Dear BCI family and friends,
It is with unspeakable sadness that I write to inform you of the passing of Mark Farris Johnson. Like too many others around the world, Mark lost his life to COVID-19.
Mark joined BCI’s board of directors in 1999 and served as Chairman from 2011 to 2016. He brought an extraordinary amount of insight and expertise gained from his trailblazing career in technology and non-profit work. Mark was founder and former CEO of MFJ International, a database management software company. Partnering with advanced technology firms such as IBM and Lotus, the company designed and distributed the first customer relationship management (CRM) software in the 1980s, winning highest awards for design innovation. Mark also founded non-profit organizations, including ImmuNet and the website AIDS.org, which became the most visited website for AIDS information and counseling in the 1990s and 2000s. In addition to his professional pursuits, Mark was a virtuoso pianist with a passion for jazz.
No resume, however impressive, can capture the essence of a person. Mark was my most cherished friend and mentor since we were 15 years old. We met at The Asheville School our sophomore year of high school, and I was captivated by his brilliant mind, his irreverent sense of humor, and his zest for life. Even as our circumstances changed, our friendship stayed strong and true throughout the years. In times of joy and crisis, Mark was always with me.
When I fell in love with bonobos and decided to devote my life to their protection, Mark was right there, cheering me on. Since BCI’s inception, Mark has been an integral part of the team. Beyond his official role as a board member, he helped in many ways behind the scenes, and was always a source of encouragement and support.
We at BCI will miss Mark dearly, and we will be forever grateful for his wisdom, kindness, and creativity. May his gifts continue to inspire us. Godspeed, dear friend.
Sally Jewell Coxe