Mark has been a pillar of our community and a son of Butte county since he was a child playing in the mountains and rivers of his grandparents’ cabin in Magalia in the 1950’s. He grew up in Concord before heading to Chico State in the early 1970’s. There he forged lifelong friendships and married his true love Wendy. Mark was an amazing father to his children, Sarah and Travis, and his grandchildren Desmond and Oisín.
Mark was a legendary teacher, dedicating his life’s work to mentoring and teaching high school and college students. He began his career at De La Salle High School in the Bay Area and then moved to Paradise, where he raised his children and taught at Oroville High School and at Butte Community College. By the time he retired a tenured Professor of English, he had taught thousands of students over a span of 30 years to become powerful thinkers and writers, but also to see the strength and greatness in themselves.
Mark was a gentle giant. At 6’5”, he was literally larger than life (and everyone) in every room he entered - but he walked with such gentleness and grace through the world that he taught so many to center kindness and compassion in their daily lives. And he was funny; his humor and wit helped us find smiles and laughter, even in our darkest times.
Mark was also a talented musician and songwriter who loved playing music with many accomplished musicians and friends over the years. After traveling to Ireland, he fell in love with his Celtic roots and then founded the California Celtic band Ha’Penny Bridge, recording two albums of original songs.
Mark is survived by his wife Wendy McKinnon, his children Sarah and Travis McKinnon, his grandsons Desmond McKinnon Russell and Oisín McKinnon Russell, his siblings Jill Endicott, Matthew McKinnon, Anne Bone, and Jeff McKinnon, and his mother Janice McKinnon. The love he had for his family and dear friends is truly his enduring legacy. A celebration of his life will be held at a later date. Donations can be made in his memory to your favorite organization focused on peace, social justice, or the environment.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.neptune-society.com/location/chico-ca for the McKinnon family.