10/27/2010

Editor David Mark Dead of Leukemia at 42

David R. Mark, the longtime managing editor of Real Estate Alert, passed away on Saturday from complications from his second bout with leukemia.

During his 13-year tenure at the newsletter, Mark became well-regarded throughout the commercial real estate industry, drawing on his countless relationships with market professionals to provide readers with a constant flow of scoops on deals and dealmakers. He played a key role in expanding the publication's coverage and was the driving force behind many of its features, including a database of high-yield funds.

Mark, 42, was known for his relentless pursuit of news, his extraordinary productivity and an uncanny ability to recall facts and numbers. He was also a mentor to reporters on Real Estate Alert and its four sister newsletters, published by Harrison Scott Publications.

"Our newsroom has lost a great leader, and we have lost a great friend," said Tom Ferris, editor of Harrison Scott.

Leukemia was one of several serious illnesses that Mark had to deal with over the years. "We had deep admiration for the grace he showed facing the many medical hardships thrown his way in life," said Ferris. "David was dealt a bad hand, but he played it beautifully."

Mark was diagnosed with leukemia for the second time in August, after being in remission for more than eight years. He was hospitalized in September and at first maintained an almost full workload, filing numerous stories and firing off instructions to reporters by email. His office telephone calls were forwarded to his cell phone, and most of his sources had no idea he was in the hospital. However, serious complications unexpectedly arose over the past two weeks.

David Ross Mark was born on Jan. 14, 1968, in Suffern, N.Y. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1990. After working at the Asbury Park Press and the Home News Tribune, he joined Real Estate Alert in 1997 as a senior writer.

At the time, Real Estate Alert was evolving from its initial focus on the sale of distressed assets during the Resolution Trust Corp. era to broad-based coverage of the institutional sales market and related areas.

Mark was instrumental in that shift, both by digging up news about institutional trading and by creating features and statistical reports. In 1999, he was promoted to managing editor, becoming the newsletter's lead reporter and assuming more responsibilities for determining its coverage.

Mark played a central role in the establishment of the Deal Database, which tracks sales of all types of properties exceeding $25 million. He helped develop the newsletter's closely followed rankings of brokers and merger-and-acquisition advisors. He also pioneered the publication's coverage of public pension funds, tracking their equity commitments to real estate and ranking the largest systems that hold real estate investments.

Perhaps most impressive was his creation of the Fund Database. Mark became a leading expert on real estate funds and almost single-handedly amassed detailed information about active funds for an annual report every March. The 48-page special report in 2008, at the peak of the market, listed more than 500 vehicles.

Mark was also a powerful and popular presence in Harrison Scott's newsroom, with a large intellect and an outgoing personality to match. He had virtually total recall of names and numbers, and could recite the equity sizes of funds off the top of his head. He trained numerous reporters on Real Estate Alert, generously sharing his encyclopedic knowledge and seemingly limitless news tips.

While he was an expert on commercial real estate, his interests ranged far wider. He was a passionate baseball fan, capped by his allegiance to the Boston Red Sox. He was also a political junkie and a voracious reader of presidential biographies. To the amazement of his colleagues given his heavy workload, Mark wrote a political blog on the side that he updated regularly for a couple of years.

But for all of his interests, nothing came before his family. Mark was a devoted husband and father. He and his wife, Heather, were married for 13 years. They have two children, Alexander, 9, and Haille, 5.

A funeral service was held on Monday at Temple Shalom in Succasunna, N.J. He was buried at Mount Freedom Jewish Cemetery in Randolph, N.J.

Donations can be made in memory of David R. Mark to the Be The Match Foundation (www.marrow.org), which raises money and enlists volunteers for the National Marrow Donor Program.

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