Mark Julian Saylor
(1954 - 2013)

Mark Julian Saylor

March 19, 1954

February 22, 2013

Guest Book
I was at the L.A. Times yesterday, and I spoke with a reporter who knew Mark well. We both agreed on this: Mark Saylor was special.

ross johnson (friend)
September 26th, 2013
I am a friend and client of Mark’s. We met one evening at a fabulous Malibu work party. He explained what he did, and as I knew one day that I would need to be call upon him most likely for clients of mine. I never imagined it would be me who one day would need his help.

And he was there for me.... Mark was a true warrior, a man who could be counted on when others could not. Mark had the biggest shoulders to lean upon. His wisdom, talent, loyalty, and intellect will never be forgotten in our minds and our hearts.

Although he definitely had edges to his personality, I too had edges and there was much mutual respect and understanding.

I owe him much gratitude as he was there for me through one of the most difficult times of my professional career as I faced what I call true evil and greed, to which we prevailed over.

I am heartbroken for his family. May god help you through this difficult time. We hope your sadness will one day turn into beautiful and precious memories.

Warmest regards,
Helen Yu & John Leseberg
Helen Yu (Friend)
July 10th, 2013
It's been a couple of months since Mark left us, and in that time, I now know how much I miss him.

I miss his daily quips about politics, values, stuff going on in Washington and other international capitals.

I miss his gentle-but-firm "encouragement" to garner new business for Saylor Company.

I miss his precise, astute - and most often, accurate - analysis of complex political, economic and human issues.

I miss his frequently indisputable definition of truth.

I miss his probing and sometimes stultifying questions.

I miss his professional challenges.

Put simply -as he liked -I miss Mark.

I realize now more than ever that he was a tremendous boss, a fascinating peer, and a dear friend.
Steve Ellis (Friend)
June 2nd, 2013
I was a senior at Harvard when Mark was a freshman. It was an amazing year for chess at Harvard -- there were six freshmen rated at Mark's level or above. We organized intramural chess teams, the first ever. My Currier House team played a match with Mark's Wigglesworth team; we played a long and dramatic game on first board, ending in a draw. I'm sorry to say we didn't cross paths again after that year. I am glad that he did so well in life, though it was too short.
Bruce Leverett (college friend)
April 30th, 2013
(A longer version of this article was originally published in a South Ossetian newspaper)

August 2008.

When the last bomb exploded in South Ossetia in August 2008, the Russian army entered our city and we emerged from our cellars. I could not believe my eyes-- my beloved city was destroyed.

But when the world spoke of what happened, mistruths were told: the “bad” Russians, people said, occupied the territory of the “good” Ossetians.

I called my friends in Moscow and asked advice. How could we bring the world to its senses? A well- known Russian had the solution: Mark Saylor. He immediately flew from Los Angeles to meet us.

Day and night we traveled across the whole of South Ossetia. Mark managed to meet many victims, to see everything with his own eyes.

Two weeks later we met again with Mark in Moscow. He proposed a plan for his PR agency to help us tell our story to the world: to place articles in the most popular American newspapers, to create two English-language information sites devoted to our events and to bring a group of women to the USA.

Soon there were stories about the August events in such newspapers as The Christian Science Monitor and The Washington Post. And there were created two information sites, and where we placed many photos and video materials about the events of August, 2008.

Then it was time for us women to enter “the fight”.

Mark Saylor and his staff met us at the airport. Mark looked monumental. He was a tall, large man with a calm look. He spoke quietly, but clearly and expressively. Mark's confidence and tranquility gave hope to all of us.

During the first day of meetings with Mark's colleagues, we were taught how to express our thoughts shortly and accurately, not deviating from a subject. We were given a list of the planned meetings: it included the editor of the major newspapers and the offices of senators and public organizations.

We were given a list of possible questions. We were warned that in most instances, a 15 minute meeting had been arranged but if we were not interesting or credible we might be told that they were in a hurry for an important meeting and in three minutes the meeting would be finished.

Mark prepared us so well that our shortest meeting lasted 30 minutes and we had meetings up to 50 minutes!

During all meetings, everywhere and always, Mark was with us. When we left America, Mark told to us at parting: “I am very proud of our work. Thank you!”

Actually we felt that Mark was not simply performing his work. We felt he respected our grief, and understood the soul of the Ossetian people.

In April last year I was told that Mark Saylor was incurably sick. When I was invited to lecture on conflict science at George Mason University and the University of California Irvine, I accepted the invitation without giving it a second thought. After all, the Lord gave me the chance to visit the great friend of our Ossetia.

Mark was happy, when I wrote him about our possible meeting. He wrote: “Lira, I hope to try once again your incomparable Ossetian pies. I can't forget them.”

