By Bianca LaVesque, Mark's sister

MarkOrozco Ramirez, born on October 9, 1954, in Wichita, KS. He was a courageous and loving soul who spread joy and laughter wherever he went. Known for his thoughtful nature, Mark was a beacon of positivity and strength, always encouraging those around him.

Mark was the 3rd of 5 children born to Emanuel and Wanda (Payne) Ramirez. Mark and his family lived in Derby, Kansas, a small suburb outside of Wichita. In the early years, the family were members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church where Mark was baptized, received his First Holy Communion and attended Catholic School. In the Spring of 1964, his father’s job relocated the family to Arlington, Texas. Mark was a 1973 graduate of Sam Houston High School in Arlington, Texas. Should we be surprised to know that Mark was loved by all, quite popular, and an active member of the thespian club during High School!

During his High School summer breaks, Mark started working for Catfish Cabins and became a good friend of Charles Ezell, the owner. At the same time, Mark attended Shelton School of Hair Design and worked part-time as a hairdresser. He continued traveling throughout the South, opening and managing Catfish Cabin Restaurants with Charles Ezell for 40+ years.

Mark’s oldest son, Eric, was born in 1979. His second, Taylor, was born in 1981. He built a world that revolved around his sons.

In the mid-80s, Mark attended the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and pursued a degree in history and art. Unfortunately, he was only one semester shy of graduation before moving onto Memphis in the mid-90s where he lived for the remainder of his life. Mark loved Memphis and Memphis loved Mark! In the latter years of his life, he was a freelance photographer for 4Memphis Magazine, where he captured life's fleeting moments with a keen eye for beauty and detail. A lover of art history, Mark's work was more than just a profession; it was his passion, his canvas to paint the world as he saw it. His photographs were not merely pictures; they were stories, emotions, and memories encapsulated in time.

Mark’s world was “rocked” in the Fall of 2019 when he found out that he had lung cancer. He fought a most courageous fight for 3½ years. He was the recipient of the “Courage Thru Cancer” Gerry Finney Civic Courage Award.

Mark’s life was lived to the fullest… he traveled, he tango’d across Argentina, fell in love in Mexico and his passion for photography led him to Paris. Mark built a life that revolved around those he loved. His family, friends and his faith was his everything; his sons, his grandchildren, and his great-grandchild were the center of his universe. As an artist, Mark had a unique way of seeing the world, and he cherished the opportunity to see his family grow, change, and thrive through the lens of his camera. His love was boundless for his brother Mani, his sisters Bianca and Teresa. His parents, Emanuel and Wanda Ramirez, his sister, Yolanda Odom and his ex-spouse Gloria Jean, sadly preceded him in death.

Mark's legacy is one of love, laughter, faith, courage, and a life lived to the fullest. His love for his family, his passion for photography, and his ability to find joy in the smallest things made him an inspiration to all.

The evening before Mark died, we had an unusual experience that Mark shared with us… his eternal love for Jesus Christ. Every evening that Mark was with us, we gathered to say the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet. I noticed that during our prayer that evening, Mark became restless despite the intense medication he was under.

I took a crucifix that lay at his head, in hand, stood over Mark and started a quiet spontaneous prayer. At the end of the prayer I said, “In Jesus’ name we pray!” from the depths of Mark’s soul he slowly grabbed the crucifix and uttered, “In Jesus’ name we pray!” I said again, “In Jesus’ name we pray!” clutching the crucifix, Mark said again, “In Jesus’ name we pray!” It happened a third time. SO POWERFUL …SO BEAUTIFUL … SO LOVING. Mark clung to the crucifix for a few more minutes and then let it go to return to a peaceful sleep. Not a dry eye in the room!

As I write this account, tears flow. I will NEVER forget the gift Mark gave to us that evening. I also know Mark is in Heaven… working the crowd and greeting all those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.

For us, his brother and sisters, there is only one way to say our farewell: Mark has left the building …