Mark Dean LaVanture, 68, passed away on Friday evening, October 8, 2021. He was born on November 5, 1952 to his beloved parents, Dean and Mary LaVanture in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Mark battled with Covid-19 for just over 8 weeks, spending the last 7 weeks of his life at Spectrum Health Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph, Michigan. Other than lung damage from the disease, his organs remained healthy until 4 days prior to his death when his kidneys began to fail.
Character Sketch: Mark was the epitome of his wife’s dreams. He was a family man - faithful, hard-working, committed, steady, and strong, with a heart of true blue. He was analytical, spiritual, affirming, romantic, and helpful, with a charming sense of mischievous intrigue. Every day was an adventure because of his fun-loving nature and easy-going style which his wife attributes to his Italian, French and Swiss descent and his relationship with God. Whether he was weeding in the garden or behind the wheel of a car, he wasn’t a man of big conversations but was a good listener, often sharing what was in his heart through music. Music filled his home and also his moments of discouragement. He primarily played guitar, but from time-to-time would play his mandolin, banjo, and even the violin, and could regularly be heard singing in the shower! He would sing with his guitar at church or occasionally with friends, but his favorite musical moments were making music with his children or his brother Brad (all very talented), or sitting on the porch playing gospel and love songs for his adoring wife Patricia, whom he married in 1984. As a couple, they were frequently seen affectionately holding hands and fell deeper and deeper in love during their 37 years of living and working together. His love for her was relentless. She was so drawn and attracted to him that she could not take her eyes off of him, even after he took his last breath. He was adored by his family, his children, and his grandchildren who endearingly called him GrandPapa and Papa. It was his ultimate delight to be home with his family.
Education: Mark’s earlier years of schooling took place in southwest Philadelphia at T.B. Reed Elementary School (grades 1-6), Tilten Jr. High School (grades 7-8), then John Bartram High School (grades 9-10). His family then moved to Glenolden, Pennsylvania where he attended Interboro High School for grades 11-12. He earned his degree in Chemistry from Mansfield University in upstate Pennsylvania, where he also developed a love for pottery-making. To the end of his life he was extremely committed to ongoing education and professional development, through books in his extensive library as well as online resources, trade journals, publications, and seminars.
Work Experience: From 1978-1984, Mark was employed by Mobil Oil, Chemical Division in Virginia as Analytical Chemist and Technical Support, then transferred to Chicago in Commercial Development and Sales. During this time, he was awarded three United States patents, in addition to letters of commendation for excellence. During his last year at Mobil, he felt a growing burden to get involved with something that could be more helpful to people in a practical way that aligned with his interest in health and nutrition. Stepping out in faith and venturing into the world of non-profits, he moved to Loveland, Colorado in the foothills of the Rockies to work at Eden Valley Institute of Wellness where he served from 1984-1992 as the Health Food Store Manager, Education Director, and then as the first Director of their new Lifestyle Center where he was privileged to bring his mother for one of their first programs. He spent the last 29 years of his life from 1992-2021 pouring his heart and soul into a ministry he truly believed in – Oak Haven/Country Life Natural Foods in Michigan, serving 18 of those years as president. It was here, as well as at Eden Valley and across the country, that Mark and his wife spent countless hours, often with their children, being of service to communities through extensive health education and cooking schools. In his “spare” time he served on numerous other boards of directors as well as his local church. Before his untimely death, Mark was working to lighten his load from so many responsibilities to spend more time with family, friends, and neighbors.
Surviving Family: Mark Dean LaVanture is survived by his loving wife Patricia LaVanture; parents Dean and Mary LaVanture (both in their 90’s); children Dana LaVanture, Sarah Hug, Rebecca Hernandez, and John LaVanture; sons-in-law Brody Hug and Henry Hernandez; daughter-in-law Donna LaVanture; five precious grandchildren Jared, Lexie and Axel Hug and Judah and Risi Hernandez; sister Karyn LaVanture; brother Brad LaVanture; sisters-in-law Sandy LaVanture and Linda Ronjak; brothers-in-law Michael Junge, Mark Junge, and Gary Ronjak; as well as beloved aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, their spouses, and children.
Saturday, October 30, 4:00 PM ET
Village Seventh-day Adventist Church
635 St. Joseph Ave.
Berrien Springs, MI 49103
Light refreshments will be served following the service.
For those not able to attend in person, the service will be live-streamed and recorded for later viewing at:
Burial will be private.
Those wishing to leave a message of condolence to the LaVanture family may do so at:
P.O. Box 461
South Haven, MI 49090