I got to Mark's house on Thanksgiving Day. All his family and closest friends gathered at the table. I served my Ossetian pies and we remembered the events of 2008. When I finished my story, Mark told his children how proud he was of the work he had done with us.

LIRA KOZAEVA (Founder of the Association of South Ossetian Women for Democracy and Human Rights).
Lira Kozaeva (Friend)
April 10th, 2013

When I asked Zia what she thought I should tell you about her dad, she said, “Make sure they know he was a good person.” She thought for a moment and said, “Well, everybody knows that.”
Mark believed life is an adventure.

He constantly tried new things, which explains why we had two sauerkraut crocks, each able to hold nine heads of cabbage. It also explains why we have a collection of fedoras as well as doo-rags.

When Mark asked me to marry him, he said that in relationships and in life, it was essential to keep moving forward.

In our marriage, Mark pushed me to be braver and bolder and better, to take on challenges I thought were beyond my reach.

Mark was not afraid to reinvent himself, leaving journalism, starting his own business. When he tired of chess, he played Go in smoky game halls in Koreatown, not caring that no one spoke English. He painted, he did collages. He discovered Matzo – and I don’t mean as a food but as an accessory for his paintings.

After Mark learned he had cancer, he told me, “I will never want to leave you.”

He worried about the kids. “I thought I had more time,” he said.

For the kids, he wanted them to take risks and not be afraid to fail. This fall, Zia ran for student council and lost. When she ran again this spring, she won. Dad was so proud – because she rebounded from a defeat. That was the Saylor way.

Make sure, he said, the kids know that life should be an adventure.

Nora Zamichow (Wife)
March 19th, 2013
Lessons from dad:

• How to ride waves

• How to turn everything into a competition… and I mean EVERYTHING.

• The importance of learning about, and appreciating, other cultures

• How to cook a turkey in the smoker

• The trick to getting others to take your trash

• How to play scrabble and boggle (and how to obnoxiously celebrate when I win)

• He would have taught me to play chess, if I wasn’t too chicken to learn from the master.

• How to walk on stilts

• On the lacrosse field if I don’t get a yellow card, then I’m not being aggressive enough

• How to drive a car

• He reinvented himself, and taught me that’s okay

• Ron dies… oh wait, he doesn’t. So I guess the lesson here is don’t always trust what people say to you, especially when you’re reading Harry Potter competitively.

• Don’t sweat the small stuff

• Duct tape fixes everything

“Be the boss of your own world”

Dad managed to marry TWO extraordinary women- my mother, Martha, and my wicked evil step-mom, Nora. Both loved my father very much, and love all four of us kids. He died too young, but at least he left us with two parents who won’t let us forget him and who will be there for all of us. So, thanks for that dad.
Katie Saylor (Daughter)
March 19th, 2013
Mark was my older brother. He was epic in my life. And to find words to say goodbye I had to reach back to a roman poet, Catullus, who also lost his brother unjustly young. When I read his words, they felt right to me: words that were strong enough to fit Mark.

Mark journeyed first through life, the person who lead the way for me. And what I realized, and what I told Mark before he died, is that I always thought he was so brave. Though he may not have felt brave, he seemed fearless and never let his fears stop him from doing things, which is a struggle I always have. So for me, he is epic, in his own way, with his own bravery and own intelligence and own leadership. It was so important for me to witness someone who could be strong, and brave, and smart, and a leader. Mark showed me what being an adult might be like.

We also laughed a lot and ate potato chips and watched bad TV and fought and wrestled and did all the things brothers do growing up together.

In the days of Catullus, the offerings for the dead would have been wine, honey, milk, and flowers. For Mark it might have been wine, too, (times haven’t change too much in that regard), but also grilled meats, fries, and burgers. Marked loved to grill, by the way.

This poem is for Mark.

Gaius Valerius Catullus (ca. 84 BC – ca. 54 BC)

Journeying over many countries,
Many seas, I’ve come, my brother,
To perform this last, sad rite,
A final gift for the dead. I speak
Vainly, to silent ashes; fortune
Has taken away your real self –
Cruelly snatched away, my brother.
Accept these offerings – my own
Sad tributes, ancestral customs –
As a funeral sacrifice.
Take them, wet with a brother’s tears,
And oh my brother, hail and farewell, for ever.

