Above: Mark Gee and the author pose with a newly planted maple tree in front of Eldredge School in 2016. Gee was a member of the EG Tree Council, one of his many volunteer efforts.
Editor’s note: Mark Gee died Thursday. You can read his obituary HERE.
I first met Mark Gee in front of the East Greenwich Free Library in 2008. He introduced himself and told me he was running for the East Greenwich Fire District Commission. (The EG Fire District was a separate entity until 2014, when it was folded into the town.) Mark was doing something Fire District commissioner candidates did not do – canvass. Sometimes, I think that was his favorite part about being an elected official, meeting and talking to residents.
He won that election, then went on to run for Town Council in 2010. Won that one too. He served on both the Fire District board and the Town Council until the district became part of the town. Then he decided to run for the open state Senate Dist. 35 seat. Which he won and occupied from 2014 to 2018.
That was Mark all over – a man on the move.
He campaigned for Town Council by getting on his bike and riding through each neighborhood. He told this reporter (working for my02818 at the time) that he was “having a gas.”
As garrulous as he was, Mark enjoyed being unorthodox and prided himself on speaking his mind. Once, during his tenure on the state Senate, he spoke at a hearing on a state economic development plan called Rhode Map RI that had gotten in the crosshairs of conservatives. He started speaking in Russian, acting the part of a communist apparatchik, saying Rhode Map was like the central planning used in the USSR (watch a video of his comment, courtesy of Bob Plain, HERE). Years in the making, Rhode Map died soon after that.
Another memorable moment came a couple years earlier, when Mark arrived for a Town Council meeting with a dead skunk in tow. He was mad the town hadn’t picked up the road kill so he delivered it to former Public Works Director Joe Duarte. He returned it to his truck after making his point (the truck with a triceratops as a hood ornament).
His hard work and commitment to the town were hard to match.
“He was a dedicated council person,” recalled Bill Sequino, longtime town manager. “He did his own thing, he did it his way, and he was concerned about the Town of East Greenwich.”
Bob Houghtaling noted his strong involvement with Citizens Who Care over the years.
“He was a very, very consistent member of the group. Sometimes he would bring his kids to the meetings. It was always evident what a good dad he was,” Houghtaling said. “Both he and [Mark’s wife] Dana both loved East Greenwich and have both been involved in so many facets of it. A family with a long history of service and commitment.”
Michael Isaacs was Town Council president during Mark’s years on the panel.
“I knew Mark as a good friend and as a colleague in government and politics,” said Isaacs. “Mark was always sincere, persistent, interesting and personable, honest and straightforward in his personal life and as a public servant. I am honored to have known him and worked with him. Mindy and I will always have fond memories of Mark.”
Current Town Council President Mark Schwager said he met Mark just a few weeks after the Gees had arrived in town – volunteering, naturally. “We were both judges for EG high school seniors presenting their senior projects,” Schwager recalled.
“Mark jumped right into the East Greenwich community and never stopped. He was a community volunteer, East Greenwich booster and local elective official, known to campaign by bicycle. Mark seemed to be present at just about every town event and was eager to talk about all things East Greenwich. My condolences to Dana and the entire Gee family.”
I will remember Mark for his willingness to get involved – he threw himself into this community – for his easy smile, and for always returning my phone calls. Godspeed, Mark.
A graveside service of burial with Military Honors will be held at the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Exeter, on July 16, 2022, at 11:30 a.m. A reception will follow the service at the Gee Residence, 99 Middle Road, East Greenwich.
Good men are hard to find. Mark Gee was a Good Man. May he finally have peace.
Our condolences to his family.
Bruce & Elaine
Great piece and awesome to read about Mark and his dedication. Love the video! That’s a must watch. Love to Dana, Zing, Hope and Griffin
Mark was such a dedicated member of the East Greenwich community and an eager participant in all things. What I will always remember about him is that he was truly a gentleman in all matters.
I love the human interest stories like this one. Keep it up!
Aw, thanks, Sis!
Godspeed Uncle Mark! A thank you so very much for this wonderful article. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to spend time with Uncle Mark and count that as a heavy loss. My love goes out to Dana and all of Mark’s children as they carry on with Mark’s love and memories in their hearts.