Counting the Months and Days…

“24 months and counting until my retirement,” declared Mark Sherman.  Most didn’t really believe that he was serious, although he began a count-down on the white board in his office.

Mark Sherman has called Futures his “home away from home” since December 15, 1980.  It was at Futures he met his wife of 37 years, Mary Anne.  In addition to his time working here at Futures, Mark contributed to his community by serving as the Bradford High School boys tennis team coach for 30 years and an additional 4 years as the girls’ tennis team coach.  He also served as the tennis coach for Team Pennsylvania for the Special Olympics World Games at Yale and Duke Universities and for more years than anyone can remember, was a softball coach for McKean County and Pennsylvania Special Olympics events.

“18 months and counting,” Mark tells all who will listen. Is he serious?  Many begin to wonder as Mark begins discussing his plans to play more golf (he loves to unwind with a round of golf or two) and travel more with his wife to some of their favorite destinations, such as Florida, the Outer Banks, and Mexico.  He also starts talking about spending more time fishing at Marilla Reservoir, especially with his fishing buddies Jay Furman and Jimmy Carlson (who he takes fishing almost every Sunday in the summer).

“12 months and counting, you wait and see.” says Mark.  Maybe it’s the pandemic talking, maybe not…but co-workers begin to take him seriously and start reminiscing about their years spent working with him.  “For a time, Mark would wear a red cardigan sweater with big holes in the elbows,” recalls co-worker Marcia Good.  “People would ask him if he couldn’t afford a new sweater.  We soon realized the sweater had been his fathers and he was wearing it for sentimental reasons.” 

“6 months and counting,” Mark would comment and point at his white board.  Some begin to believe it and former co-workers start reaching out with their “Sherman stories.”  Retired co-worker Rick Kennedy shared, “One-time, Mark came into work after taking an outdated antibiotic.  He started to blow up, like a blowfish.  So I drove him to the hospital and on the way there, I politely asked him, please don’t die in my car.  It made him laugh and over the years he would mention it every once in a while and we would both laugh all over again.”

“Take a look at the board,” grinned Mark on a cold January day.  April 4, 2022 (also his birthday) is written and circled.  “It’s official, I’m retiring.” 

There are many adjectives co-workers have used to describe Mark, but, caring is definitely the most widely used.  Dave Rinfrette summed up the thoughts of many of Mark’s co-workers when he said: “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mark for 35 of his 42 years at Futures. It would be hard to name all of the staff and individuals he has been a great friend to over the years. Mark has always been a dependable, dedicated employee. He not only managed the Work Center, he also helped out in many other ways. You might find him shoveling snow at 6:00am, spreading salt, loading a truck, and being the official COVID screener every morning for the past 2 years.  It is hard to have a conversation about Futures without Mark’s name coming up. He is one of a kind and will be missed by all when he retires.” 

Mark cared for his coworkers, however, his passion was the participants of Futures.  He interceded for participants on many issues, engaged with them about their personal needs, and advocated for them at every turn. No one took the needs and concerns of Futures’ participants to their heart as fervently as Mark.  “It has been a privilege and my biggest work accomplishment to have worked with many of our participants over the years”, said Mark when asked to comment. 

Congratulations Mark on 42 years of service to our participants.  You will be missed.