Marcus Eugene Carlson, 72, of Kalispell, died January 21, 2022 in Phoenix following a double lung transplant due to IPF. He passed away peacefully and surrounded by the love of his family.
Marc was born in Rockford, Illinois on November 27, 1949, to Donald and Betty Carlson. As a young man, he enjoyed scouting, especially camping and canoe trips in Wisconsin and the waters bordering Minnesota. He and his family were active members of the Salem Lutheran Church, where he was confirmed. Her family went on a summer vacation together, visiting many parts of the country. Marc graduated from Rockford East High School in 1967, then earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Northern Illinois University in 1973.
In the summer of 1969, while working at the Chicle Gum Factory, Marc met the love of his life, Jeanne Benkovich, of Roscoe, Illinois. After a few years of dating at a distance while attending different universities, they were married on August 18, 1973, in Rockton, Illinois. Marc and Jeanne have been married for 48 years! They made their first big move from Rockford in 1975 to attend graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. Marc completed his studies there and obtained a master’s degree in school psychology. While in graduate school, Marc made lifelong friends and learned the importance of building community. After graduating in 1977, Marc jumped on the train heading west for a job interview as a school psychologist in Kalispell. He got the job! He worked in School District 5 for 34 years and retired in 2011. Throughout his career, he has worked with children of all ages and abilities, dedicating himself to building positive and respectful relationships with them. On behalf of the District 5 teaching staff, Marc served as the primary spokesperson for the Kalispell Education Association bargaining team for many years.
Once in Montana, Marc and Jeanne began their great western adventure filled with family, friends, community and beautiful Montana scenery. In time they had four children, Ture, Evan, Eric and Annie, whom they raised in their home on the River Flathead in the beautiful farming region of Creston, near Kalispell. Marc has shared his enthusiasm and appreciation for nature and the outdoors with his children through hiking, hunting, downhill skiing, cross country skiing and picnicking with them over the years. Some of the family’s favorite hiking spots were in Jewel Basin, Glacier Park, and the Bob Marshall Wilderness area. When Ture and Evan wanted to learn downhill skiing, he thought he would learn too! Through a course at Flathead Valley Community College, he learned to ski, developing a passion for life. He also skied with Eric and Annie and spent many fun days together. In addition to skiing with his own family, he has taught ski lessons with the Kalispell Ski Club, the DREAM adaptive ski program and Special Olympics on Big Mountain in Whitefish. Marc was a ski coach for special education students at Kalispell Middle School for many years, celebrating their achievements in skiing culminating each year with the Special Olympics Winter Games on the mountain.
After retirement, Marc and Jeanne enjoyed traveling to visit their adult children, near and far. Marc loved his family. He was a quiet, intelligent man who often expressed his wisdom with a witty, dry sense of humor. He enjoyed spending time with his colleagues and friends, having fun and laughing a lot. As a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan, Marc was so happy when the team won the World Series Championship in 2016.
Marc and Jeanne were founding members of Northridge Lutheran Church and valued their faith and relationship with their church family. Marc actively participated in his journey of faith. He was admired for his listening ear and thoughtful, thoughtful speech, holding his comments to meaningful things. The words were very important and he chose them wisely.
During Marc’s final years, he and his family experienced an outpouring of generosity and love from their extended Carlson and Benkovich families, friends, neighbors, family at the Lutheran Church of Northridge and the Flathead community. The family would like to sincerely thank everyone who helped them travel to Phoenix for Marc’s lung transplant, who looked after their home and garden while they were away, who brought and cooked nutritious food for them and who supported Marc and his family with thoughts and prayers. The love and support has been overwhelming and the family is so grateful. The family would also like to thank Marc’s medical team at Rocky Mountain Heart and Lung in Kalispell and the medical team at Norton Thoracic Institute in Phoenix for their excellent, knowledgeable and compassionate care of Marc and our family.
Marc is survived by his wife Jeanne (Kalispell); children Ture (partner Lauren Hopley, Melbourne, Australia), Evan (partner Alex Chavez, Oxnard, CA), Eric (wife Jessi Mullowney and daughter Retta, Butte) and Annie (Kalispell); his sisters Gwen Bildahl (husband Richard, Rockford) and Donna Welden (Gallatin, Tennessee); niece Carrie Summers and family (Rockford), nephew Brian Shimaitis (wife Suzanne and family, Gallatin) and in-laws, niece and nephews of the Benkovich family.
A memorial service will be held at Northridge Lutheran Church in Kalispell on June 28 at 11 a.m. when the sun is warm and the grass is green. A private family burial of Marc’s ashes will take place at another time.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts in Marc’s name can be sent, if desired, to Northridge Lutheran Church, DREAM Program or Kalispell Ski Club.