DEDICATION: Mark Silcox taught for more than 40 years.
DEDICATION: Mark Silcox taught for more than 40 years. Contributed

Boonah community grieve for beloved teacher

IN THE weeks before his death, beloved Boonah teacher Mark Silcox knew his life was ending.

He had been diagnosed with metastatic melanoma a week before Christmas and had no timeframe on how long he may get to live.

What he didn't know, despite a lifetime of dedication, was the impact he would leave behind.

The tight-knit Boonah community was left grieving when Mark succumbed to the disease on Tuesday, February 23.

Since his death, support has flooded in for the Silcox family with past students, colleagues and wider members of the Boonah community sharing their memories of the beloved teacher.

Those who knew Mark described him as a true gentlemen who fought for what was right and went above and beyond in his role as a teacher, father, husband and grandfather.

Mark and wife Wendi on their wedding day.
Mark and wife Wendi on their wedding day.

His wife of 41 years, Wendi, said the humble 63-year-old believed his life was fairly "unremarkable" - although anyone who had met him knew the opposite to be true.

At the service she spoke of how her husband left a legacy of good memories not only for his family but to all those he came into contact with.

"What has been heart-warming during the last stages of his illness are the many letters, emails, anecdotes and reminiscences that we have received from people whose lives he has touched," she said.

"Past students have written about a respected teacher who fought for justice for them, or who turned them around at a difficult time in their lives.

"Colleagues have commented on his integrity and hard work as a teacher (and) community members have told their stories of his wicked sense of humour and his strong sense of community spirit."

Wendi described how she and Mark first met at teachers college and said a passion for teaching played a central role in her husband's entire adult life.

"We were friends for a year at college before I thought, 'Hang on, this is someone special'," she said.

"When we graduated, in our naivety, we asked to be posted together and said we'd go anywhere.

"The only spot was Dimbulah but they only had married quarters. Mark asked me to marry him and we were married six weeks later."

After teaching at several schools, Mark started at Boonah State High School in the '80s and remained there for 33 years.

The family lived in nearby Kalbar for 15 years and in Roadvale for 18 years.

"Mark was extremely community minded and the sense of community in Boonah is amazing," Wendi said.

"He helped in the construction of the school's hall with his students and was instrumental in getting the new tuckshop built.

"He felt privileged to do that and it's a legacy his students now have."

Mark taught maths as well as furnishing and construction at Boonah State High School before retiring four years ago to run Kalbar Fruit and Veg with his family.

"He had struggled as a student and understood what it was like not to understand something," Wendi said.

"Kids loved him because he made sure everyone could understand and he was a very practical teacher. In maths he would cut up cake while talking about fractions - he was very hands on."

The retired teacher was farewelled in a private service on

February 29 which he was able to plan himself before his death.

Wendi said the local community had gone above and beyond to support her family since her husband's passing.

"The support has been really heart-warming. I knew Mark had a good relationship with students but I never knew he had touched so many lives," she said.

"We think he lived a remarkable life."

Mark Silcox is remembered by his wife Wendi, his three children Kathryn, Amber and James, his daughter-in-law Phuong, his granddaughter Elissa and the entire Boonah community. 

- The journalist was a past student of Mr Silcox.


FIRST YEAR: Mr Silcox in the staff room when he first became a teacher.
FIRST YEAR: Mr Silcox in the staff room when he first became a teacher. Contributed

Student tributes

Louise Schaefer He was a great teacher.

Marion Verrall Heaven has gained a gentleman. Many special memories of chats in that staffroom. Many words of wisdom are ringing in my ears Mark RIP.

Melissa McKinnon He was a fantastic teacher and lovely man. Condolences to his family and friends.

Tanya Maree Klan He was a true gentleman and an awesome teacher, he will be sadly missed.

Patena Moesker Mark you were a wonderful gentle giant and a wise soul. Thank you for our fun chats at school and for leaving behind great memories. You got to be a grandad and at least you didn't suffer for a long period. RIP dear colleague.

Rebecca Scherger Thoughts are with you all. Such a wonderful man taken to soon.

Donna Fox RIP - you were a very special teacher to my kids and they thought a lot of Mr Silcox.

Jess Whitlock I will always have fond memories of his patience with us! And his often shake of the head to the craziness we put him through. Such a wonderful teacher.

Anne Willett It was a privilege to work with Mark in the classroom, enjoyed many laughs with him. He will be missed.

Dick Collyer I learned a lot from him about humility, perspective and fairness. His passing is a great loss, but we are all better for knowing him.

'Ipswich's sweet side': Strawberry lovers get behind farmers

premium_icon 'Ipswich's sweet side': Strawberry lovers get behind farmers

Fruit sales and prices recover ahead of "Strawberry Sunday"

Mum is no longer the word on teen pregnancy

premium_icon Mum is no longer the word on teen pregnancy

Classes open for Ipswich teen mums

Third year in a row for Ipswich artist to win top award

premium_icon Third year in a row for Ipswich artist to win top award

The awards are Flying Arts Alliance's annual visual arts prize

Local Partners