Friends, Family Pay Final Tribute To Band Leader

SPOKANE — A farewell to one of Spokane’s best known musicians was held Monday when friends and family paid their respects for Mark Williams, a well known teacher and composer.

Williams taught music at schools not just in Spokane and Bellingham, but across the country. When he wasn’t playing music he was teaching music both in person and with instructional workbooks which are available in classrooms across the country. 

Mark Williams was killed two weeks ago and authorities say Mark’s son Brian stabbed him to death and seriously injured his wife Connie. Brian, 24, had been battling schizophrenia.

On Monday, however, as notes filled the air and music flowed through the church, what was present wasn’t how he died but how he lived and how his passion for music was present in everything he did.

“Five million children have learned to play clarinet or trumpet or flute out of accent on achievement over the last 11 years,” Composer John O’Reilly said.

But like all good men, his life was his family. 

His selfless attempt to save his ailing son from the dark world of mental illness cost mark his life,” Mark’s brother Grant said.

“He was a good and gentle soul, who cared so much for his wife and children that he was willing to sacrifice for them,” Mark’s sister Fay Trowbridge said.

Mark grew up in Spokane and taught at schools all over town for years, and played in concerts at Spokane’s best venues.  His music knowledge was unmatched.

Mark and his wife had recently moved to Bellingham to be closer to their children but the Spokane music scene was never far away. At his memorial Monday the British Brass Band he conducted for several years played a final song … a farewell to their leader.

“We love you mark, may you rest in peace,” Mark’s sister Heather Van Steenburgh said.

The Williams family asks that any donations be made to NARSAD, a charity dedicated to mental health research.

Mark’s son Brian, meanwhile faces a second-degree murder charge for his death in Whatcom County.