EULOGY FOR SCOTT MORK
Longtime friend, Scott Mork, passed away on September 12, 2023, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Many of you likely didn’t know Scott. The first thing I’ll say about Scott is that he was an Eagle Scout, attaining Scouting’s highest rank with his West Duluth BSA Troop back in 1973. I start with this bit of “Zork”-that’s what pal Bruce Larson called him-trivia because the Scout motto, “Be Prepared”, was part and parcel of who Scott was. Even in his last days, when he refused medical interventions to prolong his life, Scott followed the Scout motto. How so? He texted me a few weeks before he passed away and asked me to write this Facebook piece for his Duluth friends and neighbors.
Scott grew up the son of John Willis and Marge Mork. He was raised in West Duluth (no “Spirit Valley” nonsense for Scotty!), attending Laura MacArthur Elementary, West Junior High, and Duluth Denfeld High School (DDHS) as a proud member of the Class of ‘74. His sophomore and junior years at DDHS, Scott participated in both speech and debate. His senior year, Scott was elected vice-president of his class and to Pyramid (student council). He was also selected to be a Junior Rotarian. Scott was a proud member of “McLoughlin’s Marauders”: an intramural basketball team at Denfeld. Playing for the Marauders, Scott achieved notoriety-if not Hall of Fame status-as the most foul-prone hack on a team full of hacks (earning Scott the beloved nickname, “Hatchet Man Mork”). In addition, Scott was a star in numerous vignettes and movies written and directed by his buddy, John McLoughlin, including two of the three “Quegley” flicks (most notably as a Fung Yu monk); a shockingly risqué aftershave commercial; and other hilarious McLoughlin film projects.
While attending Denfeld and UMD, Scott worked at the West End Bridgeman’s until his generosity (he gave little kids and his pals “too much ice cream”) ended his time as a soda fountain jerk. At UMD, Scott hunkered down to serious study and also pledged Alpha Phi Omega. He graduated in 1978 with a BA in Business. He then began a lengthy business career, finding work in the Twin Cities, and it was while working there that Scott’s life was forever altered.
Involved in a near-fatal car accident, Scott was rendered paraplegic. But, after completing months of grueling rehab at Sister Kinney and learning to drive a hand-controlled automobile, Scott’s indelible Moxy shone through and he continued on with life. Following rehab, Scott revisited his McLoughlin’s Marauders days by becoming a fierce competitor in wheelchair basketball. He ended up traveling throughout Minnesota to play in tournaments, never the star, but always eager to play. In addition, Scott’s demeanor and dedication to his rehabilitation earned him “Sister Kinney Patient of the Year”, an honor of which he was very proud and which led him to serve on the Sister Kinney board of directors.
Scott spent 20 years in the Twin Cities and Indianapolis working as a Sales Manager and Marketing Services Manager for ITT/Cannon. During his employment with ITT, Scott completed the University of St. Thomas-Opus College of Business MBA program. For the remainder of his work-life, Scott held various administrative, management, human resource, and other business-related positions, including serving nearly 8 years as the Business Manager of Geist Christian Church of Indianapolis, retiring in April of 2020.
Along his life journey, Scott maintained close contact with a group of friends from Duluth, getting together with them whenever he was in town and, on one occasion, joining them on a Caribbean cruise. Everyone on that cruise fondly remembers Scott’s grit and determination-as the group visited various islands-to be part of it all even though many tourist destinations were nowhere near wheelchair friendly. He also enjoyed co-piloting a tourist van filled with his Duluth friends during a trip to a volcano, never blinking an eye as the rattle-trap van careened around unguarded bends on a narrow, gravel, mountain road. But the image of Scott his cruising pals will never forget is the night Scott danced late into the evening at the ship’s disco with a half-dozen nurses on vacation: twirling and bobbing and weaving his wheelchair to the music and to the delight of his female companions (an incident fondly remembered as “Nursecapades”). Scott always did love the ladies!
Recently, Scott began to struggle with his health. Even so, through numerous hospital stays, procedures, confinements, operations, and medical interventions, Scott fought to remain the same happy-go-lucky guy I first met in Mrs. Minter’s kindergarten Sunday school class at Holy Apostles Episcopal Church. That church was the center of my relationship with Scott. We spent Sundays together. We attended Christian Sex Education Class together (at our mother’s insistence!). We were confirmed together. And as part of a small cohort of Episcopalian teenagers, we attended many, many youth group events together. Through it all, he was a boy-and later, a man-of faith who tried his best to live the Christian creed he professed.
Two summers ago, a mutual friend (and fellow Quegley) Dave Michelson convinced me to tag along with he and his wife, Lail, to visit Scott in Indiana. It was a quick trip, just a few nights in Indianapolis to see our buddy. I was truly amazed at Scott’s prowess as he drove around Indianapolis in his conversion van (the kind with the lift installed for a wheelchair), weaving in and out of freeway congestion. We spent a lovely day at the zoo, had a fine Italian meal (Scott insisted on paying), shot the breeze at Scott’s condo, had breakfast the next morning, and said our goodbyes. That was the last time I saw Scott. Dave and Lail Michelson and Bruce and Jan Larson saw him earlier this year in Indiana after Scott experienced another health setback. Those visits proved to be the last occasions his old friends from Minnesota got to witness Zork’s great smile and see that he was still, despite the curveball’s life had thrown at him, the same, slightly gawky, very smart, ready-for-fun kid from West Duluth we all came to know and love.
Scott was predeceased by his parents, and is survived by his sister, Kathryn Nelson; niece Chris Horvatich and her son Wyatt Thompson; Aunt Marilyn Anderson; and other members of the extended Anderson and Mork families. In addition, Scott is missed by many life-long Duluth friends and a huge group of Indianapolis friends, including Chaleen Stevens and her daughter Faith¾with whom Scott shared many holidays and who also comforted Scott during his hospitalizations and his final days.
Memorials are preferred to the Greater Denfeld Foundation Scholarship Fund, the Sister Kinney Institute, or to a charity of the giver’s choice. Funeral arrangements in Indianapolis are pending and this post will be updated as to those arrangements. It’s anticipated the service will be live-streamed to accommodate folks not able to make the trip to Indianapolis.
Peace, my friend.