KOTILA—Mark David Kotila has passed away.
Mark grew up in Bedford, Ohio, the younger of two children. After he graduated from Bedford High School in 1974, he joined the U.S. Navy. He was proud of his service, especially his ship's role in helping to evacuate U.S. citizens from Saigon.
After his four-year tour of duty, Mark decided he loved Oregon and wanted to live there. All over it — Eugene, Veneta, Bend, Sisters, LaGrande, Gardiner, Florence and finally his favorite location, Swisshome. While moving about, Mark attended the University of Oregon and Lane Community College, eventually graduating from Eastern Oregon State College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in general studies.
Because he moved often, Mark had many jobs. He built doors in Bend, tended bar in Sisters and LaGrande, worked in various capacities at the St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store and the Fred Meyer store in Florence, and finally delivered papers for The Register-Guard along the upper Siuslaw River corridor.
He enjoyed music, both listening to it and occasionally playing guitar. He helped form a rock band on his ship, the U.S.S. Gridley. Since Mark served as the ship's barber, the band rehearsed in the barber shop. A highlight for his band was playing for the crew on the stern of the ship, sailing past the Kamchatka Peninsula, and performing The Beatles' “Back in the U.S.S.R.”
Fishing was Mark's passion. He loved to fish every chance he could get, and his fishing stories could extend for hours. Opening day of fishing season at Crane Prairie Reservoir in the Deschutes National Forest was a regular ritual during his central Oregon years. His love of fishing led him to work for the Siuslaw Watershed Council. Mark and others helped to remove the invasive vegetation that was choking stretches of the Siuslaw River's banks in an effort to allow native species to flourish once again.
Besides a lifelong love of music and fishing, Mark enjoyed golf (when he could afford it), and creative writing. He authored a rather eccentric column for The Swisshome Heartbeat for several years, as "Mark the Paper Guy." Some found it odd, but many liked it.
Mark was preceded in death by his father and mother, Richard A. Kotila and Ruth M. Kotila. He is survived by his brother, Richard B. Kotila, of Roaming Shores, Ohio, and his son, Joel D. Kotila, of Monterey, Calif.
Donations can be made in Mark's name to the St. Vincent De Paul Florence Thrift Store, 2315 Highway 101, Florence, OR 97439 or the Siuslaw Watershed Council, PO Box 422, Mapleton, OR 97453.
A memorial celebration of his life will be held this Friday, Aug 5., at 11 a.m. at Burns’s Riverside Chapel Florence Funeral Home.