Mark Larry Morantes flew west into the sunset on his final flight Feb. 12, 2020. A proud father, he leaves behind the legacy of a man who lived life to the fullest. He worked hard, played hard, and shared a strong wit and kind heart with those he loved.
Many knew Mark during his younger years. After spending most of his youth in the Tri-Cities, Wash., and graduating from Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai, Calif., he spent some time “finding direction” in Seattle during the late '60s. Without a doubt, Mark marched to the beat of his own drum and didn’t hesitate to seek a world beyond the confines of a desk. After a short time in accounting, he changed direction and joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to become an electrician. As a proud union electrician, he met lifelong friends, traveled the country, and engaged in countless shenanigans. Later on, he followed in the footsteps of his own parents to become a business owner and serve his community. For more than 25 years, he operated his own electrical contracting business in Lyle, Wash.
It’s around Lyle where he met many amazing friends with whom he shared his love of kiteboarding, rafting, snowboarding, good food, great drinks, and live music. A lucky handful even had the joy of traveling with Mark, sharing his love for culture, fresh seafood, and sipping “two-lime” gin-and-tonics on the beach. With a keen sense for adventure, Mark never turned down an opportunity to push the limits and experience all he could from life — everything from skydiving, open desert motorcycle racing, Grand Canyon rafting expeditions, to the Panama Canal. He saw the world with a curiosity that never seemed to fade. Even when forced to take the helm of a sailboat, whose captain had become incapacitated while in challenging conditions crossing the Sea of Cortez, he did so with a steady hand and the confidence for which many of us knew him. He was a calm and reassuring leader in times when it mattered the most.
It was early in his electrical career when Mark fell in love with arguably one of his greatest passions, flying. An avid aviation enthusiast, he quickly took to traveling in his airplane and signing the union books for different electrical projects around the country. In doing so, it didn’t take long for him to acquire the skills and experience necessary for more advanced pilot certifications. When one examiner was reviewing his logbook for the cross-country flight requirements, he was astonished to see a trip to Jamaica already under Mark’s belt. He never shied away from telling about a lively flying adventure and it was common to see a distinct glimmer in his eyes when sharing those with others. In his later years, he would frequently reach out to friends and offer a flight to the Oregon coast for a beautiful day of flying and tasty seafood.
Mark’s bond of aviation was strongest with his son. He first took his son flying as an infant and later shared countless hours making model airplanes, made annual treks to the Reno Air Races and other airshows, and supported him throughout his own pursuits in aviation. He once told his son, “I can make you an electrician any day of the week, so for now you go out and pursue your own passion for aviation.” A crowning achievement was building an experimental airplane together and taking it to the High Sierra Fly-In last year, and later landing on the family property. Mark was his son’s number one fan and never hesitated to share stories and photos.
Whenever faced with adversity in his life, Mark would remain true and steadfast. He had a strong commitment to living life on his terms — with privacy, dignity, and the quality he defined.
I'll fly away, oh glory, I'll fly away When I die, Hallelujah, by and by I'll fly away
Mark is survived by his son, Dustin, and Dustin’s wife Dara; sister Gayle and her husband Dave; niece Lisa; nephew Ben and his wife Lindsey; and other close relatives from the Pacific Northwest to Texas. He is preceded in death by his father Herman and mother Frances.
Mark loved a good party, and we will honor him with nothing less. When weather allows and social distancing lifts, we will gather to celebrate his life over food and drink. For now, a Facebook memorial page is set up in his honor to share the good times we had with Mark and to pass along information regarding a future celebration. Stay tuned.
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