It is with profound sorrow, love, and gratitude for a life well lived, that we remember Mark William Nelstrop. With autumn colours outside his window, Mark died peacefully on October 26, 2022.
Mark journeyed life with gentle steps, leaving beautiful imprints on all paths he traveled. He lived life fully, with a twinkle in his eyes and love in his heart. He was ever present on his journey- whether it be riding his bicycle or engaging in conversation. Mark was a masterful listener. You always felt cared for in his presence. His hugs instantly comforted you. Kindness was found in his smiles and goodness in his gestures. He had a trademark zen that he brought to doing the dishes, sweeping the floor to accepting his cancer journey with equanimity. Mark touched us all with his positive, gracious, and humble way of being in this world. We are blessed to have known him.
Mark was born on August 28, 1962 in Bowden, England. Growing up, he spent time in Nebraska and San Juan, Puerto Rico. He attended Ackworth Boarding School in England as a young boy. In Ontario, his family lived in Streetsville and Georgetown where he attended Georgetown District Highschool. Mark attended Western University and University of Ottawa where he enjoyed playing varsity volleyball and earned a teaching degree. The mountains called and Mark headed west. In BC, Mark met his life partner Anita. They married in 2000, exchanged canoe paddles and ventured forth together in their canoe, on their bikes and in their orange VW.
Mark is predeceased by his parents, Patrick and Marie (Reilly) Nelstrop. Mark is lovingly remembered by his wife Anita, daughter Bella, sister Clare (Andrew) of Guelph, Ontario and extended family and friends across Canada and around the globe.
Mark cherished the bonds with his Aunty Val and Uncle Con in England and with his in-laws Ching and Emmy in Canada. He was grateful for their generosity and kindness to welcome him into their homes over the course of his life.
Mark was an adventurer. He was a free spirit who enjoyed venturing on the road less travelled. He rarely had an itinerary but there was always a jar of peanut butter in his backpack. Mark set out to collect experiences around the globe, visiting over 30 different countries. In his beloved VW named Namaste, Mark traveled with Anita and Asiadog on many wonderful adventures from BC to Newfoundland. He loved the perspective from his bicycle, cycling across Canada, through Death Valley, Nepal, Tasmania and New Zealand’s South Island. Wanting to learn flamenco, he packed his guitar and headed to Seville. Mark was a believer of ‘don’t wait’ and committed to taking a ‘pause’ every 5 years to live ‘outside the box.’ He loved the beauty and wonder of the natural world. He took delight to tend the garden and to feed the birds. He wrote haikus on hikes. He trekked in the Himalayas and the Andes. He watched the sunrise on the summit of Mount Kinabalu. He enjoyed the sunsets over the Salish Sea. He ziplined in Costa Rica and slid down a volcano in Nicaragua. He skipped stones and enjoyed hot river baths in Iceland. He rode camels and climbed date palms in Morocco. He entered the World Bellyboarding Championships in Cornwall. Mark believed in play, treading gently and writing postcards home.
Mark was an exemplary educator, mentor and coach for over 25 years in the Richmond School District. His love for languages led him to teaching French. His love for sport landed him in the gym. His humour and kindness were his trademark qualities. He educated not only minds but also hearts. He loved his Raven family at McNeill Secondary School.
Mark’s brain tumour may have stolen his words, but he continued to educate us. He taught us about acceptance and humility- to be content and comfortable in the silence and the spaces. He showed us how we can continue to live fully even in the face of death. He modeled how to walk life’s journey with grace and gratitude. Along the way, he reminded us to hold one another close, to always say I love you and of course, to dance.
Mark was an amazing father. He cherished his time with his daughter Bella. With his little girl, he read her bedtime stories, told dad jokes and pulled her in the Chariot behind his bicycle. He enjoyed quiet walks in the Japanese Gardens, lively games of disc golf and building bonfires beneath starry nights on Mayne Island. In the Watershed, they ran the trails and he listened to her dreams. There was always a volleyball on our world travels, father and daughter peppering on sandy stretches of beach, or while waiting for buses. Mark delighted in coaching Bella’s school volley team team and cheering her on in club. He was her biggest fan. How lucky we are that he grew her up.
