A self-written obituary: Dr Mark John Valencia II

Jan 21, 2024
Mark-John-Valencia-1702397109-c Image supplied

Mark was born and raised in the Boston area. His rough and tumble youth left an indelible mark reflected in his Boston blue collar accent, attitude and life-long membership of the Red Sox nation. He fell in love with Hawaii the moment he arrived in January 1969 to pursue a PH. D. in Oceanography at UH.

He loved exploring new countries, meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. Geology field work in Montana, Mexico and the Mississippi delta and several oceanographic expeditions to the South Pacific only whetted his appetite for what was to become a kaleidoscope life of travel and cross-cultural experiences. He lived and worked for five years in Malaysia (University Sains), Thailand (UNDP) and the Philippines (Mindanao State University) before returning to Hawaii to pursue a professional career searching for solutions to international maritime issues in Asia.

Adventures included exploring the highlands of New Guinea (1970), surveying pirate-infested waters off Northwest Borneo (1972), an expedition to Christmas Island (1971), traveling and teaching in rebel –held territory in Mindanao (1973), and visiting Hanoi (1978), Southern China (1985), the Russian far east (1988), Mongolia (1990), Manchuria (1991) and North Korea (1992 and 1995)– each shortly after their respective openings to the West.

A major achievement was the discovery of his Portuguese Jewish ancestry (de Valenca) and the introduction of his father to his European relatives.

Mark’s life was lived fully– with few regrets. He was an inveterate risk taker –always testing boundaries and wanting to see what was ‘round the next bend.’ Indeed, his life was one big adventure and –some would say– one big party. His sense of humor and practical jokes were legendary.

Mark was a study in contrasts: brilliant but sometimes lacking common sense, creative and obstinate, organized and impulsive, tough-minded and emotionally weak, friendly and pugnacious, forthright and devious, troublemaker and peace-maker. He was an ardent atheist and socialist.

Mark highly valued the freedom of speech. Indeed, he often tested its boundaries, making government representatives, fellow academics and administrative superiors squirm. He was usually in the minority and always for the underdog.

Mark was physically active in the civil rights movement in Austin, Texas in the late 1960s and the movement against our involvement in Vietnam’s civil war. These experiences changed his political outlook forever and he never trusted the US government or its representatives, particularly the military.

He was at various times a hippy, an activist and an internationally known maritime policy analyst with some ten academic books and more than 150 published papers to his credit.

Most important, Mark was a faithful husband to the sultry Malay girl that he fell in love with at first sight in a Kampung on the backside of Penang. He was also a loving and proud father and a good provider for his family.

Mark was a fast friend and a fierce foe—you either loved him or hated him –there was little in between with Mark. His friends and enemies ranged from the elite of many countries to the common person.

Mark is survived by Shabariah Din–his lover, best friend, soul mate and safe harbour in a storm of nearly 50 years, two children Aishah Malaya (husband: David) and Bennett Zakaria (wife: Neilani) of whom he was immensely proud, wonderful grandchildren, Costa, Mariela, Tyler, Mark and Eleana, brother James of Kennebunk, Maine, and first cousin skip of Worcester, Massachusetts.

A celebration of Mark’s life will be held at a later date during the summer. Please reach out if you will be in Hawaii during this time—we would love to see you.

Drinks are on Mark.

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