Mark Keffer
1997 - 2019
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Mark Hansen Keffer
Mark Hansen Keffer died on Friday, October 11, 2019, in Puerto Rico, along with his girlfriend, Maya Robinson. They were celebrating their four-year anniversary when they were caught in a flash flood at the Espíritu Santo river, the river of the Holy Spirit, at El Yunque National Rainforest.
Mark was born in Houston, Texas, on January 25, 1997. He is the brother of Peter and the youngest son of John and Debbie Keffer. When Mark was five, the Keffers moved from Houston to London, and he developed the only British accent in the family. Although it was hotly contested who was taller, Mark was about 6' 3", like Peter. When Mark walked together with his father and brother, you could see that they all shared the same gentle and ambling walk.
Mark was unfailingly sensitive and affectionate. He was also fiercely creative, like his mother, Debbie. He honed his musical talent in the Byron Consort Choir at Harrow School in London, where he learned to arrange and compose music, as well as to sing. He toured the world, including Rome, Milan, Moscow, New York, Washington D.C., and Chicago. Mark sang with the Byron Consort many times at St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and Westminster Cathedral in London. His voice had a soft and warm quality that he commanded with confidence, even at a young age, and he was always happy to perform.
At Harrow, Mark discovered that he was a gifted visual artist, and he continued to paint throughout his life. Mark learned to paint from photographs so that he could follow shapes as closely as possible. Mark's paintings were never small—he repeatedly chose large formats—and his work was always deliberate, ambitious, and thoughtful.
But Mark's style was never predictable. In his 22 years, he produced a vast collection of works that range from photorealistic self-portraits, bright abstracts inspired by Roman marble, and imagined woodland landscapes that seem lit from within. Many of his works are featured on his website,
Mark attended Georgetown University, his father's alma mater. He graduated with a double major in Art and Psychology and a minor in Economics in 2019. In his senior year he was co-author of a peer-reviewed academic paper on psychology, titled "Using Matching 'Smarts' and Interest to Successfully Address Depression Caused by Existential Crisis."
At Georgetown, for some time he was part of the rowing team. His crewmates said he was always easy to talk to, smiling and funny, even when they had to wake up before sunrise. "If it weren't for people like Mark then the other guys wouldn't have found the motivation to get up at 5 A.M. and work out," his former roommate Will Thacher said.
He used his musical skills as a leader of the musical group the Capitol Gs, where he arranged many of their pieces as musical director. A recent president of the group, Marie Merveilleux du Vignaux, said that Mark's musical arrangements were some of the most challenging that they sang, but they were always rewarding and beautiful.
At Georgetown, Mark kept painting. His paintings reveal his growing wisdom and imagination. He thought deeply about the passage of time—a theme of many of his paintings—the environment, and racial injustice in America.
A professor of art history at Georgetown, Elizabeth Prelinger, bought one of his paintings when he was a student, and hung it in her dining room. "My breath was taken away when I first saw Mark's painting, 'Urban Infection,'" she said. "I cannot imagine being without it. Mark and I talked many times about his work and his plans. He was a remarkable young man."
