Mark's Story

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Mark Carlton Johnson, longtime resident of Greenville, South Carolina, died unexpectedly while visiting his daughter in Salem, Oregon.

He was born on March 19, 1955 in Macon, GA. After graduating from Central High School, he left home and joined the Navy where he was stationed in Iceland and London, England and worked as a cryptographic technician. After an honorable discharge he spent three years at the University of Maryland. He then moved to Batavia, NY where he graduated from Genessee Community College and became a registered nurse, which would be his lifelong career and passion. Nursing and the idea of caring for others would shape the rest of his life.

While working as an Intensive Care Nurse in Macon, he met his future wife Gretchen Heidt and they would remain together for the rest of his life. After Gretchen graduated from medical school, Mark again enlisted in the Navy, but this time as a spouse, while Gretchen fulfilled her obligation as a Naval physician. The two were stationed in Iceland when their daughter Anna was born. While in Iceland, Mark completed coursework to obtain his degree from the University of Maryland.

Mark put his career on hold to raise his daughter as a stay-at-home Dad. Anyone who has met Anna can attest to his abilities as a father. Through love and example he taught her to be strong and independent, with a caring nature like his own.

As Anna grew older, he resumed his career as a nurse and his passion for helping those less fortunate than himself. He worked as a nurse at the Greenville Free Medical Clinic for over 15 years. There he cared for thousands of people and was instrumental in growing the clinic into what it is today. He developed a program to treat people with Chronic Hepatitis C that saved many lives and would become a model for other clinics across the US. One of his favorite aspects of working at GFMC was his role as mentor to students who rotated through and he continued to do this as a volunteer even after he retired.

Mark was a natural athlete who could play any sport. He played Little League and Pony League baseball. While in the Navy he played on the Navy European championship basketball team. But of course, as all who knew him were aware, his greatest love was running, a sport he competed in all his life. He ran many marathons and several ultra marathons. He shared his love of running with many friends and family, but especially his daughter Anna, his sister Lee, and his friend Sammy Cox.

Mark was a fierce advocate for those marginalized by society and worked closely with the homeless. He believed in justice and equality and was a strong supporter of the LGBT community. He was a lifetime member of the NAACP.

Mark also loved our earth and he campaigned for the environmental movement for many years. He volunteered with the Upstate Forever group and remained a supporter throughout his life.

He will be deeply missed by his family, friends, the people he touched, and the Greenville Community.

He was predeceased by his father, Julius Scooter Johnson.

He is survived by his wife Gretchen, Greenville, SC; his daughter Anna, Salem, OR; his mother Betty Bissy Johnson, Macon; his sister Lee Johnson and brother-in-law Maury Solis, Valdosta, GA; his sister Peggy Johnson and her partner Nancy Nesser, Oklahoma City, OK; his brother David and niece and nephew Elli and Corey Johnson, Gainesville, GA; his parents-in-law Joan and Tony Heidt, Tybee Island, GA; his brother and sister-in-law Francis and Kellen and nephew and niece Henry and Cate Heidt, Simpsonville, SC; and his brother and sister-in-law David and Rene and nephew Aubrey Heidt, Tybee Island, GA.

The family asks that any donations be made to the Greenville Free Medical Clinic, 600 Arlington Ave. Greenville, SC 29601-3204 or your favorite charity.

A graveside service will be held Saturday, November 18 at 11AM at Riverside Cemetery, 1301 Riverside Dr. Macon, GA, main gate entrance.

Please sign the online guest registry at www.hartsmort.com.

Harts Mortuary, 765 Cherry St. Macon, GA 31201 has charge of arrangements.
Published on November 10, 2017
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