John Mark Alley died peacefully at his home while taking an afternoon nap and watching Bonanza with his beloved wife of 49 years, Virginia, in the recliner next to him on Friday, December 11, 2020. Mark was 89 years and 22 days old having lived 32,528 days at the time of his death. He was a storyteller, keeper of history, artist, singer of songs, and builder who invented, and reinvented solutions to problems, the way forward despite difficulty, and himself.
Mark was born on November 20, 1931 to William (Bill) and Katherine Alley of Rose Hill. Mark was the 4th of 9 surviving children and relished the lessons of hard work, persistence, and simple beauty of farm life amid the pain and difficulty.
Mark had many passions in life, none of which ever made him a dime, but all of which proved invaluable. In one season of his life, it was his dairy herd. In his later years, he drew pictures (from memory, but also from his collection of photos) of his most prized herd members that he had to sell in order to say yes to the Korean War. He served for 2 years, ultimately in Military Intelligence as a Photo Interpreter, stateside, from 1951-52. After the war, he worked at Derby Refinery Company and married Sandra Dix in 1958 while living in Douglass, KS. Mark and Sandra had four children, Lisa, Brent, Brian, and Stacy. In 1971, he married Virginia (Moon) Jenkins and became dad to Kristen, Kevin, and Kenton where they lived in Augusta. Twins Amy and Ashlee were added to the Alley Bunch. Mark's passion for architecture resulted in him designing, building, or renovating all of the homes in which his family would live. His most ambitious build was a 30,000 square foot museum that he established in Drexel, MO between 1997-2014. The Frontier Military Museum included memorabilia from every war fought on American soil since the Revolutionary War, a display honoring his Native American heritage, and a mural memorializing September 11, 2001 entitled, "The Day America Cried." The museum represented another passion of bearing witness and telling stories of ordinary people who fought for their cause, uncertain of victory, but willing to pay the ultimate price, nonetheless. As part of that, he helped establish the Border War Network of historians in Eastern Kansas/Western Missouri. In his quest to tell the stories of the ordinary soldier, he also sought to identify the names of those who often remained nameless. His research in genealogy for his family and in military history revealed details long forgotten by time. Mark was a man of deep and abiding faith and a student of the bible. He taught Sunday School even into his 80's (and even when he wasn't THE teacher) and especially loved the genealogies and geography of the bible.
Mark is survived by Virginia, children Lisa, Kristen (Mike), Brent, Kevin (Lisa), Kenton (Alison), Brian, Stacy, Amy (Brett), and Ashlee (Todd); grandchildren Megan (Brian), Clayton, Kayla, Conner, Samantha, Georgia, Savannah, Ramsey, Paxton, and Brady, and honorary grandchildren Josh (Charlie) and Jessi (Alex) and great grandson, Theo; siblings Wilma (who died a day later), Bill (Ramona), Shirley (Jack), Elaine (Jeff), Marion (Kay), Gary, Sondra (Vernon), and Don (Carolyn); dozens of nieces and nephews and their families, and a multitude of friends. He is preceded in death by brother, Ronald, and great grandson, Ezekiel.
Mark's life will be honored in a private funeral held at Three Wooden Crosses Cowboy Church in Augusta, KS on Thursday, December 17, 2020. The service will be livestreamed on 3WC's Facebook page at 10:30 a.m. He will be laid to rest with military honors in Elmwood Cemetery in Augusta. The family looks forward to hosting a memorial celebration of Mark's life open to the community in Summer 2021. Memorial donations may be made to 3 Wooden Crosses Cowboy Church Tractor Fund P. O. Box 533 Augusta, KS 67010. Condolences for Mark may be made at headleyfuneralchapel.com.
Published on December 15, 2020