With great sadness we announce the passing of Mark Rollins on June 30, 2017. Mark was the remarkable son of Paul and Claire Rollins and the inspirational brother to Paul, Jr., Peter, John and Mary Beth. He was the loving brother-in-law to Lisa Rollins, Dana Rollins and Charlie Bletsas and “adopted” son of Barbara Gardner. And he was the very doting and extremely proud uncle of Eli and Wyatt Rollins, Samantha and Jack Rollins, and Claire and JB Bletsas. He will be missed sorely.
Mark was born in Louisville, grew up in Chicago and went to school in Cambridge, MA and Palo Alto, CA. He went on to live in New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco. He spent a summer in Alaska, a year in Peru, and weeks all over the world. But New York City was always home to his heart. Mark studied at the finest schools in the country, built an impressive career on Wall Street, and followed his heart in the .com and music industries. He climbed mountains (literally) and rode his bike across the country (for real). He ran. And he ran. He loved to run. He ran marathons, 10k’s, 5k’s. He ran for fun, he ran for sport, he ran for life. He loved running in Central Park. He so loved that park. He loved music: live, recorded, new, old, loud or subdued, as long as it was great. He loved good food and he loved sweets even more (chocolate!). He so loved a great bottle of wine. And he loved sharing all of these with friends. And family. He loved his friends and family. Until the illness took that all that away.
Let us remember before the illness took all that away. Let us remember the love we all shared with him. Let us remember that he took his life to save his heart. To save himself and us from the pain. Let us celebrate his courage and his strength. Let us love him always without judgement. Let us remember the great memories with a song to accompany them. Now the illness has ceased and he is full of more love than ever. Keep your eyes, ears and hearts open - he is there. In the words of Lou Reed, one of Mark’s favorite musicians, he is now our “satellite of love”.
Amongst his many assets, Mark possessed a fierce competitive streak. But eventually he came to know the only foe he couldn’t conquer: bipolar disorder. If one should doubt the strength and cruelty of this mental illness, pause for a moment to think about what a formidable competitor Mark would have been in this battle. He fought with all his strength to overcome it, control it, beat it. Ultimately, he could not. That represents no weakness on his part, rather it represents the insidiousness of the disease he was facing. We are humbled by his efforts. We take him at his word: “I’ve tried, I really have.”
So many have said that Mark was an inspiration. Let him keep inspiring but now in a different way: this time to change the discourse on bipolar disorder. Let him inspire us to learn, to think, to talk, to care about bipolar disorder and about mental illness more generally. Let us each make a donation, give an hour, help someone in need, read a book or change a mind in the fight to remove the stigma. Mark would have liked that and would have joined that battle if he were able.
If you wish to express your condolences by making a gift, the family of Mark Rollins encourages you to donate to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Your contributions to this organization will help change the national discourse, the public policy and the individual lives of those struggling as Mark did.
Thank you for loving Mark. Thank you for considering a donation and taking up the charge to fight the stigma of bipolar disorder in his memory.