Mark Brian Smallwood
April 1956 ~ March 2009
52 years, 11 months, 8 days
Beloved husband and father, long-term Turlock resident and proprietor of La Morenita restaurant on Coffee Road in Modesto, died unexpectedly in his sleep at his home in Turlock on Monday morning.
Born to Rev. Robert and Norma Smallwood in Placerville, Calif. in 1956, he moved with his family to Delhi in 1964 where he attended the Delhi schools, graduating from Livingston High School in 1974. Mark earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Bethany University in Santa Cruz, Calif., in 1980. He and his childhood sweetheart, Gloria Gonzales were married shortly after graduation at Delhi Good Tidings Church where they served as youth pastors touching the lives of many of the youth of that community.
Mark and Gloria had four beautiful children in the early years of their marriage—Brityn, Jordan, Hillary, and Robbie all residents of the Turlock/Denair communities. Then later in life they were blessed with another daughter, Audrey Claire (now four years old)—and she became the apple of Mark’s eye and constant companion in his early mid-life years.
Mark was an avid fisherman, learning the paths and trails down into the canyons to the streams and rivers of the Sierra Nevada Mountains from his paternal grandfather, LD Smallwood. Rare was the occasion that he returned from a fishing trip having not caught his limit (or over his limit!). He was also a life-long SF Giants and 49er fan who followed Willie Mays career with a passion. So much so that his youngest son’s middle name is “Mays.”
Mark was a passionate person who did not approach life with the least bit of hesitancy or timidity. He loved his family, friends, and customers deeply. He loved his God and had an intense love of Scripture and passion for the presence of the Holy Spirit. But he was also a relentless practical joker to his friends and acquaintances (and strangers)! There was never a dull moment when Mark was around, and if you were in his circle of friends, you were a part of his extended family!
Many knew Mark from his years as a rural deliver agent for the Modesto Bee and Turlock Journal newspapers. More recently, many people became acquainted with him through his award-winning restaurant in Modesto. He was a passionate restaurateur, taking great pride in providing delicious food and great service in his and Gloria’s family-owned business.
Mark’s passion for life, his deep spirituality, and his love of family and friends will be missed by all who knew him in the surrounding communities. His services will be held on Saturday morning at 11:00 at the Denair Connecting Point Nazarene Church. The family would like donations to be sent to the Teen Challenge Center in Turlock (522 W. Main) or the Westside Ministries in Turlock (P.O. Box 354)
Isaiah 57:1 says in part, “Good people pass away and the godly often die before their time…” Such is the case with this beloved husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend! Mark, we will all miss your larger-than-life, full-throttle passion for living—you have touched us all deeply!