Translated by Humphrey Clucas,
Versions of Catullus, (1985).
David Saylor (Brother)
March 18th, 2013
The One
By Zia Saylor
You're the bright side to every day,
The flip side to a coin,
You give me the wings to fly,
You catch me if I fall.
You're the one lost in the future,
Buried in the past,
Can't seem to find you though,
You're right off the map.
Zia Saylor (Daughter)
March 12th, 2013
These are the remarks I read at Mark’s memorial service.
I’m Mike Hiltzik, and I know I’m facing the same question that so many of us here today are trying to answer: How to you say farewell to somebody who changed your life?
I’m gong to start by remembering the first time I met Mark, which is a little murky since we spent so much time together over the years. but of course it was in the newsroom, and Mark had just come in as editor of the entertainment pod up in business.
And you knew right off, he was something different. He had that intellectual self-confidence that stood out, and he didn’t seem, well, 100 percent deferential to those who maybe he thought weren’t quite as devoted to doing things right, and doing things that were right, as he was. But we all came to know that when you sat down to talk out a story, or to brainstorm, there was this guy at the other side of the table who was value added. That you could come to him with your doubts or your questions—you’d heard something and you didn’t know what to make of it. You didn’t know if it was important enough to go in the story or where. You weren’t sure how far to push it or whether to drop it. You always trusted Mark’s judgment like it was second nature. He would always want to help you work some tough question out, and you’d go on this journey together that would end at an answer.
And I’ve had a lot of good editors in my life, and they’re rare, and they’re always a blessing, but after I got to work with Mark he was the touchstone. It’s hard to describe fully what I learned from him about how a great editor works, and even more, how a great editor creates and nurtures a team and builds teamwork and friendship, because that is one thing Mark was so great at. During the period I worked most closely with Mark I was also working on a project that had as its central figure one of the great managers of a research team ever, and it was fascinating to contemplate how much these two leaders had in common-- the way they would create this solidarity in their group by coming in every day and going around and touching every member of the team, finding out what they were working on and where they were and what they needed and where they needed to go with it.
Both of them did the same thing for their people of acting as a shield against the outside and the upstairs, and they were both willing to take hits for their team so their people could do the best work they could. And Mark took hits for us that I’m sure we didn’t even know about at the time. I also remembered what one of those other team members told me—this was one of the inventors of the personal computer--when I asked about that great manager who had led the work and he said, “If you’re looking for the magic, it was him.” And I think that describes the impact Mark had on us as well as anything.
Of course, the most important thing Mark ever did for me was to put me together with Chuck Philips. I still remember the that day, when he called me into our conference room up on the third floor and he said, this is Chuck, who has a great story and I want you to help with it. The story was that the Grammies were being run out of the back pocket of a guy named Michael Greene who was paying himself an outrageous amount of money to run what was supposed to be a charity, but no one knew how much was going out to sick and aged musicians, they just knew a lot more was coming in than was going out, and it was coming from the record labels who were feeling held up at gunpoint.
Mark figured that with Chuck’s incredible sources in the music industry—and I’ve never known anyone who knew anything about his subject as Chuck did about the music industry—and my experience rooting around in documents and stuff, we might be a pretty powerful combination. But that wasn’t a particularly obvious conclusion. Not a lot of people would have seen that. Maybe no one. But Mark did.
The stories wouldn’t have happened without Mark. Here we were, targeting one of the most powerful men in the entertainment industry, and in a situation like that you’re never quite sure where you stand. But Mark was there for us every day. Every nugget we unearthed, we knew we could take to him because there was this incredible feeling of trust we had, and there was his resolve to know every bit as much about our investigation as we did, so he cold be there for us, so whenever we had doubts, or questions about where we should go with this thing or that, he was there to work it out with us. And he instilled this determination in us, that we wanted this story to be not just good, but perfect, not really just to please him, but because it was the right thing to do. And it was his feeling, that this story had to be timed just right, so it would drop the Sunday before the Grammies for maximum impact. And he made sure that happened.
People don’t realize the context of all this, that Mark was running a sort of skunk works up there in our little corner of business. We weren’t the paper’s big investigative team, we didn’t have 10 or 15 people working on a single series—not that there’s anything wrong with that—but we were a small group doing our jobs, and when the jobs were done we’d have these stories and take them to the page one editors and say “Here it is, take it.” And they hadn’t even known it was in the works. I was reminded when Evelyn Iritani sent me an email asking if I had photographs of Mark from the Pulitzer ceremony at the paper after we won for the Grammies, that we didn’t have a ceremony. There was a megaproject or two that the paper had wrapped up all its Pulitzer expectations in that year, and then out of the blue we won, and we were the only winners that year, and I remember Mark Willes in the newsroom grousing, “I hate the Pulitzers.” Mark and I caught each other’s eye as if to say, “excuse me, we’re right here.” But they didn’t throw us a party, or have us give speeches in the newsroom. But we ended up having to arrange our own ceremony, which we had that night at the Redwood, and it was great.

