rather amusing, especially to him. Anyway, to us, Mark was known as 'The Groove'. He was always a step ahead of any of us with music, fashion, you name it.

The football games were legendary, over at Northdale public school. Large groups of friends/family from school, work, wherever...that would gather for the weekly game. Once Mark even talked me into riding my bicycle with him to Long Point from Woodstock on the May 24 long weekend when we were in Grade 11 or 12. The details are sketchy but I remember I had a 3-speed and Mark had a 10-speed. I remember we finally arrived at Long Point and his dad came and picked us up, threw the bikes in the trunk of the car and off we went back to Woodstock sore and stiff but better for having had the experience together. I lost track of Mark for a few years as often happens after high school. But then I saw him again in the late '70s. I was hanging out at a record store in downtown Woodstock and Mark came in and we reconnected. He thought I looked like Tom Petty now and I remember I got him interested in Graham Parker. Well, that was the last I heard from him.

One of my brothers mentioned to me the other day that someone I probably knew had recently passed but he no longer lived in Woodstock. My dad mentioned that we had worked together at Poole's. Well, the first name that came to my mind was Mark's and they confirmed it. I'm sorry for your loss. He was a good guy and we enjoyed each other's company for the few years we were together.

At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tribute to your brother.

At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


What a beautiful tribute to your brother. My heart goes out to you.

At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark was always available for fun evenings and late nightcaps. Both Canadian expatriate, working in the embedded computer business, I first met Mark in the mid '90 in Dallas. From then on, every time we attended tradeshows, we both knew that we would meet later at the bar to catch up, goof around and just enjoy life. It is with great sadness that I am learning Mark's early departure and my thoughts go to his family and particularly his brothers that he always kept close to his heart.
See you later Buddy!

At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Bob said...

Jim: I'm terribly sorry for your loss. Mark was one of the nicest and funniest people I've ever met. I recently learned of Mark's death through the UNB Alumni news. Mark and I were friends when he worked in Fredericton NB as the legislative reporter for the Daily Gleaner. We had a lot of laughs and good times. I can still remember how sad I was when Mark told me he was moving back to Ontario to work in the family business in the mid-80's. We lost touch over the years and from what I've been able to discern here, Mark was a big part of EMJ's success. Thank you for allowing me to express my condolences to you and your family.

At 12:48 AM, Anonymous Ed Brown said...

Jim - it was with great sadness that I just read in the UNB Alumni News of Mark's passing. He was a great friend in Fredericton, and as you mention a great lover of the game of Bridge - and of the Social Club! Time has shot by, it has been years since I spoke with Mark or the rest of the Estill's, but I shall miss him dearly...

Ed Brown - Compugen Edmonton


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