The Heart of an Englishman: Remembering Mark Barratt

Mark Barratt at ATypI 2009 in Mexico City.

A singularly bright and shining spirit has left this world. Mark Barratt passed away Saturday, September 11, 2021, at age 68, after bravely battling an illness that took him far too soon.

It seems outrageous and impossible to comprehend such profound loss—the mind reels and begs the aching heart to reject the sorrow-making reality of Mark’s passing.

It’s been a surreal seven days of shock, disbelief, and tearful questioning. But grief can never overshadow the blessing of knowing this remarkable man; instead, we rise above the well of our tears and celebrate the wonder that was Mark Barratt.

Born June 11, 1953, Mark Barratt was the husband, partner, and best friend of the brilliant and lovely Sue Walker. Together, they raised five kind and accomplished children: Amelia, Georgia, Jo, Martha, and Owen.

Surrounded by family and friends, Mark was happily ensconced in the historic market town of Reading, where the Thames and Kennet rivers meet. He and Sue opened their door to neighbors, university students and teachers, and visitors from around the globe. Their cozy house and charming gardens were a welcome respite for many a weary traveler. Not to be outdone by the humans, plenty of dogs, cats, and chickens were part of Mark’s inner circle.

Mark loved to cook and laid a generous table, baking bread and plucking fresh ingredients from his bountiful garden. He loved to travel and was a voracious reader of books and periodicals of every kind. He was a lover of language, a gifted wordsmith who used his sharp wit and gentle intellect to turn a phrase deftly.

With Sue, Mark founded Text Matters circa 1990. The company specializes in typography, information design, systems/process improvement, and related disciplines, forming a user-centered approach to solving communications issues.

Through Text Matters, Mark worked with cultural institutions, governmental agencies, publications, and nonprofits. His contributions in the latter category first introduced us to this tremendous gentleman. Way back in 1994, Mark became a member of our nonprofit, the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI).

Mark traveled all over the world to ATypI conferences, enthusiastically welcoming old friends and newcomers alike. He had a way of making everyone feel special and included. Mark’s laughter was hearty, genuine, and infectious, his brilliant ocean-colored eyes sparkling as he delivered witty remarks in mellifluous tenor.

From the moment he became involved with ATypI, Mark was incredibly generous with his time and considerable talents. He published fantastic newspapers during our conferences, developed programs, gave presentations, and did many other things that just needed doing. During an era of significant change in the type industry, Mark helped move ATypI in a more modern direction. He served in leadership on the ATypI board of directors and as a country delegate for the United Kingdom. Significantly, Mark established our web presence early on. He was ATypI’s webmaster and behind-the-scenes tech wizard for two decades. We called on him often for advice and solutions. A thoughtful problem-solver, Mark could always figure out how to make things work.

Before he fell ill, Mark was helping us to reimagine our digital presence and migrate ATypI’s website and shop to a new platform. He focused on improving systems and better serving the user. Mark was a vitally important member of our team, with a long and dedicated history of supporting our community. We value his ideas, his expertise, and his insight more than we can say.

Mark Barratt lived a splendid life full of much-deserved love and happiness. We were fortunate beyond measure to call him a friend. Mark touched the lives of so many, and we are united in our admiration and affection for him.

We will miss Mark always. May he rest in peace.

Our deepest sympathies and love go to Mark’s cherished family.

 
Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
—Robert Frost