We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Potter Funeral Home
Mark Svetz passed away on June 17, 2022, just a few days past his 70th birthday. He was born in Torrington, CT the son of Henry J. and Joan Duffy Svetz. Mark grew up in Harwinton, CT where he lived until his son Gregory was a year old, and they moved to Willimantic. In Willimantic, Mark graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in history and later attended Eastern Connecticut State University to earn his teaching certificate.
He is survived by his wife and the love of his life, Sarah Winter; his son, Gregory J. Svetz and daughter-in-law, Elizabeth and his most cherished granddaughter, Miriam J. Svetz to whom he will be forever Nonno. He is also survived by his brother, Michael Svetz and sister-in-law Betty Jo of VA; his niece Amanda and nephew Ross. He is grieved by his brothers- and sisters-in-law, Bob and Nancy, Hugh and Rosemary, Bill and Jean, Dan and Mary and their children.
Mark’s heart was as expansive and loving as his brain was keen and quick. He was open to people, regardless of their station in life. His death leaves a hole in the fabric of life of Willimantic and beyond. As a teenager, Mark saw value in identifying and living by an ethical code. Over the years he turned to his code as a template by which to shape his actions. Among other ideas his code included kindness and compassion. He wasn’t afraid to speak his mind and considered his life an open book.
From 1974-81, Mark worked as a journalist for the Willimantic Chronicle and The Norwich Bulletin. He continued his journalistic work in publishing the Windham Phoenix (1985-87) with Mike Westerfield and was a regular contributor to Neighbors Paper. Mark worked as an ESL educator at the Center for English as a Second Language at Eastern Connecticut State University and Quinebaug Valley Community College.
In the community, Mark was active in many ways, often working alongside his best friend, Tony Clark. With the ACLU, Mark and Tony successfully sued the city of Willimantic winning a permanent injunction against a Loitering Ordinance. Mark and Tony worked with the Windham Land Trust to bring fair and secure housing to Willimantic residents. He worked with PROP (Puerto Rican Organization Program), organizing the Celebration of Differences in Willimantic, Mark also started the Willimantic Needle Exchange alongside Tony. Starting with a simple drive to Brattleboro to purchase clean syringes these steady friends saved countless lives in our town by exchanging dirty syringes for clean when the AIDS epidemic was rampaging through the state and country. Their work was instrumental in bringing the CT legislature to legalize the purchase and possession of clean syringes by individuals in the state. In 1992, Mother Jones magazine awarded him the title “Local Hero” for his work.
Mark and Sarah moved to New York City in 1993 where he worked as Education Coordinator for Community Access, a consumer driven mental health agency. Moving back to Willimantic in 2004, he worked with Sarah as they ran Clothworks, manufacturing and retailing hemp clothing and bags.
Mark was born with polycystic kidney disease. In 2011, a stranger, who would later donate a kidney, was introduced to him. Forever thankful for the gift of life, his gratitude ran deep.
Mark loved Sarah deeply. He was a shining example of how communication and respect can make a relationship glow with an astounding light. For all who knew and loved Mark, please hold his memory and actions in your hearts.
Calling hours will be held at Potter Funeral Home on Saturday, June 25, 2022 from 1:00-3:00pm, 456 Jackson St., Willimantic.
Windham Area Interfaith Ministries
No Freeze Shelter (WRNFHC)
P.O. Box 46, Willimantic CT 06226
Covenant Soup Kitchen
220 Valley Street, Willimantic CT 06226