Mark McArthur '75

Mark McArthur, who entered Amherst in 1970 and graduated with the class of 1975, died October 24, 2004, in Chicago of chronic kidney disease. He was 53 and left behind his loving wife, Brett Robinson McArthur, whom he met during his year as an exchange student at Illinois Weslyan University in 1973.

Brett, who spoke of her husband’s passing in a telephone interview in early December, said that Mark lost a valiant struggle against nephritis, which he apparently contracted from an untreated strep infection years ago. He had undergone a kidney transplant in 1993, but his body eventually rejected the transplant, leading to years of dialysis treatments, three times a week for four hours at a time. His condition was compounded by diabetes, which led to the forced amputation of his left leg below the knee in May of this past year.

Despite it all, Brett said Mark’s death came as a shock. He had just returned home from a week-long hospital stay in late October, when she had to rush him back the very next day for what would be the last time. He was on the waiting list for a second transplant, but none was available. As their 17th wedding anniversary approached, Brett was struggling to contemplate life without the man she married on New Year’s Eve in 1987 and who had been a part of her life for more than 30 years. In cruel succession, this tragedy struck just three years after the couple lost their only child, Garrett, a corrections officer, in a fatal auto accident in Arizona.

Mark had been an employment counselor for the National Office of Program Development in Chicago, before his condition forced him into an early retirement in 1998. Brett worked for the Circuit Court of Cook County and retired in 2003. It was only after they retired from their jobs that the couple realized their dream of buying a house in Chicago, after a decade as apartment dwellers. Sadly, Mark’s condition was worsening at that point.

At Amherst, Mark was a history major, an interest that led him to become a devoted History Channel viewer later in life, his wife said. While Brett never had the opportunity to visit Amherst, she said she knew it from photographs and Mark’s friendship with Sam Boatner, a contemporary at Amherst as well as a Chicago high-school classmate. While Chicago was truly home, Mark was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., April 24, 1951. He was the oldest of nine children, and both of his parents predeceased him, his wife said.

A funeral service for Mark was held November 1, 2004, at St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago.

-- Jim Kennedy