Mark Fabian Cherniavsky died peacefully at home surrounded by family and friends. Mark faced his cancer diagnosis with the same courage and fearlessness that enabled his recovery from a stroke in 2006. Mark's grace, determination and positive outlook in the face of adversity was an inspiring example to his family and friends.
Born in the village of Sternfield, near Saxmundham in Suffolk, England to the late Mischel and Mary Cherniavsky, née Rogers, Mark was the youngest of six children. The son of a Russian-born cellist who had married the daughter of a prominent Vancouver family, Mark's upbringing was at once steeped in tradition and, remarkable for the era, international.
Throughout his life, Mark maintained a stubborn but charming Englishness overlaid with an engaging cosmopolitanism. Sequestered to Vancouver for safety during World War II, Mark returned to England in 1945 and attended St. George's School at Windsor Castle and Marlborough College in Wiltshire, before earning a Master's degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Christ's Church at Oxford University. A school friend from Marlborough remembers Mark as an aesthete, anti-authority, anti-religious, despising sports, even joining the cadet force band as a means of avoiding field days. He also had a fondness for limericks (the more outrageous the better).
The son of itinerant parents, Mark had lived in England, Canada and France, all by adolescence, and inherited this wanderlust. A formidable organizer during his days at Oxford, he helped facilitate the so-called Canada Club, which enabled some 200 undergraduates to travel to Canada on a chartered airplane and spend the summer expanding their horizons through local jobs such as being sleeping-car porters on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Mark cultivated a talent for "fitting in" no matter the context, be it London clubland, a Burgundian vineyard, American academia or a souk in Istanbul.
After graduating from university, Mark accepted a job with the Economist Intelligence Unit in Istanbul, Turkey in 1961. Next came a stint working in Paris for the Christian Michelsen Institute, during which time he met and began dating, Elizabeth Anne Willan, who had come to Paris from North Yorkshire to study French cooking. Having joined the World Bank in Washington, DC in 1965, while on a mission to Costa Rica, Mark and Anne were married in San Jose on July 9, 1966, following a proposal via telegram. They returned to Washington, DC, where their son Simon was born. While on leave from the World Bank, Mark attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University earning a Master's in Public Administration. There in Boston, his daughter, Emma, was born.
Mark's career took the family first to Luxembourg and he rejoined the World Bank in Paris, from 1975 until 1986. During that time, Mark supported Anne's burgeoning career as a cooking teacher and cookbook author, including the opening of the renowned La Varenne Cooking School in Paris. While living in Paris, Mark and Anne purchased their treasured Château du Feÿ in Burgundy in 1982. Le Feÿ became home not only to their immediate family but also to La Varenne Cooking School, which relocated there in 1988. La Varenne and Château du Feÿ also were a home away from home and training ground to thousands of La Varenne students and guests. At the heart of what made Château du Feÿ a community was Mark as chatelain-in-chief. His hospitality and camaraderie knew no bounds. Mark took great pride and invested a huge amount of time and energy in preserving Le Feÿ's history and improving it for a future beyond his tenure, including the planting of a grove of truffle producing trees.
Mark returned to Washington DC with the World Bank in 1986, taking early retirement the next year. Thereafter, Mark invested his time and energy in supporting Anne's career. Anne and Mark had a true partnership in every aspect of their lives, greatly admired by all who came into contact with them.
After his stroke, Mark and Anne moved to Santa Monica, California to be closer to their daughter. While not able to travel as much, Mark embarked on several research projects and penned a memoir about his life, MARK MY WORDS, published in 2013. He was a member of The Zamorano Club in Los Angeles and the Oxford and Cambridge Club in London.
Two of Mark's true passions were travel and history. There are few countries in the world that Mark had not visited and these visits shaped his open-minded world view as well as his vast knowledge of world cultures. An avid book collector, Mark encouraged Anne to build her own culinary library and over the course of several decades he scoured bookshops and online booksellers to acquire hundreds of significant antiquarian cookbooks. Their cookbook collection will be donated to The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles together with the La Varenne archives. Mark's personal collection of travel books will remain in the family.
Mark was dedicated to his family and friends and relished planning trips, gatherings and parties. Many of the most memorable were held at Château du Feÿ, including both of his children's wedding receptions. He was also a great connector of the far-flung Cherniavsky-Rogers family. He leaves behind a number of close friends, many of whom he had been in steady contact with the last 60 years.
He is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Anne Cherniavsky, aka Anne Willan, of Santa Monica, California, a son Simon Cherniavsky and his wife Ekaterina of Kiev, Ukraine, and a daughter Emma Cherniavsky and her husband, Todd Schulkin, of London, England. He also leaves behind five cherished grandchildren, Sophia, Ksenia and Nina Cherniavsky, and Leo and Lucy Schulkin, as well as countless Cherniavsky and Rogers nephews, nieces and cousins in the United States, Canada and Europe.