We are so thankful for all those who travelled this challenging journey with us.
To the doctors and nurses at BC Cancer, for providing good care and treatment.
To Dr. Riesling and Dr. Turnbull, for practicing medicine with mind and heart.
To Elizabeth at MAiD, for your compassion in honouring Mark’s wishes.
To Emily at KORU, for practicing holistic death care.
To the Raven Family, for your kindness and empathy.
To my Night Travellers, for not being afraid of the dark.
To our incredible village of friends and family, for holding our space with unconditional love.
In Mark’s memory, let us carry forward the light of goodness that he lit in us all. Let his memory be a blessing and a reminder to live wholeheartedly.
When you see the trees dancing, when a sunray finds your face, when a gentle breeze hugs your being, when tear drops shower down from the heavens, when you spot Alkaid in the night sky, when you hear the eagles cry, when a white swan greets you with open wings…
Take pause, with hand on heart, and know there is extraordinary beauty in the world.
Mark’s ashes will be returned to the Salish Sea this summer, where he loved to paddle his wedding canoe with his beloved BAM.
Our BAM Manifesto – Family Values to Guide Us On Life’s Journey was composed together on our last world travel in 2019. We dedicate this video with infinite love to the M in our BAM. We love you.
It is impossible to add more depth to the beauty of these words. Only to say, with a thankful heart for having been touched by Mark, “Only love remains”.
What a beautiful tribute to Mark, to you three as a family, and to the courage inside each of us to live life fully and with courage. Death is not a barrier to love, at least not the kind you were gifted with and created. Much love to you, the stars shine brighter.
Anita and Bella
What an amazing tribute to you all. Mark was certainly a true original and one who will live on on in the peace and joy he spread. I have two favourite moments of joy when I think of Mark. One was years ago walking towards him in Southridge Dr. As we got closer he opened his arms and then enveloped me in a hug full of such love and kindness it still resonates wit me today. The last is a few weeks before he left this space it was in the parking lot of my work and I just happened to see you guys and I ran out. As Mark saw me he smiled this huge beam of love and again opened his arms to envelope me with peace and strength. I am ever grateful for that group hug from you both.
Please know you are all in our hearts and we send you blessings always.
May love and kindness always triumph in the memory of those who have just gone ahead to wait.
Love Carolyn Bill Reah and Dawson Saunders -Soo
Such a beautiful beautiful tribute to Mark, Anita. His memory is one of my life’s great blessings. I’m holding you and Bella close in my heart and sending you love.
So beautiful and touching! Thank you Anita and Bella for sharing BAM’s amazing life story through your reflections, thoughtful words and authentic photos. It will continue to live on in all of our hearts, forever… xox
A wonderful tribute. BAM forever.
Mark’s beautiful generous spirit is not gone. It ripples outward in the multitude of people he helped, and lives forever beyond the veil. Lucky are those who learned from the wisdom of Mr. Mark Nelstrop. I am blessed to count myself among their number.
The BAM family manifesto video is a treasure to witness.Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to Mark, Anita and Bella’s life journey together. it is very evident that Mark has lived well and true and more authentically than most people can ever wish to live. His love will continue to be with you in every hug you give to others, in every smile you return, in every sun set and all the moments you will experience from now on. I am here for you Anita and Bella when you are ready to have some Island time – Much Love and Light for your immense loss and for your healing days moving forward.
Thank you Anita and Bella for sharing Mark’s life with us. This really explains how Mark made a profound impact on those who were lucky enough to have met him. You have an amazing family and great courage to carry on with your BAM manifesto. I’ll think of Mark when I’m cycling, on the water, in the mountains and watching shooting stars!