Georgetown was where Mark met Maya. He became enthralled with her from the moment they met, only a few weeks into their freshman year. They did almost everything together from that point on. They were on the rowing team together, they sang together in the Capitol Gs, they ate most of their meals together, and they studied together. They had a lot of fun together—they liked to watch horror movies, seek out quirky ice cream flavors and hang out. Mark could often be seen in a Hawaiian shirt, probably given to him by Maya. They were ambitious, always talking about what their futures might look like. They were considering graduate school and possibly founding a startup.
"All of us only knew Mark and Maya as one," a classmate said. "They genuinely loved each other and you could feel that love just by being around them."
In 2019, after graduating from Georgetown, Mark moved into an apartment in Brooklyn, New York. He wanted to live close to his brother, Peter, and Peter found the apartment for him and his college roommate Matt Giangiordano. Mark loved his first grown up home, which he decorated by trawling nearby thrift stores with his interior designer mother, Debbie. Maya had moved into an apartment nearby, in Manhattan, and in the summer of 2019 they both started their first graduate jobs. Mark was an analyst at Ion Group, and Maya worked in finance at BlackRock. Mark was to be the best man at Peter's wedding in July, 2020, and talked about how much he looked forward to giving his speech.
Mark will be remembered as a sweet and bright young man; a brother, son, nephew, grandson, friend, musician, and artist. He is survived by his mother Debbie, father John, brother Peter, soon to be sister-in-law Eloise Blondiau, aunt Cheryl Vogel and her husband, his uncle, Kevin, and grandmother Barbara Westgard.
In a painting he completed in 2015, when he was 18, he depicted shards of glass suspended before an orb of light. He called the painting "Persistence." He wrote: "I wanted to depict the idea of someone's spirit never being truly crushed and the importance of persistence." He explained that even though one's spirit can be "fragmented into hundreds of pieces (depicted by the broken glass) one's spirit will remain untouched and whole."
This leaves "the individual with an option to persist," Mark wrote. "An option which they must choose."
There will be a funeral Mass for Mark Keffer on Monday, October 21st at 4:30 pm at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, 1801 Sage Road, Houston, Texas. All are welcome.
In lieu of flowers, the Keffer family requests donations in the names of Mark Keffer and Maya Robinson to the charity "El Toque del Maestro" in Puerto Rico. You can donate on Venmo by searching for @Mark-And-Maya on the app.
You can mail checks payable to Hogar Alma Inc. to the following address:
Government Chaplain Corps
El Toque del Maestro
Box 194941
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00919
The Keffer family is grateful for the kindness, help and support shown to them by the authorities in Puerto Rico, including Eric Cintron (Negociado de Manejo de Emergencias) and his search team that found Mark; the acting Secretary of State of Puerto Rico, Maria Marcano; Eric Rios (Government Chaplain Corps); Madeline Santiago (Tourism department of Puerto Rico); and Agent Christian Lopez (Puerto Rico police department).

