Rev. Mark Philip Schowalter, 62, of West Burlington, Iowa, however by heart a devout Wisconsin man, died Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at Great River Medical Center in West Burlington.
Born December 13, 1956 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota he was the son of Rev. George H. and Joyce M. (Rintelmann) Schowalter. His early years were spent in Fountain City, Wisconsin and later graduated from North High School in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He continued his education and graduated from Lakeland University (formerly Lakeland College).
Mark was diagnosed with Diabetes at the age of seven, and lost his sight due to the disease in 1979. Since his youth, Mark dreamed of becoming a Pastor. Determined to fulfill his dream he graduated from United Theological Seminary and was ordained at Pilgram United Church of Christ in Grafton, Wisconsin in 1984.
During his seminary days he served as youth director. His first pastoral assignment call was to Nekoosa, Wisconsin. He accepted a call to St. Paul United Church of Christ in West Burlington, Iowa. It was there that he met and married his love, Sue Hockett Royer. Mark and Sue were married on May 29, 1993 at the church. Together they celebrated over 26 years of marriage.
During much of his life Mark was involved in the ministries of the United Church program "Outdoor Ministries", first as a pastor and later as a director. He offered pastoral leadership to many churches in Iowa and Wisconsin. Most recently again at St. Paul United Church of Christ in West Burlington.
Even through losing a leg due to his diabetes, Mark never saw himself as handicapped, but more as handiCAPABLE. He wrote and published a book "From Eagle to Chicken and Back" and most recently a Christmas musical "Angel Inc. ~ The Reason for the Season" which is in the works for this coming Christmas season. He loved writing and blogging, more recently his "From the Wilderness" that was sent out to email participants and daily on his Facebook page.
Even though blind, Mark could still play the piano, trumpet and guitar in addition to being a wonderful singer. "Music plus Ministry equals Mark".
Sailing, Sailing, Sailing, it was his passion, his love and his solace, be it on Moon Lake, Green Lake, Lake Michigan and/or Lake Superior and let's not forget his beloved Green Bay Packers.
Mark is survived by his loving wife, nurse and caretaker, Sue Schowalter of West Burlington; three step sons, Jason (Brittany) Royer, Bret (Katie Howell) Royer and Boone (Heather) Royer all of West Burlington; six grandchildren, Aurora, Belle, Piercen, Aiden, MacGyver and Remy; his parents, Rev. George and Joyce Schowalter of West Bend, WI; two sisters, LouAnn (Dan) Parsons of Greenfield, WI and Karen (Gabe) Pehler of Fountain City, WI; two brothers, John (Tina) Schowalter of Alma, WI and Joel (Jill) Schowalter of Grafton, WI; several nieces and nephews; and last, but certainly not least, his beloved constant companion, Rosie, his Doberman.
The Celebration of Life for Pastor Mark will be 3:00 p.m. Saturday, November 2nd at Lunning Chapel. His longtime friend and colleague Glenn Svetnicka will officiate. Visitation will be from 1:00 p.m. until the time of celebration where the family will receive friends. A private family inurnment will be held at a later date in Wisconsin.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established for Moon Beach Camp, St. Germain, Wisconsin.
According to his wishes, cremation has been accorded and entrusted to the care of his friends at Lunning Chapel.
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I was the dean of students at Lakeland college when Mark was student body president. A fine student and a natural leader. We had some wonderful moments at L.C. I came to know him a a pastoral colleague when he was in Genoa city. I was interim at first congregational UCC in lake geneva. We traveled to Rhinehart ulrich’s memorial service together. Unfortunately, that was my last contact with Mark. “We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and I’d we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” And a star to steer him by! Godspeed Mark and blessing to all this you loved and all those who loved you. Dave Strang former Dean Of Students at L.C.
So sorry to hear about Mark's passing. To think I was his counselor at camp in his youth and then met up with him again years later when I was at Moon Beach for work camp. My counselor name was "Granny".
All my sympathy and thoughts are with his family. Chris (Anderson) Blimel from Two Rivers, WI
I remember Mark from from several summer camp sessions I attended at Pilgrim Center in the early to mid 80s. I remember lots of laughing, singing and rejoicing together at meal times. And I remember his service dog Babe. Thank you Mark!