So the time came when he left the paper, but he didn’t go out of our lives, how could he? He and I would have lunch every so often, or talk on the phone. And then after he started his firm, and I was writing a column, he’d come to me from time to time with a story or with a client. And he almost always knew which clients or stories I could use, and which ones I’d see through—which isn’t to say that sometimes he’d come to me with a story and I’d have to say, Hey, Mark, it’s me. “We’d laugh it off and then he’d come to me with an idea I’d know it was worth taking a good look at.
The best way I can think of to sum up the effect Mark had on my life is to quote from a letter that a reporter of another era wrote to his editor on the occasion of the latter’s retirement. He wrote, “What you gave me was running room. It was a magnificent gift that I felt it every day. Running room was a matter of pride and obligation. We didn’t understand fully what it was, but we recognized daylight and went for it because that is where you were pointing. Daylight: news, the unexpected and surprising, and the daily folly and occasional generosity of mankind.”
I guess I’ve answered my own question. How do you say farewell to someone who changed your life—you don’t say farewell. You keep remembering him for the good he did and the lessons he taught you and the impact he had, and for me that will never go away.
Michael Hiltzik (friend and colleague)
March 9th, 2013
Mark and I first met in the late 1980s, when he came up from the San Diego Edition to be California politics editor in the Los Angeles city room.
We had both been city editors in San Diego, about 10 years apart, and we had worked for the same boss, Dale Fetherling, a dear friend to both of us.
I had just finished up a five-year sentence as L.A. city editor and was working as Real Estate editor when Dale called one day and said he was sending up one of his best guys, Mark Saylor.
“Mark can be abrasive,” Dale said, “and he doesn’t suffer fools gladly, but he’s a fine editor. Help him get squared away up there.”
A few days later a stranger stuck his head in my office. “I’m Mark Saylor,” he said. “You must be the washed-up, old city editor Dale told me about.”
Abrasive? Damn straight the boy could be abrasive!
And with that typically Saylorian insult setting the tone, we began our wonderful 25-year friendship. We tore into each other in every conversation, even at the end of his life. From his bed, he would rag me, and vice versa. Insults were our terms of endearment, I guess.
Given that Mark didn’t suffer fools, why we became friends is a mystery to me. Maybe he made an exception in my case. Who can say? I’m just glad he did.
Mark’s friends have talked today about his many facets and the qualities that endeared him to us—fierce loyalty, relentless curiosity, keen intellect, sharp wit, strong will. All true; but not the whole picture.
So I’ll offer what we call in the business a “For the Record,” a correction; or more like an addition, to the picture of the man we’re celebrating today.
I don’t know if any of you know it, but behind the high IQ and the Harvard degree there lurked a raunchy sense of humor, a dirty mind and a mouth to match. When Mark entered my office, it became the Tailhook Lounge, the site of many ribald, scatological bull sessions.
And when he traveled, Mark would bring me back the nastiest souvenir he could find. I must have four or five of them. Was I the only friend who saw this side? I don’t know. But to me it was part of his charm.
Mark and I had lunch together every few days for the last 10 years of our careers at The Times. We bonded over Europa Deli sandwiches. We’d walk to the deli, get our lunch and then eat in a little park hidden away off Spring Street.
I always ordered the $2 Special sandwich, a perfectly fine sandwich. But not Mark, oh no! He had to have a $4 or $5 sandwich, loaded with meat and cheese. But he always swore that the deli owner was shorting him on meat and we’d spend the lunch arguing over the perceived slight.
These weekly sandwich squabbles led to one of the funniest and most endearing moments of our friendship. I’ll tell it in a little story:
“The Date”
One day at lunch, as we argued over whether my $2 sandwich had more meat than his $5 sandwich, Mark announced that he was fed up with the deli. Next time, he said, I’ll bring lunch--for both of us.
A few days later, Mark comes by my office carrying a bulging shopping bag. “Hey, we’re gonna have a picnic!” I said, and off we went to the park.
As we walked down Spring Street, I slid over next to him and said, “Is this gonna be like a date?” Mark reached over and took my hand, held it for a few seconds and said, “Yes, honey, this is a date.”
And we both cracked up.
I’ll end with another of my favorite remembrances of Mark:
“The Chess Guy”
One day I was walking through the Times’ city room and I saw Mark looking over the shoulder of newspaper’s chess columnist, Jack Peters, as he worked on his column.
They seemed to be studying the miniature chessboard that Jack would set and talking about something he was writing.
Later that day, I bumped into Mark and braced him, in typical Saylor-Barnes fashion: “What the hell were you doing, bothering the chess guy?”
“I play,” Mark said casually, dropping the subject.
It wasn’t until his life, and our friendship, had come to its end and one of his fellow chess masters spoke at his memorial that I learned that Mark didn’t just “play,” he competed at the highest levels. He was a “chess guy” himself.
Such modesty in such an accomplished man; another part of his charm.
Mark left us far too soon, but he left us wonderful memories to cherish him by. The Europa Deli has been closed for years, but every time I eat a $2 sandwich, I’ll think of you, my friend.

