By Sandra Burton The Nimitz family experienced a devastating tragedy on Saturday August 23rd, 2008 with the sudden and unexpected death of their eldest son. The accident occurred on the ranch late in the evening. There are no right words to use at a time like this, and I don’t know if I am the right person to write this, but I feel we must pause a moment and reflect on a short life that touched so many of our lives. All members of the Forage Association were touched by Mark, even if they were unaware of it. For many years, Ernie and Joanne compiled, published and distributed the Forage First newsletter, and their boys, Mark and Michael helped with photocopying, stuffing envelopes, and assorted other forage communication jobs. Many of us enjoyed trail rides on horseback during Friendly Forage Field Days led by Mark and Michael.
It is hard to make sense of a young life, full of so much promise, cut short. When I think of Mark, I remember his huge smile, the twinkle in his eyes, and his wonderful sense of humour. Over the years our kids enjoyed the rambunctious antics of the Nimitz boys at family dinners and visits. We have enjoyed watching them grow into unique and special young men with a growing commitment to the land and ranching in the Peace.
We had a laughter filled time with Mark, while traveling during our family sabbatical in Australia in 2006. We so enjoyed Mark that week. I kept expecting him to get restless and want to do and see more, or want to be with young free wheeling adults his own age, but he just seemed to melt into the deck with the incredible views with the rest of us. We so appreciated his versatility: from quietly reading and being supportive (with his wonderful sense of humour of course) while Ted and Hanna did their school work…. To rambunctiously frolicking with them and being a kid again in the surf, instigating games of “touch surf rugby” and “keep away”…. To storytelling with much laughter in the evenings about growing up with the best of both worlds: the opportunities of living in the city with rugby trips to places like NZ and the summers working on the ranch with playing and swimming in the Kiskatinaw River with the horses…. To serious discussions with Rick and I about whether to study agriculture or business, and which was the best to take back to the ranch. Mark was out seeing the world and having all these adventures, but he had already sorted out what was important, had both feet on the ground and knew where he was going.
In memory of Mark, contributions can be made to the Kiskatinaw Ecological Society, which will be pooled and administered initially by the Peace River Forage Association of British Columbia. More importantly, Ernie would welcome other kinds of contributions: ideas and discussions with you about how to best create a living legacy of Mark. The overall objective of the society will be to enhance and preserve the integrity of the Kiskatinaw River watershed. It will include an educational component, and involve youth and community of all ages. In Ernie’s words “Mark loved the land, animals, outdoors, hi tech and helping people. We want to create something along these lines to honor his life.”
Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated by Ernie, Joanne and Michael. They can be reached by mail at Kiskatinaw River Ranch, Box 908, Dawson Creek, B.C., V1G 4H9 or by phone at (250) 843 2300.