From youth pastor at Zion UCC, Milwaukee to summers at Moon Beach Camp, I am grateful for you Mark. We were blessed to have you with us and you will be missed.
I was so sorry to hear about death he and I became friends in the 70's I have many fond memories of the times that we shared . We spent a lot of time together in music anywhere from retreats at Lakeland College to Church camps at Pilgrim and Moon Beach. Some of my fondest memories were camping at Terry Andrae State park to cooking spaghetti at his apartment But one of our best was turtling a sailboat in the middle of Green lake and trying to take down all of the rigging underwater. The Sheriffs department was not to happy with us having to tow the boat back to shore. I knew mark before he lost his eyesight and I remember driving down to the hospital in Milwaukee where we would play guitar and sing songs for the Nurses. Even going through those times he had such a gift to make others feel happy and welcome. The nurses always found some extra time to spend with him. He was the kind of friend that even though you hadn't communicated for some time the conversation would be like you just talked yesterday. One of the songs that we used to play quite a bit at retreats sums up a lot about Mark:
Love is like a circle that will never never end. Love is in the circling of my arms around a friend. This is my circle song it will last your whole life long Sing Love Love Love..... Its a circle song. I am sure that Mark is with our Lord and is Circling all of us with his arms singing to his hearts content. I will miss you my friend
My heart goes out to your family. I have always had a great deal of respect for the Rev. Schowalter, his drive for life and his love of God. His next adventure awaits.
Eric, Casey, Isabella & Alexander Thornburgh
Dear George, Joyce and Family,
Peace and Love to all - Laura Hawkins
Lake Superior Sailing
The Schowalters and I share Sheboygan North,
bratwurst, best and worst,
as as common blessings or curses,
but our St. Mark never cursed,
instead met and topped all handicaps,
and lifted many of us up,
even when we were blindsided
Faith, hope and love
abide, live and thrive
in remarkable Mark,
the harked angels
and the unlikely likes of us.
My children and I will be forever grateful to Mark and Sue for the open arms in which they embraced us at Moon Beach camp. Mark lived his faith every day. And the world is a better place because of it. - Marci Hitz
We remember with affection our time with Mark, at his first pastoral assignment as Youth Director with the Nekoosa United Church of Christ, where I was pastor. We appreciated his passion for ministry, certainly for young people, and were glad to share in ministry in the Nekoosa UCC. We were always impressed by his ability to do many things in spite of his blindness. We were also privileged to attend the wedding in his first marriage, even though it was superseded by a much happier and more successful marriage to Sue. We extend our sympathy in particular to Sue and his parents, George and Joyce, as well as to other family members and friends. We hope that we will be able to attend the later memorial service in Wisconsin.
Rev. Roger & Emily Brooks
Oh we are so very sorry for your loss. We loved reading Mark’s blog. He was so talented and always willing to help others. So sorry for the empty hole he leaves in your hearts with his passing.
Lori Enloe. I met Mark while studying at UW River Falls when Mark was studying at UTS. Enjoyed singing and sailing with Mark. His humor and love of life and the outdoors were infectious. Sending thoughts of comfort to Sue and family and to Mark's parents and siblings.
I’m so saddened to hear of Mark’s passing. He was our youth pastor at First Congregational UCC in River Falls. I have so many wonderful memories of time spent with Mark and Babe. He was a great man and his passing leaves a hole in the world. My deepest condolences to Sue and all the rest of the family.
Thor Hunter I met Mark at a church high school youth group retreat in about 1980-1981. I remember standing at a window with him, looking out the window. I looked out and commented how the moon was out, and it was beautiful. If I recall right, he told me about the last time he had seen the moon, something about it being before a surgery or procedure. He was such a faith-filled young man. I have just missed meeting him again several times in my life--we almost ran into each other at Moon Beach once or twice, he had just spoken at some conference I was at, and so on. I want to tell him I remember him, and how those high school chances at leadership meant so much to my life. I am sad to hear of his passing. He left an impression in my life, and even though I never got to speak to him again, he was so very much a formative part in other faith-related parts of my life. His presence here has shaped the lives of people far beyond his knowing. I'll see you in heaven, Mark.
