The Great Class of 1965

Thomas Edward Marks

Our Classmate And Friend


Arts Community Mourns Loss
Margaret Morton

May 08, 2003 -- The Loudoun musical community was in a state of shock Wednesday as it endeavored to come to grips with the death of one of the Loudoun Symphonys best-known and best-loved members, Tom Marks of Mount Gilead.

Marks was killed and his 16-year-old son Vincent was injured during a Tuesday morning car crash at the intersection of Loudoun Orchard Road and Rt. 704. Marks was driving the car. Vincent was taken to Loudoun Hospital Center where he was recovering from non-life-threatening injuries Wednesday.

Tributes began rolling in Wednesday, with stunned fellow musicians recalling Marks as a mentor, teacher and colleague, with a marvelous sense of humor.

The sense of loss to symphony members was deep. We are a very close-knit group, said Music Director Mark Allen McCoy. It will be a devastating blow, not just for the orchestra, which was his extended family but for his own family.

A sign of that closeness was the orchestras desire to continue its regular Wednesday night rehearsal. It will be tough, said one colleague Wednesday morning. The Loudoun Symphonys May 17 Beethoven and Bravura concert will be dedicated to Marks, McCoy said.

Its a time of great loss for us. Tom was all about making music for the orchestra and thats what were going to do tonight [Wednesday] to the best of our ability.

At the time of his death, Marks was principal second violinist with the symphony. His generosity and kindness to other players was legendary. Cindy Hollister was, with Marks, one of the original members of the Loudoun Symphony which played its first concert in March 1991. Today, Hollister is on a one-year absence from the symphony, but she recalled Marks as an individual who touched so many lives in so many ways.

Chief among them was his mentoring and teaching impact. Marks had a large private studio on Fort Evans Road in Leesburg where he taught violin.

A lot of orchestra members studied under him, said Hollister. He was such a positive man. Nobody ever came away from meeting him without feeling good.

Marks headed an extraordinarily talented family. His wife Lucky and he produced five sons, each one of whom is a professional musician and all of whom play or have played for the Loudoun Symphony. Many times the family would play at local weddings or other occasions as the Marks Quintet or Marks Quartet, depending on who was available. His sons were Jethro, violin and viola; Paolo, cello and instrument maker; David, viola; Theo,cello;and Vincent, violin.

Julien Schrenk remembered Marks as a friend and mentor. He took lessons from Marks at his Leesburg studio. He described Marks as a very patient and forgiving teacher. He could make an orchid out of a dandelion, Schrenk said, adding Marks always brought out the best in people. It will leave a big gap in the musical family of Loudoun, he said.

Schrenk, too, mourned for Marks family. I always called them the Von Trappe family of Loudoun. The whole family was an inspiration.

Michael Rohrer has also known Marks since the symphonys beginning. The pair served on the Artistic Committee that held auditions for new players and consulted with Music Director Mark Allen McCoy on the program each year.

For the orchestra, he was a lot of things, Rohrer said, praising Marks consummate musicianship. Groping for the right words, Rohrer said Tom was a presence. He was so enthusiastic about the music and the orchestra.

Of the decision to carry on with the regular weekly rehearsal, Rohrer said, We thought we should get together. After all, its one of our family thats gone.

Loudoun Symphony Executive Director Esperanza Alzona said Wednesday morning that her last meeting with Marks was last weekend when the symphony held its sponsors dinners and recital. He was just so upbeat and lively. Its nice to have had that last vision.

Another colleague remembered Marks great kindness and encouragement of people who wanted to play.

The world is a lesser place today than it was yesterday, she said.







As a musician and educator, Tom Marks changed the lives of countless friends, colleagues and students. A boundless love of adventure, crazy contagious humor and warm sensitivity were the hallmarks of this extraordinary personality who realized and lived so many dreams in his 59 years. The car accident that took his life as he was driving one of his sons to school Tuesday morning has left everyone stunned.

Born in Washington D.C., Tom and his family spent a lot of time abroad while he was growing up- his father traveled in association with his work in the UN. Years spent living in Athens exploring sunny Greek ruins with his sister, instilled in him a love for physical adventure and a sense of wonder that never left him. Later, living in Geneva he learned fluent French and skiied in the Alps; these passions also remained with him.

Tom graduated from Dartmouth College in 1965 with a degree in French language. He had studied violin from an early age and during his college years developed a love for playing chamber music. In 1969 he moved to Vancouver, Canada and got a job as a violist in the Vancouver Symphony. He met a Dutch girl named Lucky in a park in Vancouver- they were married in 1974.

They spent the next 12 years in Vancouver. Four sons, Jethro, Paolo, David, and Theo had been born when they moved to Tuscon, Arizona in 1984. In Tucson a fifth son, Vincent was born while Tom got a Masters in Speech Pathology at the University of Arizona and began recording and producing "Panorama Tapes", a series of audio cassettes full of stories, trivia and music. In 1987 the family moved to a beautiful country home outside Leesburg, where Tom happily split his time between giving violin lessons and teaching home-bound students for the Loudoun County school system. He was a violinist in the Maryland Symphony as well as a founding member of the Loudoun Symphony Orchestra and leader of the educational organisation, String Workshop. Tom performed often with his sons as the Marks Family Strings. Recently, he published a summary of his teaching methods, "The Disciplined Bow".

Everything he did, he did with a joy and energy that made others want to join in. This made him a wonderfully unique teacher, husband and father. His fun loving example made his children want to do everything with him, whether it was playing music, playing tennis, going on long adventures by bike, canoe or on foot, swimming with mask and snorkel, learning bizarre facts, imagining hypothetical situations or playing word games. His legacy will live on through his family and the many people who knew and were touched by him.