“I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by”
Sea-Fever by John Masefield
John Mark Eddleston Leese, a loving husband, devoted father, proud grandfather and great friend, passed away at St. Michael’s Hospital in Silverdale, Washington on Monday January 22nd, 2024. He was 83 years old.
Known by his second name, Mark, he was a classic product of his generation; hardworking and hardplaying, humble and courteous, considerate and kind. Mark was a man of simple tastes and needs who liked nothing more than a hard hike, a decent sail, a cold Boddingtons with a pork pie and the company of his family and friends.
Born on May 31st, 1940 in Blackburn, Lancashire, England, Mark was the second of three children. He attended boarding school at the age of seven in the Lake District of Northern England, then the King’s School Chester in Cheshire, followed by H.M.S Conway Naval School in Plas Newydd, Anglesey, Wales, graduating at the age of 17. He joined Alfred Holt’s famous Blue Funnel Line in Liverpool as a cadet while also serving in the Royal Naval Reserve. Mark sailed the world with Blue Funnel for the next 15 years, circumnavigating the globe multiple times and ending his career at sea as a Third Officer.
Based ashore at Heswall on the Wirral Peninsula in Merseyside, Mark and his wife Sandra welcomed their son Martin Peter on June 19th, 1967 and in 1968 relocated with Blue Funnel to Kobe, Japan. Joanna Akiko joined the growing family on January 10th, 1970, the year they relocated to Hong Kong, where Mark joined the Swire Pacific-Overseas Containers Limited development team at Holt’s Wharf on the Kowloon Peninsula. With containerisation a new and growing innovation in the shipping world Mark was assigned to Modern Terminals Limited where he served as Managing Director until his retirement in 1997.
It was in Mark’s nature to continue to seek new adventures. In late 1997, he and Sandra moved to their long-term home on Eagle Harbor, Bainbridge Island, Washington. There he could continue his love of racing sailing boats, exploring the Salish Sea in his own boat “Double Haven” and hiking the mountains of the nearby Olympics and Cascade ranges.
For all of his life Mark was associated with the sea and those who loved the sea. He raced extensively in Asia for many years and was a lifetime member of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. He served as Commodore of the Eagle Harbor Yacht Club and was on the Bainbridge Island Harbor Commission where he was involved in the building of the new City Dock.
Mark was an active member of Round Table International and the Mission to Seafarers and was not only a student of, but also an active supporter of, Outward Bound, an organisation very near and dear to him. Mark was also highly involved with the General Stevedoring Council while with Modern Terminals and post-retirement. His work with the Council took him to harbours all over the world and made him many lifelong friends and acquaintances.
Throughout his life Mark was known as a gentleman who was generous with family, friends, and total strangers. He was the first to offer friends and neighbours a helping hand, could befriend anyone, and was never afraid to ask for help or advice from people he had just met, often making life-long friends in the process.
Mark is survived by Sandra, his beloved wife of almost 60 years; son, Martin Peter (Laura); daughter, Joanna Akiko (Adam); his grandchildren, Jack, Emma, Jonas, Taber, and Carter; and his sisters Caroline Roundhill and Susan Lyons.
A memorial service will be held at Cook Family Funeral Home on Bainbridge Island. A Memorial Fund has been established in Mark’s name with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in the UK.