Mark Robin arrived in Big Sky in 1993 with his wife Jackie, their dog Niner, a cat, and baby Andrew. Mark was a poet and a Mets fan; a man who would spend nearly the next three decades raising his family, building a business that became an anchor of the Big Sky community, and pursuing his many, varied passions.
During these years he would learn to ski, fly fish, skate ski, mountain bike, perfect his handstand in yoga, curate one of the best wine selections in Big Sky and become known as a true and honest friend who had absolutely no ability to be disingenuous.
Mark loved what he did; he grew up as the son of two retailers in a mom and pop luncheonette and candy store. His own store, the Hungry Moose Market and Deli started as a roadside vegetable stand in 1994, and moved into a storefront later that fall, becoming Big Sky’s first natural foods grocery. Eventually, the store moved to its current location in Town Center and later expanded with a second store in Big Sky Resort’s Mountain Mall.
The Hungry Moose soon became a gathering place, a community center for a new and growing town. Mark knew his customers’ names and stories, and loved the many returning clientele who came in and out with the seasons. The Hungry Moose sponsored nearly every local cause and Mark took pride in his deep connections to the growing community.
Mark was devoted to his parents. He lost his beloved mother, Pearl, to cancer in 1999. Later, when his father needed more care, he brought him out to Montana and cared for him until his death from Parkinson’s disease in 2016, shortly before Mark was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Mark handled his illness with the same grace, kindness, generosity and sense of humor with which he had lived his life. He brought people together. He attended football games, graduations, weddings and community events even when he had lost the ability to walk, move and talk. At each you could see that the community he had created followed him, always delighted by his beautiful and warm smile.
He was compelled to write and re-started his blog, markymooseinbigsky.blogspot.com, shortly after his diagnosis as a way of telling the very honest story of his struggle with ALS. In the spring of 2017 the family hosted a community-wide event called Soul Shine (bigskysoulshine.org), raising over $20,000 for causes supporting living a full life with ALS as well as the efforts of those working on a cure. Just two weeks ago, he marked his 56th birthday with a community concert raising funds for a Lone Peak High School service trip to Nepal.
Mark was born Nov. 30, 1961, in Forest Hills, New York, to Stanley and Pearl Robin. He was the third of four boys— Louis, Harold and Benjamin—and grew up in Hewlett, New York, where he graduated from Hewlett High School in 1979. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Columbia University in 1983 with a major in economics and a minor in creative writing. William Carlos Williams was his favorite poet because, like Mark, he was the kind of poet who was all about observing the ordinary. Mark’s poems also chronicled every day life in all its unvarnished, simple beauty and detail; Mark didn’t like flowery or overly poetic language.
He met his life partner, Jackie Roberts, in New York City in 1986, the year the Mets won the World Series. Their first date lasted three days; they married in 1990 at his family’s home in upstate New York. Before moving to Big Sky, they spent five years living in Venice Beach, California, where Mark worked at Beyond Baroque, a literary arts center. He resurrected and made profitable the small bookstore, helped facilitate a weekly poetry workshop and helped run the Friday night reading series. He participated in many poetry readings and had a series of retail-themed haiku published in the LA Weekly. A recent highlight for Mark was reading one of his poems on stage at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center before the Billy Collins reading a couple of years ago.
Mark was fortunate to be attended in his illness by his incredibly devoted, organized and tireless wife Jackie who made sure his life was full even as his disease took everything but his brilliant mind. He was also surrounded by a devoted group of women and friends including Candice Brownmiller, Tracy Jacobson, Curly Shea and many others.
His sons Andrew, Micah and Howie were by his side throughout his illness, coming home from college and jobs to care for him. Their home was also filled with a succession of family and friends who came from all over the country and the world to spend time with Mark.
Mark is survived by his wife Jackie, three sons, Andrew, Micah and Howie, his three brothers and their wives, Louis and Ruth, Harold and Cyndy, Benjamin and Stacy, by his brothers and sisters-in-law, Jennifer and Clark, Alex and Julie, Andy and Liz; and his devoted mother-in-law Peggy Roberts and father-in-law Jack Roberts and his wife, Carol, as well as numerous beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, and countless friends.
Mark Robin passed away Dec. 18. A memorial service was held Dec. 21 at the Big Sky Chapel followed by internment at Sunset Hills Cemetery in Bozeman. A celebration of life will be held Friday, Dec. 22 from 2-5 p.m. at The Rainbow Ranch Lodge in Big Sky.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to be made in Mark’s name to any non-profit organization in Big Sky, Team Gleason, or Congregation Beth Shalom of Bozeman.