Mark Christopher Price, born March 13, 1958 to Stacey (Marion) Price and Rick Pilla, in Colorado Springs, was gifted his wings and went home for Christmas. He left behind; his soul mate, Valli Price; a daughter, Danielle Price; and a son, Jeffrey Price, wife Kayla Price. He was blessed with four amazing grandchildren; Micah Price, Channing Price, Mia Price and Atalia Price, who were his entire world. Our Dad left this world a loved and valued man. A man of generosity and kindness. He was a man of hard work and dedication.
Of course we, his children, didn't know him his entire life, but we heard many stories of what a true fisherman he was, even as a child. He would spend hours with his friends fishing for crawdad's during his time in Andrews, South Carolina and Kingman, Arizona. Our dad was known for his generous nature and desire to care for others, which were traits he displayed very early in life. Our dad spent many years in his youth caring for his grandmother and through his time with her, he was able to encourage her to walk again.
Our dad was very charismatic and had a personality that drew you in and allowed an instant connection. It was no surprise to us kids when we heard the many stories of his popularity in high school. Our dad attended Niwot High, where he met the love of his life, our mom, Valli (Mantz) and graduated in 1977. They were an electric couple with an unbreakable bond. The strength the two of them created, together, proved to be nothing short of amazing.
Shortly after graduating our dad enlisted in the United States Air Force, where he was stationed in Alamogordo, New Mexico. In October, 1979 our parents tied the knot and made their first home in New Mexico. After 6 years of service, our dad was honorably discharged and our parents returned to their home town of Longmont, Colorado.
After returning home, our father was challenged with which direction his career would lead. Out of necessity he took a job with Central Packing, driving a delivery truck and performing maintenance on their refrigeration units.
As so many know, our dad was blessed with a magnanimous and gregarious personality which didn't take long for his new employer to notice. Central Packing quickly realized his rapport with his customers and believed his gifts weren't being used to their best abilities. To everyone's best interest they moved him to sales, where he quickly became their top salesman. It wasn't long before a larger company, Nobel/Sysco, took note of our dad's tenacity and offered him a position with them. As luck would have it, one of his accounts was Aunt Alice's Kitchen. A friendship with owner, Tony Donovan, began almost immediately, which eventually led to the opportunity of a partnership. After purchasing his portion, our dad, in true Mark form, turned a sleepy little restaurant into a booming main-staple in Longmont. It was here he really thrived. He loved to create delicious dishes and to have the opportunity to develop great relationships with his customers. It brought him such joy to watch families grow and share their love for Alice's with the generations that followed.
Our dad had the ability to relate to everyone he met. His generous nature and love for everyone made it easy to connect with him. He was blessed with many employees over the years and his staff at Aunt Alice's and Goodfella's Diner were all considered family to him and he truly loved each one of them.
In addition to Alice's and Goodfella's, our dad also owned and operated, at one point; Outback Hauling, The Open Hearth, Sportsman Liquor, A+ Signs and 17th Avenue Event Center.
Though our dad kept himself occupied with his many business ventures he lived a life rich in relationships. He had many people whom he loved and enjoyed spending his time and passions with. One very treasured relationship was with his cousin, Joey Locasio. Together, the boys spent their youth building memories and causing their mothers many headaches. Another highly impactful relationship was his friend, mentor and father figure, Gene Beavers.
As children, we remember our dad loving on all who needed someone, and often times developing a life long relationship with them. He was a fair man who wanted the best for everyone. Our dad always gave so much to so many and we greatly appreciated those that took the time to invest in him and help shape him into the man he was.
Our dad painfully said goodbye to his mom when she was just 57 years old and it wasn't until 20 years later, he discovered birth father. While he wasn't able to meet his father, we were all comforted to know his father loved him very much and never stopped looking for him. It was through this discovery we also learned he has two brothers and a sister, whom welcomed us all with open arms. Prior to his final days, our dad was blessed with the opportunity to meet his brother Rich and wife Judy.
As early as we can remember, our dad always did the cooking. We assumed it was because it was such a passion of his, and while that was true, we still laugh today knowing how it came about. Our mom always laughed that he had no other option when he married her. While she could host a remarkable party, cooking wasn't her forte. If he wanted to eat, he needed to cook.
Our dad found joy in working hard and serving the community, but his true peace came when fishing. He was an excellent fisherman. Deep sea, fresh water, warm or freezing, he mastered it all. I will forever cherish the memories of our father-son fishing venture to British Columbia. It was a time of quiet, uninterrupted time together, sharing in his passion. Our dad loved to share his passions with others, which eventually led to the development of his beloved annual "Fish Fry" at the restaurants. If our dad wasn't clearing his head while fishing, he was golfing. Another passion he passed on to his children, his grandchildren, and shared with so many dear to him. He also had a passion for building classic cars, like his cherished 1970 Chevelle and cruising through the Rockies on his Harley Davidson.
Our dad worked hard for his family and made sure to take time away to unwind. Although we couldn't keep him down, even on vacation, we were blessed with many trips to our home-away-from-home, Cabo San Lucas, and his own piece of heaven, Alaska. He loved the outdoors and providing his family with new experiences.
While our father was a successful, admired businessman, with many professional achievements, his greatest pride and drive came from his family. He loved hard and worked even harder to provide for his family. He would famously say "no job is beneath me", even if that meant a toilet needed to be scrubbed, he'd get it done. As his children, we quickly adapted this mindset, even if at times it was against our desires.
Our dad was a very proud man and it brings us immense amounts of comfort knowing he took great pride in his children following in his footsteps. My sister, Danielle, graduated from culinary school and built a wonderfully successful career in the food industry. It wasn't until our father was struck with COVID and needed to focus on his health and recovery that she graciously stepped away, to help support our family and lead Aunt Alice's.
I, fueled with my father's personality and work ethic, pursued a career fresh out of high school, away from the family business. However, it didn't take long for my dad and I to realize our potential together. After many conversations, I made the leap of faith to follow my dream of working with my dad, and together we opened Goodfella's Diner, which has quickly joined Alice's as a Longmont staple.
As unexpected and heartbreaking the loss of our father has been to our family and so many others, we find so much joy in the time we had. While the last few months were not ideal in a business aspect, they were incredible for our heart. For so many years my dad was busy providing, and during these final months he was able to spend some much deserved time of rest with his love, our mom, and he was able to watch his children in full bloom. Leading and building, just as he did all our lives. His grandchildren had uninterrupted time with their Bompa, loads of laughs and heartfelt conversations that will be cherished forever.
Our dad was a larger than life guy, who touched so many lives during his time on earth. A life worth celebrating. Due to our current times, a celebration of life will be postponed until mid-late summer.
In lieu of flowers, we ask for you to show your love and support by helping keep our dad's legacy alive in supporting the businesses he worked so hard to build. Our dad loved to see all his customers, and we do as well. Please keep your faces around. Together the memories will keep him near.
Our dad was a lot of things to a lot of people, but at the end of the day, when he would walk through the screen door, slip off his white, K-Swiss shoes and relax back in his La-Z-boy, he was our dad, a husband and a Bompa. His strength was our peace no matter how crazy this world seemed. Now is his time to rest. He is home now. We miss him with everything we have but find comfort in knowing we will see him again.
Published in Longmont Times-Call on Jan. 3, 2021.