Dick Barnes (friend)
March 7th, 2013
My remarks at Mark’s memorial service. I’m Jim Flanigan. Someone just said that Mark died too soon—indeed he did and that is why we’re talking out our sorrow.
I first met Mark in 1995 when he was joining the business staff as editor for the entertainment industry. I had lunch with him and thought this guy is really smart. Of course all men and women in the newspaper business are Renaissance persons. But Mark was different. He really knew things. He knew chess and Go. When other business staffers would bring in cookies and cake to share, Mark brought in South Indian dal. This guy had been around…
Mark was a great editor, he guided the Pulitzer Prize winning work of Mike Hiltzik and Chuck Philips and many others. And then he left before the paper was sold to the Chicago Tribune and he went on his own and turned out to be a good businessman-- truly a rarity among journalists. We heard he was setting up his own company.
I was talking to him and he suggested we have lunch in Pasadena. Well, I took cash out of the bank because I was determined to pay for the lunch, figuring the guy was probably down on his luck. But we no sooner sat down to lunch that he said “I have a client, Dubai…” “Your client is Dubai, no kidding?’ I responded wide eyed and stupidly…Perhaps we split the lunch…
But Mark was always like that, he had a grace about him, even in his terrible illness. When Nora asked me to the bedside dinner, Mark said to me “I was diagnosed in April. It’s a hard sentence to receive just like that…” And that’s all he said, nothing more, just determination and grace in adversity.
I brought him lyrics of Irish songs. Irish songs can be the saddest in the world. But there is joy in them, because they were sung for centuries by people who sang to get through abundant sorrows, to ease the sorrows. And so I will recite and sing a stanza or two of The Parting Glass, as an example and a lesson.
“Of all the money that ere I had, I spent it in good company,
And all the harm that ever I’ve done, Alas, it was to none but me,
And of all the comrades that e’er I had, They’re sorry for my going away,
And all the sweethearts that e’er I had, They’d wish me one more day to stay,
But since it falls, to be my lot,
That I should rise and you should not,
Then I gently rise and softly call,
Good night and Joy be with you all.”
If we give thanks for the joy of having known Mark, it will help us endure the sorrow of losing Mark.
Thank you.

james flanigan (friend)
March 6th, 2013

There is an inflatable moose head on my office wall at Saylor Company. Mark hated that moose and whenever I returned from a trip I half-expected it to be deflated or disappeared.

That moose was one of many things that Mark and I disagreed about. He liked big hunks of red meat, I’m a salad girl. He liked to get to the airport minutes before the airplane door closed, I liked being there with time for a latte or two. He thought "Bad Santa" was great moviemaking. I should have walked out of that one.

Mark was easy to love and hard to live with. And I mean that in the best of ways; not hard bad but hard complicated. If there was a simple way to do something, Mark looked elsewhere because he loved a challenge. In some ways, life was a big game to him and he grabbed it with gusto. No one knew that better than Nora and his children who he so adored.

Shortly after we met Mark and Nora at the LA Times, I came home from dinner with them exhausted.It occurred to me that Mark’s fierce intellect, his deep curiosity and skepticism and his sometimes brutal honesty meant that even a simple meal wasn’t a simple meal. It was more like a gourmet joust.

We went camping one spring at Joshua Tree with Mark and Nora and our kids. The wildflowers were blooming and it was beautiful. I’m thinking coffee, a nice morning stroll before it gets too hot and my favorite some mores over the campfire.

Mark had other ideas. We started the day with a brutal hike in the desert and a wildflower counting competition. I’m sure Mark won that one. We ended the day with a marshmallow roasting contest. In protest, I bowed out and roasted my marshmallow Peeps. Which for the record, came out nicely. However, I learned another lesson. Never give up with Mark because he won’t let you forget it.

But Mark was worth the work. He was funny and generous and fiercely loyal. He took care of his people, which is one of many reasons he was such a great editor and PR man. If I ever went into battle, I wanted Mark in my foxhole.

To be in Mark’s obit, was transformative. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve corresponded with in the past week – a human rights activist in South Ossetia, countless journalists, an old friend with a new career -- who talked about how Mark changed their lives. He certainly changed mine in big and small ways.

Several years ago, Mark was telling me a story about something– a speeding ticket, a disagreement with a soccer coach, the illness of his dog. I said “I’m sorry.” Mark looked at me with those piercing eyes and said, “Evelyn, why are you apologizing. You had nothing to do with it.”