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Oct. 18, 2019.
Memories & Condolences
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21 entries
November 3, 2019
I am so sorry for your loss and am keeping Mark's and Maya's family in my thoughts. I taught Mark in an Ignatius seminar during his first semester at Georgetown and had him in my lab. He was a student and human of a very rare quality, a beautiful spirit and mind.
Yulia Chentsova Dutton
October 26, 2019
I only knew Mark for a few months when I was still interning at the Dare Association. It is very sad that someone so young and so talented had to pass away. Condolences to his family and his friends.
Xiaojie Liu
October 26, 2019
I grew up playing in the rivers of Puerto Rico. Our island mourns with you. Thank you for donating to an island cause. What a beautiful, fully lived and special life he lived. May God bless all of you in this very difficult time. Bendiciones. Y amor.
Diane Schulte
October 25, 2019
John and Debbie

It is the ultimate quandary of this Christian/Jesuit life of ours to explain incalculable loss. The only answer palatable is God had another plan for him. I remember him at my wedding now nearly 20 years ago. The tears will wash away but his accomplishments and spirit will not. I can only extend my family's heartfelt condolences and pray for all of you in this time of profound sorrow.

Frank Doran
October 23, 2019
I am so sorry for your loss. May God grant you comfort, strength and peace in your time of deep sorrow. Mark and Maya and you all have been in my prayers as soon as I heard of this terrible tragedy from my friend, Ellen, Matthew's mom. I have been offering up the graces from Masses and Communion received for the repose of their souls.I pray that they now enjoy the Eternal Beatitude of God's presence.
You are all in my prayers.
With Deepest Sympathy,
Unice Keong
Unice Keong
October 22, 2019
I am so sorry for this tragic loss of a very talented young man that I read and heard about. There are no words. Linda Giangiordano. Cousin of Mathew
October 21, 2019
Please know I have been praying the Divine Mercy nonstop for Mark and Maya, and all of you, since I heard the news from Matt's mom, Ellen. Mark was a gift to all as he grew into a beautiful young man. May his light remain with all of you as you honor him with your lives. May God's peace and love envelope all of you as you walk this journey.
Barbara Lamblin
October 21, 2019
I've been praying non-stop for Mark and Maya and all of you since Matt told me of Mark and Maya's passing a week ago. Greg and I helped Mark move out of the house at Georgetown and I was impressed by his easy manner. Prayers always comfort me in times of trouble so know that I'll keep praying for him and you. May God grant you peace. And thank you for raising a wonderful son.
Ellen Giangiordano
October 21, 2019
I am so sorry for your loss. May the love of God and family and friends be of some comfort in this aching pain. And may Mark and Maya rest in His merciful embrace. (A friend of Matt's parents)
Brewster Fay
October 21, 2019
As I went on to read Mark' s full obituary I was stunned to find that God connects us all so mysteriously. Life is so very entangled in such an unbelievably beautiful way. St. Michael the Archangel was my daughter Olivia's parish when she lived in Houston. I have been there several times. And now of all the many many parishes Mark's funeral could be it's that one. God's ways are deeper than we can imagine . We are so interconnected at such personal levels. God bless you and may He bring you and your whole family peace.
Again my condolences,
Ginny Haney
Virginia Haney
October 21, 2019
Please accept our most sincere sympathies on the loss of your dear son, Mark. You and he are in our prayers. May the Lord God give you consolation and peace in your grief.
Most sincerely,
Ginny Haney (cousin of Matt Giangiordano) and family
Virginia Haney
October 19, 2019
I am soo sorry for your loss. May Mark and Maya Fly With the Angels.
October 19, 2019
Debbie and John. You raised a wonderful young man. I am praying for you all now. Love, Judy
Judy Reigel
October 18, 2019
Mark sounded like a wonderful man!
May the God of all comfort strengthen the family during this time of deep sorrow. Those who pass on, God keeps in his memory because they are precious in his eyes. My sincerest condolences. (Psalms 116:15)
October 17, 2019
Our hearts are heavy, but our spirits remain lifted by our memories of Mark. So much goodness, such a bright light he was, and shall remain. We love you and we miss you Mark.
Our hearts and our love to our dear friends, the Keffers.

McGonigel Family
Houston, Texas
Tim, Heather, Graham, Garrett
Tim McGonigel
October 17, 2019
Dear John, Debbie and Peter:
Lily and I would like to extend our deepest condolences to all of you for this tragic event.
You are in our thoughts and prayers.
Lily and Hamid Kooros
October 17, 2019
Dearest Johnny, Debbie and Peter,
In deep sorrow for your tragic loss, i'm close to you in my prayers. May Our Lord grant you resignation and courage knowing he is now in the peace of Our Lord.
My heartfelt condolences
with all my love
Diego Cohen
October 16, 2019
Debbie, John and Peter, the entire Tilney family is greatly saddened by Mark's loss. Our earthly world is a little less bright today without his joyous and kind spirit. We pray you will find some comfort in knowing he is with our Heavenly Father and brightening the stars and the heavens just a bit more.

We hold you firmly in our prayers, and send much much love,

Beth, Schuyler, Lawren, Baker, and Merritt
Beth and Schuyler Tilney
Family Friend
October 16, 2019
We are mourning the loss of such a talented, kind, loving young man. It is tragic to lose him way before his time. I know everyone will be focused on all the beauty and joy he brought to others during his time with us. May God hold Debbie, John and Peter in His loving embrace during this sorrowful time. We are praying for his and Mais families. Cherie and Jim Flores
Cherie Flores
October 15, 2019
So very sad to hear this news. Debbie, John, Peter - you are in our thoughts. We send our love and prayers.
Sarah & Eugene Fahy
October 15, 2019
So very sad to hear this tragic news. I remember Mark as a shy, thoughtful, sweet young man at St Philip's School in London. Our love and thoughts to Peter and all the family at this dreadful time. Harry and Anna
Harry Biggs-Davison
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