Amber Mark spent most of her life in the Eugene-Springfield area. She is remembered by a bright smile, an incredible sense of humor, and the support she provided to those she loved.
Mark was camping in a grassy area off of Hwy 99 on Sept. 8 when a driver ran off the road and into her tent, killing her. The driver has been charged with murder. Mark was 42.
Mark’s early life was like so many others. According to her cousin, Sarah Gallino, the two spent lots of time together on their grandmother’s property just outside Springfield. As children the two were often adventuring, playing make believe or talking in the old car that they dreamed of restoring one day.
Gallino fondly remembers Mark’s sense of humor and the pranks they played on their friends when they were kids. “We made them cookies that we actually chewed up and ate and then spit them back out,” Gallino said laughing over the phone. “They told us they were the best cookies we had ever made and we were like, ‘Yeah, they tasted great the first time, too.’”
In her teenage years, Mark came to live with Gallino, and they relied on each other for support. “She was my person that I could talk to about anything,” Gallino says. “Those dark times in life when you don’t want to be alone and you feel so alone. She showed up.”
As young adults the two lived together, but soon went their separate ways and lost contact. According to Gallino, despite being family the two grew up in very different settings. “The only real difference I can see between us is privilege,” Gallino says. “I could’ve been her.”
Mark spent some time living in Washington but came back to Oregon roughly eight years ago when she found out that her father had been diagnosed with cancer and would be living with her aunt and uncle.
According to Mystic Burson, Mark’s aunt, she came back and lived with them in order to care for her father. “He called her and told her, she got on a bus that day and rode two days to get here,” Burson says. “She stayed here over a month, and night and day was at his side.”
This memory stuck with Burson and to her showed the compassion and caring that Mark always had. Evidence of that life-long compassion is reflected in the so many loved ones that remember Mark’s smile. “She was always smiling when I saw her,” Burson says.
Mark faced many challenges later in life, including homelessness, drug use and convictions associated with the two. However, she always remained the same supportive and loving person, according to her longtime friend Teresa Patterson.
The two lost touch for a while after being neighbors in 2000, but reconnected in recent years. Patterson began working at the Lindholm Service Center on Hwy 99 and saw Mark there regularly. According to her, Mark would often come to her at the service center to talk, especially when she was having a rough day.
“She had a huge heart,” says Patterson. “Even on her roughest day, if somebody needed something she would definitely step up and try to help them out.”
She is survived by her mother, Bonnie Trader, her brothers Christopher Russell, Aaron Mark and Donald Mark, her sisters Kathryn Mark, Megan Suchanek and Mckenzie Sherman and her only daughter Destinee Sherman. A memorial service was held near Mark’s campsite on Hwy 99 on Sept. 14.
Eugene Weekly seeks to run obituaries for those who die homeless in Lane County. If you know of someone who has died while homeless this year, please let us know at Editor@EugeneWeekly.com.