Which led to a lengthy conversation about my Japanese American heritage, my maternal desire to fix everything and the meaning of sincerity.

I will never again say “I’m sorry,” without hearing Mark’s voice and smiling.

That – among many things – is his legacy.
Evelyn Iritani (Friend and colleague)
March 5th, 2013
It was my privilege to count Mark as one of my few very dear friends. We shared a lot, from a similar world view to a competitive spirit nearly unbounded. As a fellow chess Master, it was also my privilege and pleasure to share, at the memorial celebration, the tale of Mark conceiving of and organizing our chess team, which won a national championship in the mid 1990's. We three other players on that team will always cherish memories of our great victory--but none of it would have been possible without the vision, organizational skills, and superior chessplaying abilities of one Mark Saylor, a man of more skills than any one person might have a reasonable expectation of possessing or developing. All who knew him well were supremely fortunate.
Andy Sacks (Friend)
March 5th, 2013
I was asked to reproduce the talk I gave at Dad's ceremony. Here it is, complete with speaking notes.

"All must be for the best, in this best of all possible worlds .” The summer I was
16, our family went car camping for a few days in Kings Canyon National Park – with
the Ainsley/Iritani’s. And the entire trip, my Dad and I had a debate – which,
shockingly, was not an unusual experience for the two of us – about the quote "all must
be for the best, in this best of all possible worlds."

If you'll recall your 10th grade English classes, it's a quote from the 17th Century novel
“Candide” by Voltaire. If you don’t recall Candide, or 10th grade, or any English class
you’ve ever taken, I will summarize. The book follows the main character Candide
around on a series of misadventures, where lots of really bad stuff happens to everyone
he knows and loves – like, his hometown burns down after being struck by an
earthquake. And Candide’s companion on these journeys, Dr. Pangloss, is always in
Candide’s ear after all this really bad stuff happens. And Pangloss mercilessly says every
time something terrible happens: “but remember Candide, all must be for the best in
this best of all possible worlds.”

Voltaire, obviously, meant it sardonically. He wrote Candide as an argument
against a popular 17th century philosophy which stated – circularly - that because God
made everything, and God controls everything, therefore, everything you see around you
and everything that happens, must be the highest ideal……because God made it. And on
in circles. All must be for the best in this best of all possible worlds…because God made
it. Even if awful, terrible things happen, God made it happen, therefore it must be for
the best. That’s what Voltaire was poking fun at.

And, when Dad asked what I was reading in school, and I told him about Candide
and that quote, to my great surprise he said something like: oh yeah, I mean, all that
God stuff aside, this IS the best of all possible worlds…….this is it…….we are living in it
right now. I completely agree.

And I couldn't stand it. How could such a smart, thoughtful guy, my Dad, believe
something so simple and obviously unrealistic and unreasonable? Bad things happen
Dad! How can you say that? Voltaire wrote a whole book about how that’s circular and
wrong! God aside, how can a world where bad things happen to people that don’t
deserve it, be the best of all conceivable worlds?

But, with his knowing, wry, often infuriating grin – the grin that said “I know something
you don’t know,” ………..and I suspect MANY of you here today know what I am talking
about……… he insisted on it. My son, in fact, it must be true……You and I, are living,

right now, in the best of all possible worlds.

Eventually our “debate” devolved into us poking fun at each other. I know, shocking.


This wasn’t the only time that I wondered if Dad knew something I didn’t know. He
was the smartest guy I’ve ever known, and the most thoughtful. So I always wondered,
what motivated him? How did he get that shimmering confidence? What did he want
for himself? What did he want for me?

At various times during my life, I've tried all sorts of methods to try and figure out these
questions and more from Dad. I tried ignoring him. I tried obsessing over him.

He loved chess and Go and Boggle and puzzles which required him to think 10 steps
ahead and outmaneuver the other person while looking at the big picture of the board.
He loved examining - and sometimes manipulating - complex systems: politics, the
media, international affairs, the motivations of his clients and how he use that to
persuade them that they needed his PR services. Predicting how one move on one
corner of the board would affect some totally unrelated piece of the board. He loved
John Le Carre novels, and in another life, he would have been an excellent double

But more than any of these things, he loved winning and he loved watching his
opponent squirm. Dad had pictures of sharks and vipers in his office. He loved
debating, because he knew he was usually better armed than his opponent. He loved
manipulating the pieces on the board, and putting his plan into action. He loved seeing
another person intrigued in what he was saying not because they wanted to hear it, but
because they needed to hear it. I have these memories of a crowd sitting around a table
and watching that crowd be totally charmed by Dad. I wanted to harness and entrap
that crowd like he could. To riff off of what other people were saying…..and maybe
secretly poke fun at what they were saying…..and being acerbic and important and
charming and magnetic all at once.

