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Mark Sullivan Siegchrist

Died: October 21, 1998

Robert Taylor remembers:

I roomed with Mark Siegchrist for four years at Yale. Freshman year we shared a quad in Bingham with Jim Landwehr and Paul Wiedemann. Upper class years were spent in a double at Morse College.

It was clear from the very first day that Mark was extremely bright, but in a cheerful and positive way. He had come to Yale from Andover and was placed in a number of advanced classes, called directed studies as I recall. He excelled in all these while I struggled, especially in freshman year, but he was never arrogant about his intelligence. All four of us got along very well.

Mark was an excellent piano player and had a great love for Gilbert and Sullivan. He knew all the G&S operettas pretty much by heart and would quote them at length given the chance. He also loved games, especially bridge. My wife, Carol, (then my steady) is also an excellent bridge player, and they would take great delight in setting each other. They were never bridge partners, always opponents. It was more fun that way.

Mark chose initially to major in philosophy, but about halfway through switched to English. He told me at the time that he thought that philosophy would teach him about Ultimate Truth; but he became disillusioned when, in his opinion, he found no ultimate truth in that major.

After Yale, Mark got a Ph.D. in English at Penn and taught at Marquette, Agnes Scott, and later at Mueller College in San Diego. He wrote one book that is widely cited — Rough in Brutal Print: The Legal Sources of Browning’s Red Cotton Night-Cap Country — and of course a number of journal articles. But I think his real passion lay elsewhere.

Mark had great doubts about the existence of a loving, Christian God, but at the same time, he was very spiritual. When we met a few years after grad school, he was deeply into meditation, and that continued throughout the rest of his life. In San Diego, he became a massage therapist and led a Sufi (spiritual) dancing group. I think spiritual expression was his real love.

Mark died in October, 1998, of complications from HIV/AIDS. While at Yale Mark tried hard to have a serious relationship with various women, but it never worked out. At the time, of course, I had no clue why this was. I hope Mark found peace. I believe he did.