Mark Sturgis: A big 'teddy bear' with a strong sense of self

Camera icon Aimee Sturgis King and Mark Potash
Mark Sturgis on a trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., about four years ago

Just before Mother’s Day when he was in first grade, Mark Sturgis brought his mother a broken flowerpot. His class had been working to grow flowers for their moms. But as Sturgis was walking out of school, a classmate dropped his.

“[Sturgis’]  heart was breaking at this little boy who was crying and scooping this all up, and he knew that I would be happier with the broken flower, proud of him that he did something sweet,” his mother, Aimee Sturgis King, said. “So he switched, and he took the broken one and gave [the other boy] his flower.”

“And that was Mark,” she said. “That was just always him.”

Sturgis was always a big kid, physically and emotionally mature, but on the inside he was “like a teddy bear,” his mother said. He had an ability to calm people, no matter what was going on, said his father, Mark Potash.

Sturgis King had her son when she was 15. They moved around often, so making friends in new places became her son’s forte. Even as a child, he was never shy about introducing himself to strangers, to shake their hands and exclaim, “Hi, I’m Mark.”

As he got older, Sturgis grew to love guitar, paint-balling with his father and stepfather, and all things involving Jack Black. Blessed with a sharp mind, Sturgis loved to philosophize. He and friend Tom Meo loved to “ask unanswerable questions” and get into deep discussions about life, Potash said.

After graduating from Bensalem High School, Sturgis spent a year living in Florida with his maternal grandparents, with whom he was very close. During his time there, he played guitar in a band.

When he returned to Pennsylvania, Sturgis became passionate about building projects he worked on with his father, sometimes seven days a week. About a month before he died, Sturgis told his father he wanted to succeed so he could help his mother and stepfather, Thomas King, fix up their new home in Maryland.

Sturgis was the least materialistic 22-year-old that King had ever known, he said. He wore basketball shorts and mismatched sandals to pretty much any occasion. He barely used social media and was notorious for not charging his cellphone.

“If you would have met him,” Potash said, “you would have instantly loved him.”

Camera icon JOSE F. MORENO/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
From left, Mark Sturgis’ stepfather, Thomas King; his mother, Aimee Sturgis King; and his father, Mark Potash, remember Sturgis during an interview with the  Inquirer.