Mark Fowler, Sr., a longtime sales rep who covered Florida for Murray Feiss, died Dec. 2 after a brief serious illness. He was 60 years old.
Mark joined Murray Feiss in 1979, and was a member of the first Murray Feiss Sales Rep Advisory Committee in 1989. He also went on to win Murray Feiss’ Sales Representative of the Year Award in 2004.
Over his long career in the industry, Mark developed numerous lifelong friends, many of whom say they will remember Mark’s determination.
“Everything he did, he did 10,000 percent,” says Murry Hill, owner of Hill Lighting in Pompano Beach, FL.
“Mark was an extremely positive guy with a can do attitude and do whatever it takes approach to getting things done,” says Greg Vandia, President of Murray Feiss. “His approach to business and life was determined and tenacious – once he decided to do something or accomplish something in sales and life, nothing could prevent him from achieving his goal.”
This tenacity carried over into the way Mark would present himself to customers, according to Jim Fleming, owner of Camelot Consulting Group, who says he always appreciated Mark’s professionalism.
“I remember when I was a young rep and he was an established rep, the south Florida dress code was casual, and most reps wore slacks and a golf shirt,” Fleming says. “But Mark was one of the only reps who always wore a crisp white shirt and tie, and I remember looking at him and saying that’s professionalism. And from then on, I always wore shirts and ties.”
Mark applied this same determination to causes outside of lighting, including his work with Chamber of Hope, to which he devoted much of his time over the past few years. Mark founded the organization, which provides free hyperbaric oxygen therapy to patients who can’t afford it, after seeing how much it helped his grandson, who was born with cerebral palsy. When he was born, the child suffered seizures every 20 seconds, but after undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy, his seizures stopped and he no longer needed a feeding tube.
Thanks to Mark’s work, Chamber of Hope now owns four hyperbaric chambers, which treat autistic children, drowning victims and stroke victims with 99 percent enriched oxygen. Mark and his family used to provide the treatment out of their home but were able to open up a center this past April.
Mark’s son, Mark Fowler Jr., who recently took over his dad’s lighting rep business, says this is just one example of how his father always put everyone else first.
“Anything he did, he did it full force and with so much passion,” Mark Fowler Jr. says. “He left us a great legacy.”
Murray Feiss, founder of the Murray Feiss lighting line and now chairman of Authenticity Lighting, says this is just the way Mark was.
“Mark truly liked people and always wanted to help anyone and everyone any way he could,” says Feiss. “He had a huge heart.”
Capitol Lighting co-chairman Herman Lebersfeld agrees.
“I will have fond memories of Mark for his sense of humor, his charitable works, and his years of dedication to our industry,” Lebersfeld says.
Capitol Lighting CEO Ken Lebersfeld says Mark’s jokes are what he’ll remember the most.
“Mark Fowler had the greatest storehouse of jokes of anybody I know, most of which can not be published in an industry magazine,” he says.
Ken Lebersfeld says one joke he’ll always remember happened years ago, involving Mark and Capitol Lighting partner Ron Jaffe, who passed away last year. Ron called Mark just as he was boarding a plane for the Dallas Market with a “rush order” for 12 round soaps and one gray bath robe.
“When Mark arrived at the Hilton Anatole, he immediately sent Ron 11 soaps and listed one soap as back-ordered on the order confirmation,” Ken Lebersfeld remembers. “He also sent the robe without the belt and told Ron if he wanted the belt, he would have to call in a missing parts order.”
Ron’s wife, Bonnie, who is also a partner at Capitol Lighting, says she’s glad the two friends are now together again.
“Mark and my beloved husband Ron were always close friends, and now they are together, laughing but watching over us,” she says.
Outside of work, Mark enjoyed scuba diving and water skiing, as well as singing, his friends say.
Mark was preceded in death by his sister, April, and is survived by his wife of 38 years, Betsy; daughters Danalee (Barry) Fowler, Lynnie (James) Brinkley and Shannon Fowler; son Mark (Susan) Fowler Jr.; grandchildren Cruz, Mark III, Michael, Brylyn, Cyriz and Sky; and brothers Robert and Joel Fowler.
Mark’s funeral will be held on Dec. 17 at 2:00 PM at the Masonic Lodge in St. Petersburg, FL. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Chamber of Hope organization, 425 45th Ave. South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705 or at www.chamberofhope.org.