Mark Simpfendorfer 1964 – 2009

Mark.jpgWords really don’t come close to describing how I feel right now. On Friday night this world lost a generous, caring man who I was privileged enough to call friend.

Mark Simpfendorfer left this world for a better place following a massive heart attack. He was a director and producer working in film, television and corporate video. His 3D IMAX movie, Red Crabs: Australia’s Christmas Island, is set for release later this year.

My head is full of thoughts that race through my mind, only stopping for an instant before continuing on their journey. Thoughts jump between what was, what could have been and what the future looks like without Mark. I really haven’t slept well over the past couple of nights as my mind keeps racing and trying to come to terms with what has happened. My heart aches for his family, especially his four children, for other friends and for the friendship I’ve lost.

Mark was there for some of my most memorable life experiences. We travelled half way across Australia together in 2003 as he videoed a team of cyclists I was leading on a marathon fund raising ride from Perth to Hobart. He later created a short documentary on the ride that was shown on Australian Christian Channel.

Earlier in 2003 we had travelled to India together. Mark was there to capture my ride from Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, to Delhi. It was an amazing experience for both of us. Neither of us really knew what to expect when we set off for India but we loved our time there and were more than happy to return two years later with a small team of Aussie cyclists. We were talking about returning next year around the time of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

The last time I saw Mark was at our new home just a couple of weeks ago. He dropped in to capture some video for a project he was completing and we shared a Limca, the lemon lime drink that we enjoyed so much in India. Several months ago Pauline had found a shop nearby that imports Limca from India so when I knew that Mark was to visit I made sure there was some ice cold Limca in the fridge.

Mark was also a major part of one of an extremely significant day for Pauline and me. He agreed to video our wedding back in December 1992. The resulting video, as expected, was spectacular.

Even though he’d been through some deep waters in recent years, Mark always stayed upbeat and optimistic. In many ways things were looking up for him and he had such great plans for the future.

Mark’s legacy will live on in his remarkable children.

He taught me a lot about life through what he said and especially the way he lived. I know that I certainly won’t be the only one who will miss Mark. He was a great friend and I look forward to catching up with him when my time comes to leave this life.

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About the author

Rodney Olsen

Rodney is a husband, father, cyclist, blogger and podcaster from Perth Western Australia.

He previously worked in radio for about 25 years but these days he spends his time at Compassion Australia, working towards releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.

The views he expresses here are his own.

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  • Rodney, I feel so sad by the death of your good friend. I remember so well your trip to India and knew you were in good company. It’s so evident you two had a strong bond. Offering up prayers for you and his family and friends.

  • Rodney. You have summed Mark up very well. I have had the pleasure of knowing him for ten years and he was always a very generous and selfless man. He assisted with several TV recordings for Metro Church recently and I know he was producing Riverview’s programs as well.
    The christian community of Perth have lost one very talented and gifted man.

  • Oh my goodness. This is a shock and a sad loss (as you say) for the whole world. My thoughts and prayers are with all those who knew Mark. His death is a great loss, all the more confronting because it was so sudden and unexpected. It gives us all an opportunity to reflect in silence upon the “cure of the disease of life” – and know that we are loved and held in God’s hand. Christians can approach death with a different sense: but it is still a time to reflect on grief and peace.

  • I was speechless when i heard the news, i was on that ride in 2003 and have great memories of Mark and his amazing work. He was an awesome man. Will be greatly missed but so many. Thanks Rodney for what you wrote about Mark, Very Awesome.

  • I was very saddenned to have heard this news and it came to my attention via the news paper. I remember the Simfendorfer family from many years ago, the early 1970s. They lived just a street away from us, we went to the same school. My mother new Mrs Simfendorfer and she was our girl guide leader, bless her.
    Such a lovely family very genereous caring and community minded.
    The saying only to good die young is so true.

  • Thank you for shedding some light through your window on Mark’s life. I had the privilege of making Mark’s acquaintance when he came to L.A in 2008 to complete the post-production work for the IMAX promo piece on Red Crabs 3D. His up-beat and thoughtful personality is what was immediately (and refreshingly) evident. Not surprising then to hear that he lived life within the framework of a greater purpose. “Well done, Mark!” My prayers go out to his friends and family in their great loss.

  • Mark was grace personified. Daniel, your “well done, Mark” is more apt than you can imagine. Right now, I have no doubt that Mark is hearing those exact words from his Saviour.

    Mark had a significant impact on the course of my life and his memory will always be honoured in my house.

  • From my family to yours my sincerest sympathy.
    I grew up with Mark and have only just recently met up with him via facebook and gotten to know him again, what a wonderful man full of inspiration. My sister Daniele and I chatted about Mark several times in recent months going over the things we used to do as kids together, Daniele again is in shock at the loss of Mark and sends her sincerest wishes to your family.
    Mark you will not be forgotten.

  • That’s a wrap folks. For those that could not make it to farewell Mark it was a an excellent service mostly arranged by his children. This church was an important part of Mark’s life and where he was married to Veronica in 1987.

    The church was full with at least 200 guests and parking was scarce. His coffin was carried in by six pallbearers and greeted by ten girls from the Wanneroo Lacrosse Club who created a salute with their racquets. The ceremony was officiated by Pastor Kevin Helbig.

    The first eulogy was by Mark’s friend Rodney Olsen who started by asking if he could start yet because he was waiting for Mark to say “Rolling”. He spoke of his friendship with Mark and in particular when they were in India and Mark was referred to as Mr Mark because Simpfendorfer was far too hard to say. Apparently some Indians thought he looked very much like Shane Warne at the time and he gained that nickname too.

    The next eulogy was from Jemma and Mikeal. Jemma spoke of how when she needed to know something or made a mistake, her dad would show her how to find the solution for herself rather than giving her the easy answer.
    Mikeal was very well spoken and explained how he had written his eulogy then deleted and started over several times. He likened it to his dad’s video editing where Mark would spend a week on something then call it crap and start all over again. His regret is that when he has children he will only be able to tell them about memories of his father.
    I have never met Mikeal before but I can see that he is a creative young man and Mark’s creative talents will live on through him.

    A pastor read from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 which explains how those who have died with Jesus will rise from their graves when Christ returns.

    Pastor Helbig echoed Mikeals words and said “gone too soon” but his legacy will live on through his four lovely mature children.

    At the conclusion of the service the immediate family gathered around the coffin to bid farewell. All of the guests formed a guard of honour with the Lacrosse girls raising their racquets at the roadside as the hearse headed off for a private cremation.

    The members of the church did a remarkable job of providing refreshments for the guests to chat and celebrate the life of a man who we all have had the privilege of sharing life with.

    I pray for strength and an overwhelming peace for his family, for Veronica and Nicholas, Jemma, Rebekkah and Mikeal at this time.

  • Further to my comments on Mark’s funeral, I forgot to mention there was a computer with a slideshow of some classic shots of Mark.

    On a table at the back there was momentos of his life. A scout blanket with badges on it, certificates and trophies, plastic Red Crabs which had to do with the current project he was working on, and a very well presented scrapbook album, which I believe was given to him on his 40th Birthday. It was very well done and highlighted milestones in Mark’s life particularly the births of the children.
    There was also a basketball signed by the players of the Wildcats when he did work for them around 1999/2000.

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