Winslow/Old Orchard Beach – On Monday, January 16, 2017, Mark Andrew Theriault, 59, formerly of Winslow and Old Orchard Beach, died peacefully at the Gosnell Hospice Home in Scarborough as a result of advanced lung disease. He passed away in the loving presence of his brothers and the Rev. John Balicki whom upon completion of a final prayer witnessed Mark’s first step to his new life. Two days prior to Mark’s passage, all his siblings were gathered with him at his home in Old Orchard to share in prayer and love for one final family gathering. Mark is now one with the angels and with the God that provided strength and courage during his earthly journey. He is also in the arms and company of his dearly loved mother and father.
Mark was predeceased by his loving parents Joe and Olivette Theriault formerly of Winslow, ME. He is survived by his sister Lee Ann Whitaker and husband Jon of Bolivia, NC; sister Jean Sylvia and husband Bill of Bar Harbor, ME; brother Paul Theriault and wife Julie of Oakland, ME; brother Jim Theriault and wife Alex of Belgrade, ME; along with precious nieces, nephews and significant others including Danae and Jason Shipp; Kaylan Whitaker; Megan and Chuck Pettit and their sons Chance and Jack; Patrick and Heather Theriault and Heather’s children Aliyah and Nevaeh; Stacy and Jed Nickerson; Spencer Theriault and Sowmya Reddy. He’s also survived by many, many close cousins and friends. Once you met Mark, you were his friend for life.
Born on January 30, 1957 in Waterville, ME, Mark attended St. John’s Elementary School and Winslow High School where he graduated in 1976. He was an avid sports fan and played high school football where in his senior year he was elected captain of the team. The late, great Harold ‘Tank’ Violette was a long time, coach, friend, and second father to Mark. Following high school, Mark joined the United States Navy and served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower for three years. As part of his duties Mark travelled the world and visited many interesting places that left lasting memories and was an important formative experience in his young life. He was honorably discharged with a partial disability in 1981.
Shortly after his discharge, Mark was diagnosed with bi-polar depression which was to become the first of two significant life challenges. Living and coping with mental illness was a new experience for Mark and the entire Theriault family. Suffice it to say, that as Mark cycled through the highs and lows of this terrible disease so also did his loving parents, siblings and significant others. A good day for Mark was to just simply make it through the day with some sense of accomplishment and positive feelings. When he could work, he was an ironworker with the local union and worked on various construction projects in Central Maine. As fate and circumstance dictated, Mark became fully disabled as a result of this illness in 1984. The following 10 years witnessed Mark holding and leaving several part time jobs and seeking frequent mental health visits at the US VA in Togus, ME.
It was on January 20, 1994 that Mark was faced with the second and most significant challenge of his life. It was on that day while travelling to Togus for treatment that Mark sustained a significant and permanent Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as the result of an auto accident. He was taken to the Critical Care Unit of Togus VA where he was in a full coma for four months; transferred to Northport VA (Long Island) for another 5 months where in early September 1994, he awakened to greet his loving mother, sister, niece and a few cousins. As his mother frequently said after this event, “I do not require the Easter Story to remind me of the miracle of re-birth. I have the miracle of my son as a source of God’s love each and every day.”
Following Mark’s stay at Togus and Northport VA, he began a several year-long process at recovery in terms of learning how to perform all the basic life functions we take for granted. The miracle of this re-birth was that he not only recognized members of his family and loved ones but also was reawakened from his coma with a loving, cheerful and joyful disposition dedicated to erasing all bad memories and actions of the prior 10 plus years. Miracles come in many different and unique ways.
Mark’s 20 plus year journey with TBI was and will always be an incredible sojourn. We will forever be grateful to all the wonderful doctors, nurses and rehabilitation specialists at Togus & Northport VA’s as well as the loving rehabilitative staffs at Lakeview and Neuro Restorative Centers and Group Homes in teaching Mark to cope with both his TBI and Bi-Polar conditions. In particular, we’d like to cite the loving and long term efforts of Patricia Cirafella who went above and beyond in her loving care for Mark and was there to pick him up when he fell and rejoice in his many moments of success. There were many angels in Mark’s life; none more significant and loving as Pat.
In Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ , he describes a person’s ability to find meaning in hopeless situations by saying, “Any person can decide under the most difficult of circumstances what is to become of them both mentally and spiritually. One may retain their honor and dignity and realize a genuine inner achievement that makes life meaningful and purposeful.” Mark found incredible purpose in his life by loving his family and friends (and anyone he met) with unquestioned love. He found inspired purpose by sharing his experiences with families dealing with loved ones stricken with incidents of TBI for the first time. He engaged in daily prayer and fostered an incredible spiritual connection to the God he knew and loved by opening his arms wide with unqualified appreciation to everyone he met. His greatest gift to all was the gift of perspective. He understood that there were other TBI patients far worse off than he and was thankful for his many blessings each and every day. Everyone who knew and loved Mark could not help but be impressed with this outlook and be touched forever as a result. He was a loving brother, friend and teacher and will be dearly missed.
A memorial celebration of Mark’s life will be held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Waterville later this Spring. The Theriault and St. Mark families will make arrangements and send out notices well in advance of this event.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution in Mark’s name to:
Hospice of Southern Maine
180 US Route 1
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
(attn.: Discretionary Fund)
60 Eustis Parkway
Waterville, ME 04901