IICRC's Unsung Hero - Mark Hansen
April 9, 2008
One of the classics of American literature is the 1960 Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird. In that wonderful story, readers are introduced to an amazing character, a lawyer by the name of Atticus Finch.
About Atticus, one reviewer wrote: “…a lawyer… descended from an old local family. A widower with a dry sense of humor, Atticus has instilled in his children his strong sense of morality and justice…With his strongly held convictions, wisdom, and empathy, Atticus functions as the novel’s moral backbone.”
Humor, morality, justice, conviction, wisdom, empathy.
In mid-February, the IICRC – in fact, the whole cleaning and restoration industry – suffered the loss of such a man. Unlike the fictional Atticus Finch, Mark Hansen was a real-life man and lawyer, who epitomized Finch’s virtues.
Our long-time friend and legal counsel, Mark died from a rare form of cancer in the prime of his life. No one was aware of the severity of his illness until just four days before he lost his battle. Throughout his illness and up until just a few days before he passed away he continued to work for and contribute to the IICRC.
According to former IICRC President Eric Rottmeister, one of Mark’s first tasks was to help transition the IICRC from a for-profit to a non-profit corporation. At the time he was a junior attorney with a large law firm in Portland, Oregon. Mark soon became indispensable to the IICRC and, when he opened his own firm, IICRC stayed with him and became one of his major clients. That was in the late ‘80s.
As the years passed and the IICRC expanded, the demands on Mark grew significantly, yet he never wavered in his commitment or ability to meet the needs of our diverse organization. Over the years he wrote numerous contracts and letters, made updates and changes to our general policy and procedures as well as those governing Instructors and Schools, oversaw shareholder purchases, sat on numerous committees as a non-voting member making constructive comments and recommendations as needed, and so much, much more. Mark attended every board and executive committee meeting to guide and help grow the organization. More recently, Mark became a significant contributor to the IICRC S500 Water Restoration Standard and S520 Mold Remediation Standard, both as our attorney and as an editor. Mark’s passion for accuracy and excellence is apparent in both of these industry-changing documents.
Mark wasn’t the “stereotypical” attorney. He wasn’t just concerned about the well being of our organization from the legal perspective. He was also interested in the people in and around IICRC: consumers, registrants, instructors, board members, and administrative staff. And just as other IICRC presidents before me, I counted on Mark to help guide me in my decisions. He was always a voice of reason. He was my counselor. He was my confidant. He was my friend.
We discussed many tough issues privately. He was my sounding board. And like the others before me, he had my complete trust and confidence in his balance, reason, wisdom and guidance.
Although most of you didn’t know Mark personally, I can guarantee that you have benefited from his insightful intelligence, hard work and dedication to the IICRC and its registrants. He touched the lives of literally thousands of people. He was a wonderful man; a kind and gracious man; a man who will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
It’s hard to accept the loss of such an amazing lawyer, our own Atticus Finch. But the choice is not ours to make.