This delight in making his opponent squirm may have sometimes extended to his
relationship with his kids. It was SOMETIMES difficult to determine how he was
feeling – emotionally – about certain things. He loved sarcasm and usually doled out a
generous helping of it when I asked how he TRULY felt about his work, or his clients, or
his ambitions. He kept that stuff pretty close.

There are few true fantastic mysteries in my life, but the mystery of who Dad was
and what motivated him, to succeed, to obsessively love the game of chess, to love
journalism and then to quit, to one day begin creating strange and magnificent artwork
out of matzo bread, to start his own business. Trying to figure out what motivated my
father was one of the last of those totally absorbing life mysteries. What motivated
someone so brilliant? How did he have that confidence? What did he fear? What did
he hope to accomplish and do and see? What else did he hope to know? Why did he do
what he did? Was it just random luck and chance? Did he just fall into things?

For someone who was always two steps ahead, on the chess board, I can't believe he
would leave it up to that. Or believe that was how it worked. Either way, he sure had
me - and I'm pretty sure a fair number of the rest of us - totally fooled. This was a guy
who finally could reassure me that there was a way to game the system. He knew a
secret and he wasn’t going to let the rest of his – much less his son – in on the answer.
What motivated him? Money? I doubt it, because he probably wouldn’t have been a
journalist ….. Was it just to be smarter than the next guy? Just to win?


I wrote a lot of the above last September, when we thought that Dad was going to die.
And he was lying exhausted from treatment in a hospital bed in hospice care at his
office at Walnut and Lake. He was barely strong enough to eat a banana a day, much
less answer my insistent probings about his life. I wrote it with a frustration of lost
opportunity, figuring I would never know Dad’s motivations or his secrets.


But then something remarkable happened. He didn’t die. He battled back. He started
eating more than just a banana a day. Big hot dogs, Plates of Chinese Food, an entire
box of donuts at one sitting, LOTS of Spicy Ramen Noodles. For those who don’t know,
it’s hard for me to undersell how much of a remarkable turnaround this was. He battled
back, even though it was probably easier to just to quit.

And when he battled back, I got my chance to spend some more time with him. And to
just sit and talk. And I saw how his friends came and sat with him and boasted of days
at the LA Times when Dad went in open revolt against anything and anyone he felt was
betraying the spirit of truth and journalism.

This fall I reminded Dad of “all must be for the best, in this best of all possible worlds.”
He smiled that wry grin from his hospital bed , but never revealed if he still believed it
or not. Here’s a guy who suddenly is diagnosed with brain cancer in his mid-50’s and he
still won’t admit that maybe everything isn’t for the best and maybe this isn’t the best of
all possible worlds? This just added to his mystery.


And in organizing my thoughts for this ceremony, about his life, about his death, I kept
coming back to that debate.

And I realized that I totally missed what Dad was trying to say to me when he insisted
that this was the best of all possible worlds. Dad wasn't saying he believed in God, or
that everything was happy and good all the time. Or that I’d always feel good about
what I was doing. He was saying, if I do my best, there are no wrong choices. If I do
my best, and enjoy whatever I’m trying my best at, then this WILL be the best of all
possible worlds. And for Dad it was a given that he would pour everything he had into
whatever he was doing , wringing everything he could out of every experience - he
loved carefully plotting and taking big risks for the big payoff and telling the uproarious
story about his gamble at a big long dinner table……..and managing personalities for a
common goal – a Pulitzer Prize or a successful PR pitch………and finding just the right
word to bring ordinary sentences to life. For the way Dad lived his life, this was the best
of all possible worlds.

Everyone struggles to make sense of a world where bad things happen to people that
don't deserve it. The job promotion doesn’t fall to the one who works the hardest, cops
arrest the wrong guy and refuse to let him go, a brain tumor takes the life of a loved
one. In our debates, Dad accepted all these contradictions, while I dwelled on them. He

knew of all this bad stuff and knew that despite all of that, it was a requirement of living
to be engaged with this world. And to do your best even if some of this stuff was unfair.

And so maybe I think my quest to know him, to know what he figured out,
what propelled him, and what he WANTED for me, well, maybe that desire was
misplaced. Picking apart who he was and what motivated him and trying to derive
from that what he wanted for me, his son, well, that's NOT WHAT HE WOULD HAVE


He knew that imposing his choices and his values on us, his kids - that it would interfere
with our own adventure in discovering the world. Those adventures that he so enjoyed.
Giving us his instructions would interfere with the risk-taking and the encounters with
new things that he so loved. Just as long as you do your best.