I came to know Mark back in the early 1980s when I was pastor at St. John's and Fountain City (and heard the story of the hillside campfire that got out of hand when Mark was a Fountain City kid--not mentioned in his obituary, I note), and have been in contact off and on for many years since. I remember stories of his time at United Seminary--when my mother and others from the River Falls Congregation read to him from his seminary texts, and were impressed with his retention of material! And I remember his good spirits, positive attitude, and wonderful, joyous sense of humor-- his stories, told laughingly, of playing volleyball with the kids at Moon Beach... and indeed being capable-capped (in a handy sort of way, perhaps?) Mary and I send condolences to Sue, and to George and Joyce, and dear Karen, as well as all others of his family whom I know less well. Sorry we are unable to attend the funeral service. I am grateful to have known Mark as a colleague! -Rev. Charles Wolfe, Prescott WI
Mark was one of the first to reach out when I joined the SE IA Association. I enjoyed many fun and animated conversations with Mark, who was always so encouraging, attentive and kind! - Rev. Robert Koepcke
Am so sorry for your loss Sue. He was such an extraordinary person.
Rev. Paula Anderson
To the Schowalter family,
I first met Mark in a clergy group while serving in East Troy. He was such a good support and inspiration, full of life and fun with an ability to see the world in ways that were so refreshing. The last conversation with Mark happened at Moon Beach camp a couple of years ago. We sat on a bench in the main lodge, the patient Rosie at our feet and discussed every subject under the Son. What turned out to be a final conversation will always be a wonderful, encouraging memory.
Thoughts and prayers are with you as you celebrate Mark's life. and continue on.
Mark's passing saddened my heart and took me by surprise. He was such a good man and a wonderful colleague. I had so many phone conversations with him and loved spending time with him as he finished his book several years ago. I have so many memories of him laughing and giving good advice. We were all blessed to know Mark. My heart and prayers go out to Sue and the family.
We regularly attended the Schowalter Family Camp at Moon Beach and appreciated our time with Mark, Sue and the family. He was a fine minister and person with extraordinary talents including being a successful blind sailor on the treacherous waters of Lake Superior. He will be missed. Jack Schairer & Family
Mark has been a friend since the 70's, and I will miss him immensely. His courage, humour, faith and love of fun will leave a giant void in so many lives. But I can also imagine him laughing up there, with his Lord, and wanting his friends to keep loving the Lord and having fun. Fair winds and tides, sailing buddy.
Mark was a colleague in ministry when he served the UCC in Genoa City, Wisconsin. With both of us being "Marks" and our last names both starting with the letter "S" we continually have a discussion about who was "Mark" and who was with the other "Mark." Usually I deferred and introduced myself to him as "the other Mark." Our paths crossed again when Mark was at Moon Beach Camp near St. +Germain, Wisconsin. His upbeat attitude was something I and many others, appreciated.
Mark was one special minister we had the pleasure of getting to know through Zion church in Wisconsin. We will always remember our times at youth camps. His gift of music was shared my many. Remembering you will always put a smile on our faces. Our hearts go out to you Sue 😘
Mark was a seminary friend and roommate.
His call to ministry was strong. We stayed connected by facebook and calls on the phone. His loving energy will be remembered and missed. ~ Dan Batson
Mark was a childhood friend. Would see him from time to time at class reunions. always had a good sense of humor,and always a kind word,even as a child. He will be missed .Our prayers are with you Sue and family that the lord will bring people and friend in to your lives to help you in times of sorrow.
Oh Sue, I am very sorry to see this. Please know you are in my thoughts during this difficult time.
Rick remembers Mark being the Genoa City Fire department chaplain.
Mark was a close friend. He came to the 1st Congregational Church in the early 80s when My husband and I arrived from Brasil. Mark and I went to United Theological at the same time and being blind needed someone to take him. My husband, Gus, became his driver. While in seminary, I was Campus Minister in River Falls and Mark, being of the same age as the residents of the house, was a constant participant with us there as well as in my house. Gus and I then and I were a part of his life in those years, he and Babe, his wonderful guide dog. And I have a story that shows Mark's extraordinary abilities to live with his blindness. Because of a misunderstanding as to when my classes at Seminary that day would be over, when I arrived at our meeting place I was informed that Mark and Gus had already left. I went into the panic zone for you see Gus had not yet learned to understand English except for the basics so how could Mark tell him how to get to River Falls as he was totally without sight. But he did and the story of how he did so was long discussed with amazement. My husband's explanation of how Mark communicated with him was a source of much laughter among us. Mark, choosing common words, Gus could understand, would say something like this. " Do you see such and such a building or store or some other landmark? You can turn there, if not keep going straight on the highway" . They made it and for years laughed about it especially as Gus's English improved. Mark was a remarkable man whom we admired and loved!
