July 25, 2001 – Mark Marin, headmaster for the last 22 years at Antilles School, died Wednesday afternoon at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami after losing consciousness at his St. Thomas home Tuesday night.
According to family friends, Marin's son found him unconscious in the bedroom of his Caret Bay home. He reportedly had fallen earlier in the day and hit his head, and had then gone to rest.
He was taken to Roy L. Schneider Hospital and from there was transported by air ambulance Wednesday morning to Miami, where he died around 4 p.m. without having regained consciousness.
Elliott "Mac" Davis, president of the Antilles board of trustees, said it was his understanding that Marin was at home Tuesday night with his teen-age son, Luke, and was getting ready to prepare dinner for the two of them when he left the kitchen. His son later found him unconscious and summoned help. At Schneider Hospital, "they did a cat scan and found internal bleeding on both sides of the head," Davis said, suggesting a stroke or other brain trauma.
Marin's wife, Jackie, accompanied him to Florida.
Word of his death spread quickly through St. Thomas late Wednesday afternoon. At an emergency meeting of the Antilles board in the evening, trustees were in shock.
"Mark was at the absolute zenith of his career," Davis said, noting that they had been close friends for 17 years. "He had brought the school to heights that neither he nor I ever envisioned. He was proud beyond description of the work he had done and the achievements he had accomplished in educating young minds and producing the future leaders for our community."
The two Antilles administrators who worked most closely with Marin over the years were both off island. Polly Watts, head of the Lower School for the last 21 years, is vacationing in Europe. Kaye Knoepfel, who retired as Middle and Upper School head in the spring after 20 years working with Marin, was expected to arrive back on St. Thomas on Thursday.
Marin, a native of Michigan, was appointed headmaster in 1979 after having held administrative positions with Sts. Peter and Paul High School on St. Thomas and Aquinas College in Michigan. He received his bachelor's degree from Aquinas in 1971 and his master's from Columbia University two years later.
Under his direction, Antilles School grew in enrollment, academic achievement, physical plant, community outreach and endowment.
This past school year, Antilles won both the Science Bowl and the Quiz Bowl — reclaiming the Quiz Bowl title from archrival All Saints Cathedral School for the first time in eight years.
In 1999, the school embarked on an ambitious $6 million "Imagine the Possibilities" capital campaign to raise funds for new buildings and to create a $2 million endowment for financial aid and faculty enrichment in order to keep up with growing enrollment. The Henry L. Kimelman Library, including a computer center, was dedicated in February. In June, formal groundbreaking was held for the Knight Center, which will house a gymnasium, classrooms and other sports facilities. On the drawing board is a new auditorium, theater and fine arts complex.
Despite the private, non-parochial school's former reputation as an elitist "continental" institution, its enrollment demographics have changed in recent years to reflect greater racial, ethnic and economic diversity. Today, the student body is made up equally of white and non-white students, and the school awarded more than $700,000 in financial aid for the 2000-2001 school year. "It meant a lot to Mark to have that happen," Antilles development director Joan Amerling said Wednesday night.
The school, located on a 30-acre campus in Frenchman's Bay, has an enrollment of about 500 students, pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, and more than half of the students receive some financial assistance.
For the past 15 years, Marin was president of the Caribbean Association of Independent Schools. He was a member of the Caribbean Advisory Committee of the Commission on Secondary Schools of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and played a leadership role in the National Association of Independent Schools.
In January 2000 he was appointed a commissioner on elementary schools of the Middle States Association – one of only 21 commissioners nationwide.
He was an avid spearfishing diver and sportfishing enthusiast. Active in the local community, he was a founding member of the St. Thomas-St. John Interscholastic Athletic Association, a director and former president of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, and a former president of Rotary of St. Thomas.
He is survived by his wife, Jackie; and three children by a previous marriage: his son, Luke, who attends high school in Michigan but has been on St. Thomas for the summer, and two daughters, Amy, who just graduated from the University of Michigan, and another daughter Andrea, a student at Michigan State.
Funeral arrangements will be announced. Davis said that it was Marin's desire to be an organ donor and to be buried at sea off St. Thomas, and that his family was making arrangements for both wishes to be honored.


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