Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Losing Mark Gerchman

I don't know how many in our immediate area knew Mark Gerchman, but he was a world-class lens designer whose glass has been used for so many of the images that we know and admire. At his recent funeral service Les Zellan spoke of the work and friendship they shared. I thought his words a powerful way for many of us to get a look into the masterful work Mark created as a lens designer for Cooke Optics.


from Les Zellan:

Eulogy for Mark - April 13, 2010

My name is Les and Mark was my best friend.

I first met Mark by phone in 1997. I wanted him to join me at Cooke Optics. Being conservative and mainly not expecting I could make a go of it, he politely turned me down.

A year later I sent him our first year’s financials and this time drove up to Keene to again make him the offer to join Coooke. I am sure that after consulting with his wife Lisa and his two girls and with their full support, he decided to follow his heart and he joined Cooke.

He told me at the time he would only stay a few years and then he intended to find a teaching job. Well a few years turned into 11 years. He so loved what he was doing at Cooke that I do not believe teaching ever entered his mind again. In fact he often said he loved what he did so much he was amazed he got paid for doing it.

Mark was Chief Optical Designer at Cooke. In the 117 year history of the Cooke brand only 3 other men held this title. He succeeded giants in the optics field – H. Dennis Taylor, Arthur Warmisham and Academy Award winner Gordon Cook. He distinguished himself in his position with his originality. During his years at Cooke Optics, he and his team designed the S4 Prime lenses, the CXX zoom lens, the new 5/i Prime lenses, and the new Panchro lenses, all for motion picture work. In addition, he designed the PS945 and XVa Triple Convertible lenses for large format still photography. Mark was honored with a Technical and Engineering Academy Award, Technical Emmy and CINEC Award from Germany for the optical design of the S4 lens. He even joked that winning the Academy award was an obituary changing event.

Mark was an easy person to like. Our relationship quickly grew from co-workers to friends to best of friends. We generally talked daily on a host of work and personal issues. His intellect and friendly personality made him not only a valuable member of Cooke but more importantly a invaluable friend.

There was much I admired about Mark.

Mark was not a halfway kind of guy, he always put 110% effort into everything, whether it was his design work, his golf game, his dart games in the Cooke lunch room, his music, or, his dedication to friends and love of his family.

Some people have many acquaintances and few real friends. I was always in awe of Mark because he was just the opposite; he had many real friends everywhere he went, not mere acquaintances. That is evident by the people here today as well as the people around the world that wish they could be here today.

When it came to his family Mark was extremely proud and he had every right to be. He and his wife Lisa raised two daughters, Liddy and Sarah. They have shown themselves to be strong, poised, courageous and graceful.

I wish I was more eloquent because my words just can’t express the loss I feel over Mark’s passing. He is loved and he will be missed.

St Bernard's Church
185 Main Street
Keene, NH 03431