In addition to the loss of Andy Krafsur this past week (page 3A), we are also saddened to report the death of Mark Fry at age 70.

For many years, Mark was the chief administrator here in El Paso for what became The Hospitals of Providence network. He retired in May 1999 after being stricken with the Epstein Barr virus followed by other complications.

A more formal listing of his many positions, awards and accomplishments is available in his obituary on page 13B of this issue. But I knew Mark, had shared meals and skied with him; so, permit me to offer a few personal observations.

El Paso owes Mark big time. He was on point for the Tenet Healthcare Corp. purchase of Providence Memorial Hospital, which was then a locally owned and operated facility.

Tenet paid $130 million for the hospital and money from the sale was used to create the Paso del Norte Health Foundation. The resulting nonprofit already has invested far more in the community than the original purchase price, some $187 million, promoting health initiatives like eating right and smoking cessation campaigns. And the corpus has continued to grow, now valued around $225 million.

Tenet, meanwhile, took Providence Hospital to a new level, investing upwards of $1 billion in the children’s hospital, specialists, staff and the latest in medical equipment.

I recall being with Mark at midnight the night the hospital purchase was finalized and Tenet, represented by Mark, took possession. As the clock approached midnight, the doctors and staff were understandably nervous about what life was going to be like after a takeover by what they probably viewed as the big corporate Cyclops.

Mark put a personal and friendly face on the takeover. As the synchronized hospital clocks hit midnight, dressed in jeans, boots and a polo shirt, he led a small delegation through every nook and cranny of the hospital. He introduced himself to doctors and staff and did his level best to put everyone at ease and assure all on duty that night that everything was going to be okay. And he was right. The hospital today offers far more in services than it did under local ownership.

El Paso Inc. also owes its own debt of gratitude to Mark for helping underwrite the launch of this publication back in 1995. I had been in Europe for a couple of years after leaving the El Paso Times. When I returned in early 1995, I was carrying a business plan and shopping for investors, readers and advertisers.

Mark liked the idea underpinning El Paso Inc., namely celebrating success and providing intelligence to the business community, and said he would support the project with advertising. He made good on that commitment and the relationship he launched continues today.

A celebration of Mark’s life is planned for 5 p.m. May 18 at El Paso Country Club. Paula Fry, Mark’s wife for 51 years, said she is planning to show a side of Marcus Fry that people did not know. I am sure he would approve.

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