And that was what he relished – that experience of testing himself while trying his best.


But I didn’t immediately get that, because it wasn’t his style to tell me, or any of his
children, what to do, or where to go to school, or who to love. By his example, he just
showed us to do our best and trust our own abilities and that would create each of our
own best possible worlds. And if we did that, he would be proud of us.

Through his life he showed this, and he rarely told it.

Show, don’t tell. I received a lot of those comments from Dad as he edited my college
application personal statement and my law school entrance essays. I'm sure many
of you in the audience who have had him as your editor remember these comments
too. Show, don’t tell. Dad knew the power of imagery and stories to tell a more effective

And it was in this showing that he had the singular impact that he did. Because of the
way he carried himself through his life, he was able to touch so many people.

There’s a famous line from Shakespeare: "Simply the thing I am, shall make me live."


And by the way, Dad would appreciate the irony of quoting “All’s Well that Ends Well”
at his funeral.


And at the risk of rewording Shakespeare – isn’t that the first rule of writing? Don’t
reword the greats? But now that I’ve mentioned the rule, I’m gonna go ahead and break
it – at the risk of looking foolish……. the literal words in that line are backwards as
applied to Dad. Again, “Simply the thing I am, shall make me live.”


The WAY that Dad LIVED made him what he was………And that is what all of us
gathered here remember and that is how he inspired us.

And he showed his children he loved us. The hikes in Eaton Canyon, taking each of
us aside one by one to find out what was going on in our lives. The family vacations.
He had our back and we knew it, regardless of the decisions we made. It was the most
comforting thing in the world, to walk in the door – home from school on Christmas
break, plop down on his overstuffed green couch, and have Dad ask me about my
life. And know that whatever I’d say, he’d be fascinated and proud and want to know
more. I felt so warm in those moments. His confidence was my confidence……I loved
that……God I’ll miss that.

But once the doctors found the tumor, he knew he couldn’t keep showing his kids the
way forever. So he told us what he was most concerned about. He had shown Ben,
Katie, and I - as best as he knew how - what it means to be in a family and what it means
to be a part of this one. He was concerned that he wouldn’t have the chance to fully
show Zia what that meant. He couldn’t give her what he’d given us.

So he told us to show her what it meant to be in the Saylor family, and to SEE that
EVEN when he was gone, she would feel like she had the support she needed to feel like
she can do whatever she wants………That’s all he was concerned about.

You were a wonderful teacher Dad. And we’ll never have your confidence and your wit
and your enthusiasm for life. WE won’t be able to show HER as well as you could. But
we’ll try our best. You showed us how to do that pretty well.
Sam Saylor
March 5th, 2013
I had the pleasure of working with Mark from Dubai to Mongolia. In the process, we became friends. I cherish the professional and business relationships we had. There was not much difference. As both a friend and a boss, Mark was passionate, probing, caring, thorough, devoted and committed.

A man of few unnecessary words, he was eloquent with the words he chose.

Not one to issue off-hand praise, the praise he offered was warm, sincere, and direct.

Never one to waste time, Mark knew how to separate work from relaxing.

Disdaining judging people, Mark could size up anybody rapidly, objectively, and pragmatically in a crisis situation and in life.

Business-like and to-the-point, Mark was tender and kind and loving to his family and friends.

A writer, an artist, an intellectual, a philosopher, a serious chess player, Mark loved fishing, shooting, driving, and hanging out.

He was a man of curiosity. He was a man of reflection. He was a man of charity. He was a man of prudence.

I'm going to miss him. I will never forget him.

Thank you, Mark, for coming into my life.

Steve Ellis (Friend, Co-worker)
March 1st, 2013
16 entries
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"Thinking of you Mark. Will keep making it hot for them. Gone but never forgotten. See you on the other side (later, rather than sooner :) Cheers, Jason"
Jason Booth
April 21st, 2015
"After many years out of touch with Nora, I woke up in the middle of the night with a strong impulse to Google her. It was the first anniversary of Mark's death, a man I never knew, her husband. I'm so sorry, Nora, for your loss; so glad you had him"
Jennifer Nash Flower
January 23rd, 2015
"Mark was remarkable. One of a kind and so laser sharp in his analysis and viewpoints. I have rarely met a person whose judgment I so trusted as Mark's. You are truly missed."
Helen Yu
July 10th, 2013
"When I met Mark, I thought he is doing exactly what he should be doing and probably doing it much better than the rest of us doing whatever we do. He was impressive and thoughtful. I am very sorry for his family for this devastating loss."
Bruce Talley
March 3rd, 2013
"Good bye, my friend. I will face no adventure anywhere in the world without thinking of you."
Steve Ellis
March 1st, 2013


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