Rev. Barb de Souza
I enjoyed having Mark as a colleague at UTS, along with his Seeing Eye dog, (Babe?) and seeing him at Annual Conference meetings when I was in Wisconsin. I kept updated about his ministry through a mutual friend, Barb. I was sad to hear of his death. My prayers go out to you, Sue, and the rest of Mark's family as you grieve his loss, but also celebrate the wonderful person he was and how many lives he touched.
God's peace be with you, Mark's family and friends. He has been a blessing to so many! I met him at the WI Conference UCC Annual Meeting several years ago and have always been inspired by his courage, his kindness and his humor! We send our prayers. Mary Jo Laabs, Pastor, Community UCC, Medford, WI
Mark and I go way back. We went to North High School together and then on to Lakeland (College) University. We would either meet up at Lakeland’s Homecomings or once I saw him at a NHS reunion. My heart would skip a beat when we met at these functions because he was a dear old friend and always so nice. My condolences to his family. He inspired many and was loved by all. Lori L. ( Wangemann) January
Oh Sue, I’m so sorry. Thinking of you all.
Our deepest sympathy to you Sue and your family. We are so sorry for your loss. Mark was truly a child of God and an inspiration to all who met him. God is with you during this difficult time and always.
Randy and Kathy Pfantz
Sue, my heart aches for you tonight as I learn of Mark's death. I only knew Mark briefly, though in those short months he made me feel welcomed in the SE Association. May he rest in peace. I'm sorry I won't be able to come and celebrate his life on Sat, as I will be officiating a wedding. Many hugs and prayers lifted to you and your family.
Rev. Dixie Laube, Kahoka, MO
Sue, so sorry for your loss. I first heard Mark speak at my dear friend Ginny Fry's funeral. He was awesome. I see him with a friend at breakfast at the Hungry Bear at times. My heart goes out to you during this difficult time. Loretta Hitchcock Poindexter.
I’m deeply saddened by Mark’s passing. Mark was truly one of the kindest people I have ever known. He had a great sense of humor and amazing courage. Prayers to Sue and the family at this difficult time. There is peace in knowing his suffering has ended. Peggy Yull Brummond.
I will always remember Mark and his incredible faith and trust in God who made him one of my most memorable colleagues and friend. My sincere condolences, Sue and your family. I'm so glad the two of you had 26 years together. Rev. Dave Rogula
My condolences and God Bless
Brother Mark touched my life... and changed it. Forever in our hearts. Sending much love to Sue, your sons and grandchildren... and Rosie.
Moon Beach won’t be the same without him. My deepest condolences to you, Sue, and to Rosie
We've known Mark since his early teens as our clergy families became close friends. As he faced adversity, his love of life and his faith in the goodness of God shown through. His ministry to the world and determination to overcome the physical and emotional toll of diabetes shown brightly as he continued to use his many gifts to serve others. We loved him, his many gifts and acts of ministry, and are grateful for Sue, an angel on earth, and the support of their families and friends.
It is my hope that the voice of Mark, his faith, and acts of determination in using his gifts will permeate our thoughts when we are faced with adversity.
Love and Comfort to all who mourn his loss in this life. May his gifts strengthen ours.
Mark was a great man, he did the service when my dad passed, fantastic job, always liked seeing him down at Napoli's enjoying a meal there. I will miss seeing him around town, prayers and condolences to all of his family.
Mark was an amazing person. I am glad I got to know him through the Lions Club. He was always upbeat and that was contagious. He will be missed by all that had the privilege to call him a friend.
Sue “Today and always, may loving memories bring you peace, comfort, and strength.”
Sue, “Today and always, may loving memories bring you peace, comfort, and strength.”
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