An appreciation of the life of Mark James who died on 13th October
Mark James died at home in Stoke Ferry on 13th October after a long struggle with pain and cancer. His family were with him and had been able to spend much of the preceding weeks at his bedside, cheering and comforting him.
Mark retired to Stoke Ferry in 1976 with his wife Freda, after a long career as a lecturer in Physical Education, mainly at Goldsmiths' College S.E London. Towards the end of the 1939
- 1945 war Mark came to work in West Norfolk as P.E. Adviser for the area, teaching part-time each week at Downham Market Grammar School. Freda also taught at the school. During this time they lived at Stowe Bridge in the school house, where daughter Patricia Mary was born. Two years later, Margaret Vivien was born in nearby Stowe Hall Maternity Hospital..
In Stoke Ferry and district, Mark and Freda immersed themselves into many aspects of the community life - helping with the Village Pump, the Methodist Church, The Community Association (as it planned the new school and facilities). They made many new friends and renewed contacts with former pupils and friends from the post-war years, including the Bennett family from Downham Market, with whom the family have close ties. With Margaret and John living in Denver for much of that time and Pat and Chris in West Dereham (and working at Stoke Ferry school, Mark and Freda had children, grandchildren and later great-grandchildren close around them.
When Freda, the steadfast bulwark of Mark's life, died in 1998, after a long deterioration through Alzheimers Disease and asthma, Mark felt, for many months, that his life was an empty shell.
Eventually, Mark found new purpose in sharing life with Beryl, who with husband Ken, had been life-long friends of Freda and Mark since college days. Now having both lost their respective partners, they found comfort and strength in sharing each other's homes, at Stoke Ferry and at Worlingham, near Beccles, Suffolk, on a rota basis and in venturing on holidays, even to France.
A great blow to their self-reliance came when Mark had a stroke and could for a time no-longer drive them between their homes and to the places of beauty they both enjoyed. By now approaching 90, Mark did resume driving on localised trips for a few more years, but increasingly the agony and apprehension of his painful joints meant getting into and driving a car was nigh impossible. Thankfully, Mark and Beryl were able to attend the wedding of grandson Paul to Ruth on the 30th May this year and afterwards to enjoy the reception for several hours. Since then outings have mainly been essential hospital visits.
Despite being confined to bed completely for the last ten days or so, Mark enjoyed the close company of his daughters, grand- and great-grandchildren, sharing jokes and music as they sat with him, and showing the vitality of his Christian faith as he faced his final hours here on earth.
The family wish to express their immense gratitude to Sister Dot Lodge and her magnificent team of carers, who looked after Mark so wonderfully during his last days.
His family rejoice in the richness of his long life, the generosity of his love and the certainty of his faith in the good news of life-eternal.