A Legacy of Volunteering in Support of Emergency Management

Mark Sheppard was every emergency manager’s dream amateur radio leader.

Few of you will have known or worked with Mark Sheppard. Unfortunately, a friend forwarded this memorial and remembrance for him below. I’d like to share something from my viewpoint.

Even when Mark was a city of Seattle employee and a manager at the city, he led the efforts to organize the amateur radio support team for the city of Seattle’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). In all my years of working in our profession, I’ve never known a better organized team of amateur radio operators.

The team functioned not only at the EOC, but Mark had also organized neighborhood teams that did not exist only on paper, but were really functional teams. He also made sure the organization was keeping up with technology as it continued to evolve.

Part of Mark’s magic was that he was not very excitable — he remained calm in the midst of chaos. We can all wish we had what Mark brought to Seattle’s disaster readiness. I’m sure his legacy and efforts will live on beyond his tenure here on earth.

Mark was blessed with knowing when he would be passing. That allows for goodbyes and a life well lived. He will be missed, but also remembered.

Seattle ACS Community,

It is with great sadness, along with deep gratitude for his contributions, that I report the passing of Mark Sheppard, N7LYE, yesterday evening. As most of you know, Mark had been suffering from cardiac issues for several months now. We were fortunate enough to get a bit more time with him when he made some progress in the mid-spring, but things took a turn downward again a few weeks ago. His family was able to be at his side at the time of his passing, and he even enjoyed his beloved longtime evening ritual of a whiskey and a cigar on his last day.

We wouldn't all be together in this community if it weren't for Mark, of course, and for that we will be forever grateful, but Mark did so much more than start a ham radio communications group. By combining his talents, relationships, skills, and grit, Mark founded and then led a world-class emergency preparedness resource, staffed with experts who took cues from Mark's own operational excellence, attention to detail, and passion for the mission. I think I speak for all of us when I say that what we do together in this community, serving our neighbors and our City, will always be done with inspiration from, and a nod to, Mark Sheppard.

Mark founded Seattle ACS in 1993, drawing upon learnings from various other emergency communications organizations and structures, as well as his own extensive experience supporting wildfire lookout and suppression efforts. His vision for the ACS program from the start was to go beyond some of the constraints faced by amateur radio-rooted organizations such as ARES and RACES, which is why Seattle ACS works not only with amateur spectrum but also with public safety circuits, and why we go beyond the mic to assist with functions such as audio/visual, meal prep, and other logistical help at the EOC. Mark's vision for how a dedicated volunteer group, with expert technical and non-technical skills could support the Office of Emergency Management had everything to do with the warm welcome you have received if you have ever been at the EOC during an activation. While our group may be composed of volunteers, we have always been treated by the OEM as professionals and peers, and a great deal of the credit for that goes to the way Mark shaped ACS.

Mark is survived by his wife Sherry, sons Alex and Nikolai, and grandson Kristopher. Please keep them in your thoughts. While they have requested privacy, if you feel moved to share a note or card, those may be sent to:

Sherry Taylor & the Sheppard Family
2584 11th Ave W.
Seattle, WA 98119
Eric Holdeman is a nationally known emergency manager. He has worked in emergency management at the federal, state and local government levels. Today he serves as the Director, Center for Regional Disaster Resilience (CRDR), which is part of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER). The focus for his work there is engaging the public and private sectors to work collaboratively on issues of common interest, regionally and cross jurisdictionally.
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