OBITUARY

Mark Trevor Simmons

April 30, 1960August 31, 2015
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On August 31st, 2015, Mark Trevor Simmons passed away at St. David’s Hospital in Austin, TX due to complications from battling Leukemia. He was 55 years old.

Son of Jill and John Simmons, Mark grew up in Falmouth, England where he first discovered his passion for flying at an early age. He served as a pilot for the British Royal Air Force and later the Mission Aviation Fellowship, an Australian non-profit that flies for disaster relief and other humanitarian efforts.

He first received a bachelor's in environmental science from the University of Lancaster in the United Kingdom, and then moved with his first wife and two daughters to South Africa. Here he accomplished both a bachelor's and master's degree in botany from the University of Cape Town, which was also where he was blessed to meet a soon to be best friend and his eventual loving wife of 18 years.

Mark’s dedication to his family and interests eventually brought him to the United States, where in 2000 he began his life’s work at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and received his doctorate in rangeland ecology and management at Texas A&M University in 2003.

A dynamic leader, Mark led research and design projects at the Wildflower Center focused on restoring landscapes and urban green spaces to improve their environmental benefits. Among his research accomplishments were the most comprehensive study of the impact of commercial vegetated roofs, developing a turf of native grasses for Texas and nearby states that requires less water and chemical inputs than traditional lawns, demonstrating the value of prescribed fires for controlling non-native plant species and restoring landscapes, and developing a medium for green roofs made of all-sustainable materials and native plants.

Mark also led more than a dozen environmental design projects that transformed hundreds of acres of landscapes, including the 23-acre George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, the 8-mile-long Mission Reach restoration project in San Antonio, the Southwest Greenway in Austin's Mueller Park, and the landscape master plan at The University of Texas at Austin. His group led workshops on projects such as restoration plans for national park landscapes in five states.

He taught university and professional courses on ecological landscape design and restoration ecology at The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University. He sat on several technical committees including the Landscape Architecture Foundation and the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES™). In November 2013, he received a national research award for advancing the profession from the American Society of Landscape Architects, after he was recognized that May by the society's Texas Chapter for his impact on environmental awareness and policy. Mark was passionate about the role that landscapes can play in improving our lives, particularly in urban environments. In November 2013, he delivered a TEDx talk on the topic. One of his goals was to bring prairies into the city, and he worked toward the day that our cities would be home to the largest expanse of Blackland Prairie, a highly endangered ecosystem.

Mark is survived by his four children, Hannah, Emily, Jacob, and Luke Simmons; his wife, Deborah Mann; and his siblings, Alison Harris, Paul Simmons, and Helen Kessell.

He will be remembered as an ecological leader, an inspirational father, and a dear friend to many

In lieu of flowers, the family would like contributions to be made in Mark's memory to one or more of the following options: 1) A new outdoor research classroom at the Lady Bird Johnson Wild Flower Center (contributions can be made by contacting Jesse Greendyk at jgreendyk@wildflower.org or 512-585-3981). 2) The Margaret Bamberger Education Fund (http://bambergerranch.org/donate-to-bamberger-ranch-preserve/) 3) The Challenge Air charity (an aviation organization helping critically ill children or children with disabilities through private flying experiences): http://www.challengeair.org/.

REMEMBERING

Mark Trevor Simmons

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Richard Scott

April 8, 2016

I was very sad to find out Mark was no longer with us.

It was a shock to find out, as i was just checking his phone number to give him a ring from the National Wildflower Centre here in Liverpool, and was greatly saddened not to be able to call him. Or meet him again.

He was a charming guy and all the times we met, the last time in Berlin, we had great discusions and looked forward to collaborations, sadly we never quite pulled off. But I will remember the ideas and aspirations we spoke of and carry them still.

A great spirt and a great ecologist.

Carole Jordan

November 4, 2015

What a dynamic guy! I have had the pleasure of sharing several meals with Mark over the years. He could engage fellow diners so well with his wit and curiosity about all things. He brought us all to believe so strongly in the mission of the Ecosystem Design Group. Let's all honor him by keeping his spirit in mind as we carry on.

Brian Gardiner

October 14, 2015

It was a pleasure to work with Mark on the Wildflower Center's green roofs. Several of us dream of changing the planet, Mark actually did so in the short time he was here. He combined the unique formula of a brilliant ecologist who could easily make you laugh with that twinkle in his eye. My memories of Mark will give me comfort for my remaining life.

Mike Cullender

October 5, 2015

We have lost a great guy way too soon. I think Mark was happiest when her had his controlled burn gear on, so I'll remember him that way. My heart goes out to his family.

Steve Windhager

October 4, 2015

Sandra West

October 3, 2015

Science teachers who graduated from Tx. State University will miss him. He often joined my field trips to share his passions and inspire future science teachers. He certainly will be sorely missed by many. My prayers are with his family.

LM

October 2, 2015

I can't stop looking at the photos. All I hear is your laugh behind that infectious smile. The silly Mark that I knew. The forever supportive Mark. I miss you......

Rose seeger

September 21, 2015

So sorry to hear about Mark I would ask him for advice about habitat and green roofs . He was always happy to help . it's very sad that you've lost such a wonderful person and a brilliant mind.

Susan Sander

September 20, 2015

It was such a shock to hear of Mark's passing. We had chatted at the Bamberger Ranch Preserve in January about the role of small nature centers in urban settings as refugia/genetic seed banks of native plants. I will miss his voice - so full of reason and passion. Take care Deborah.

Nan Hampton

September 19, 2015

My deepest sympathy to Mark's.family. I only just learned of his passing and feel very sad to know that he is no longer with us. As a volunteer at the Wildflower Center with Ask Mr. Smarty Plants I frequently asked Mark for advice on how to answer questions. He always responded quickly with wonderful insights into the solutions to the questions. I will miss his wise advice and, above all, his friendly manner. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.