Fossil Rim Wildlife Center benefited from Mark Phillips fully investing himself into its education programs from 2012-20.
Born on September 17, 1966 in Kijabe, Kenya, Mark passed away on June 3, 2020 in Glen Rose, Texas after a four-month battle with cancer.
He lived a full life and impacted people around the globe. After graduating boarding school from Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Mark attended Kansas State University and earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology.
Mark began dating Cara Kirkpatrick in high school, and they were married in 1988. They returned to Kenya in 1996, where they taught and ministered at a Kenyan high school for two years. In 1998, they headed back to the U.S. and Mark commenced working at Riverbend Retreat Center in Glen Rose in 1999.
In 2003, they returned to East Africa and Mark started work in Tanzania. In 2009, the Phillips family returned to Glen Rose and, in 2012, Mark launched his career as an education specialist at Fossil Rim.
A father of four children – Caitlynn, Laurynn, Benjamin, and Natalynn – Mark knew how to capture a child’s imagination and teach him or her about the wonders of nature. He received numerous compliments from parents through social media, email, and in person over the years for how much their children enjoyed his teaching, as well as how much they learned.
Mark always helped the education department in any way he could, but he was best-known for bringing Fossil Rim’s homeschool programs to life.
Kristen Hannah, Executive Coordinator, knew Mark well at Fossil Rim and outside the facility, as well.
“I am close to Mark’s family, having gone to church with them for over a decade and living next door to them for three years,” Hannah said. “Each family member is a joy to be around, and it is clear that Mark led his family well. His faith in God shone through his every interaction at home, at church, at work, and anywhere else you may have encountered him. He truly was a genuine, loving man who greeted each person with joyful enthusiasm.
“When you spoke, Mark listened intently and asked questions to further draw you out. I have enjoyed many a dinner or afternoon chai (tea) at his home with his family, and there was always laughter and a peaceful atmosphere. The whole family is extremely resilient and, through each trial, they have rooted themselves in the peace, faith, hope, and love of God.”
Director of Education Jennifer Arledge valued the positivity Mark brought to her department every single day.
“Mark was a truly kind, generous person who was the ultimate optimist – seeing the good in everything and everyone,” Arledge said. “He never met a stranger and made each person he encountered feel important. He also felt pure joy in sharing his knowledge and love of the natural world with the thousands of people he taught during his years of working at Fossil Rim. Not only has Fossil Rim suffered a tremendous loss, but the environment that he honored and protected lost one of its greatest champions.”
-Tye Chandler, Marketing Associate