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Mark H.B. Williamson, 63, changed his residence for good to the only place better than Minnesota on September 13, 2023. And while it will be plenty crisp and bracing and you might need a jacket in Mark’s heaven, we are sure it won’t have the ice that he recently grew to hate so much.
Mark was a Minnesota boy, born in Truman on January 16, 1960 and raised there by his loving parents, Janice and Lowell Williamson. He was proud of his small-town upbringing and the sensible approach to life and its problems that came with it. And yes, Mark did walk to school every day, uphill in a snowstorm. More people in this world should have had that experience.
After graduating from Truman High School as the smartest kid but maybe not the kid with the best grades, Mark started college at his beloved U of M. Now that Sid Hartman is gone, no one loved Gopher Sports as much as Mark. He was well-versed in the glory years of Gopher football—long before he was even born—and was always sure that this was the year the Maroon and Gold would get back to the Rose Bowl. The annual frustration only honed his joy and optimism for the next season. PJ, please, please beat Michigan this year. SKI-U-MAH and Row the Boat. Mark was a Twins fan, too, and was exceptionally proud of his home team in 1987 and 1991.
After graduating in 1982 and a brief stint in graduate school, Mark left for the City that Never Sleeps—a long way from Truman—to attend Columbia Law School in New York City. Mark was always smart, thoughtful, and well-read and Columbia and its students suited him well. He made some of his friends for life—Ted and Kevin—in the law school class of 1987.
Minnesota was never far from Mark’s heart and he moved back to Minneapolis in 1987 to join Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly in its St. Paul office. He learned his craft there as a corporate attorney, able to take on any assignment, big or small, and furthering his pride in his work. Mark reveled in finding less than ideal drafting and typos in the drafts of agreements he received from the New York white-shoe firms he frequently worked with on the other side of a deal, saying to himself, “Yeah, we know a thing or two about the law business out here in the Northern Plains.” A series of jobs followed until Mark found the lawyer’s job that fit him best—his own law firm. Mark practiced solo as Mark Williamson, PLC, until his passing. He leaves behind a small but devoted group of clients who trusted him implicitly, valued his counsel, and depended on him completely. They miss him already.
Mark was much more than just a lawyer and an accomplished student. He married Lynn Bebeau, his partner and best client, in 2003 and together they lived the formerly known as YUPPIE lifestyle in the Twin Cities, traveling, enjoying meals cooked at home and at restaurants, engagements with friends, sporting events (Go Gophers-Win Twins!), art, local festivals and most everything else the Twin Cities area has to offer.
Henry and Ella arrived in 2004 as a package deal. It didn’t surprise any of us that a huge Twins fan like Mark would have twins of his own. Parenthood, school events, kids’ activities and sports, church trips, and everything that came with it were natural for Mark and Lynn. Mark loves Henry and Ella very much and those years of “full-time fatherhood” were precious to him. He is so proud of them—their accomplishments and the wonderful people they have become.
Mark was a voracious reader, turning the pages of hundreds of history books, bestsellers, the Atlantic, The New Yorker, and dozens of other scholarly publications. Only a week ago, he proudly reported that he is “almost finished” catching up on his magazines. If you ever read the book “The Accidental Tourist”—well, then you had something in common. If you liked it and wanted to gush about it, that commonality probably dried up fast. Similarly, Mark had a life long interest in a wide range of music and was delighted to provide suggestions as to what might be enjoyable to listen to if asked. He had the driest, funniest sense of humor you could ever hope to experience. He poked fun at himself and at lawyers in general, but be careful what you say about the Gophers’ chances next year.
I can’t believe we are at this point so soon—summing up Mark’s life after only 63 years. He’s too much and too complicated to put into an obituary. He was a proud curmudgeon, with a heart of gold and boundless optimism. He loved nothing more than to drive across the country to an obscure semi-historic location (have you seen his pictures of the world’s biggest ball of twine?) with sports talk radio blaring away. He loved his technology, but he was old-fashioned. He loved his solitude, but was also a people person. He was a fierce friend, undaunted by the passage of time, minor disagreements, or philosophical differences. He wanted and strived for the best of everything for Lynn, Henry and Ella—a good family life, love and comfort, the proper amount of encouragement, and an appreciation for all of the curiosities of life.
Mark is survived by his mother, Janice Williamson, wife Lynn Bebeau, children Ella Marie and Henry George Williamson, siblings Tracy (Al) Ratike, Kent Williamson, Derek Williamson, and Brook (Julie) Williamson, mother-in-law Muriel Bebeau, sister-in-law Michelle Bebeau (Mike McCortney), nieces, nephews, and many appreciative friends and clients.
He is preceded in death by his father, Lowell Williamson, and sister, Heather Williamson.
A memorial service will be held for Mark at 2:00 September 20 (visitation and refreshments after the service) at the Westminster Presbyterian Chapel at 1200 Marquette Ave. Minneapolis. Parking is available on site off of Alice Rainville Place.
The family would prefer donations, in lieu of flower, to Westminster Presbyterian Church, Families, Youth and Children Ministries, 1200 Marquette Ave. Minneapolis, MN