Mark Kolman of Middlebury, CT and Surf City, NJ – and formerly of Doylestown, PA, Princeton, NJ, and Leysin, Switzerland – passed away on Friday, January 26 surrounded by his family at Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Haven after a five-month battle with liposarcoma. He was 53.
Born on Fort Bliss in El Paso, TX to Yupha “Noree” (née Chantim) Kolman and Lt. Col. Michael Kolman, Mark wore many hats throughout his life. He was a gifted athlete, lifelong swimmer, and a career educator. Most notably, however, he was a loyal friend, an infallible father to his daughters, P.J. and Pepper, and a loving “boyfriend” to his wife Amy (née Elfman). They were married for 31 years, but dated for 33 years. He was kind, peaceful, and patient in nature and a thoughtful listener with brilliant comedic timing.
Mark accomplished a lot in life and will undoubtedly be remembered for his prowess in the pool. As a member of the Wilmington Aquatic Club in Wilmington, DE, he qualified for U.S. Junior Nationals, U.S. Senior Nationals, and, eventually, at the age of 17, for the 1988 U.S. Olympic trials. Mark became a member of the University of Tennessee men’s swim team in 1989. During his time as a Vol, he qualified for Olympic trials again in 1992, earned All-American honors and made several S.E.C. and NCAA Championship appearances before completing his degree in Psychology.
Mark cared deeply about doing good and helping others. After a 10-year career in financial services, he followed his heart and embarked on a career in education. He earned two Master’s degrees, one in Special Education from Arcadia University and another in Educational Leadership from Drexel University. He spent over 20 years as a teacher, coach, and administrator at the Hun School of Princeton, the Leysin American School in Switzerland, and Cheshire Academy in Cheshire, CT.
Mark was a humble man who made friends easily. He was a slayer of bugs for his daughters, and the favorite dog walker to his beloved Fancy. If he did not know how to repair something in the house, he happily and immediately taught himself how to do so. He listened to Sleepy Hollow on WXPN every single Sunday morning and could beat just about anyone at Name That Tune. He loved fishing from a young age, participated in open water swimming races as far west as Waimea Bay, HI and as far east as Barnegat Light, NJ, learned to surf in his 30s and took up skiing and mountain biking after moving to the Swiss Alps in his 40s. He found beauty, purpose, and enjoyment through spending time outside and never thought he was too old to learn a new trick. To that end, he spent what would unknowingly be his final summer as a rookie on Ship Bottom Beach Patrol and competed at the 2023 LBI Lifeguard Championship Tournament in Harvey Cedars, NJ, and the Goudy Memorial Lifeguard Races in Ventnor City, NJ.
In addition to his wife, Amy, and daughters, P.J. and Pepper, Mark is survived by his father, Michael, his brother, Michael (Aimée) and twelve nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his mother.
A celebration of Mark’s life will be held at Brant Beach Yacht Club in Long Beach Island, NJ on Friday, February 23. Visitation will begin at 4:30 p.m. and remarks will begin at 5:00 p.m. To honor Mark’s love of swimming and his belief in the power of knowing how to swim, Amy, P.J., and Pepper Kolman have established the Kolman Family Fund for Swimming Lessons at the St. Francis Aquatic Center in Brant Beach, NJ. The fund seeks to subsidize the cost of swimming lessons and increase access and interest in swimming for early elementary school students in Southern Ocean County. Tax-deductible donations made in Mark’s memory should be directed to the aquatics program at the Long Beach Island Community Center at 4700 Long Beach Blvd, Long Beach Township, NJ, 08008. Gifts can also be made online. To honor Mark’s love of surfing and the ocean, a memorial paddle-out is tentatively planned for Sunday, July 7, 2024.