Phi Kappa Sigma

Mark E. Kirchner ’48

Mark E. KIRCHNER On December 21, 2010, Mark E. Kirchner died peacefully at his home on Mercer Island. He was 84. He is survived by his wife Mary Lu, sons Scott and Brad Kirchner and daughter, Terri Patoto, her husband, Tony and four grand-children Caitlin, Michael, Madison and Finlay Patoto. He was born in Hampton, VA. He attended high school in Great Neck, NY where, he was an Eagle Scout, played clarinet, and ran in track. Mark earned his Bachelors and Masters in Aeronautical Engineering at MIT in 1949. He loved to fly. He had a licenseto fly airplanes, gliders and helicopters. Mark gave glider flight training to Air Scouts around 1953. He brought his fiancé, Mary Lu, on dates, stunt-flying in his open cockpit airplane. They celebrated 53 years of marriage this past April. Mark worked at Boeing for close to 40 years, starting as an engineer, and moving into management. He retired in 1988. In 1980, he formed The Flight Research Institute. This allowed Boeing engineers to use Boeing computers to do innovative off-hours work, like man-powered flight research. In 1981, with nine other Boeing employees, Mark built a stunt, biplane which still flies today. Mark was assigned as Boeing’s Director of Engineering Technology for the Commercial Airplane Group in 1983. Mark represented Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed when he testified before Congress on the methods of improving wind shear safety. During retirement, he enjoyed everything from sailing trips, to building a high performance Lancair plane in his basement and especially to guiding his grandkids in shop projects. Mark’s community involvement ranged from being elected to Mercer Island’s first city council in 1960 to being elected Chairman of the Board of the Museum of Flight in 1997. Mark’s love of life and doing things well is evident in his accomplishments, but more importantly in the legacy of a family that was all together during his last months to support him and each other. Mark was surrounded by his family until his last moments when he passed away peacefully into the loving arms of his Heavenly Father. A memorial will be held at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church, 3605 84th Ave, Mercer Island, on Friday, January 21st, at 1:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Evergreen Hospice, 12822 124th Lane NE, Kirkland, WA 98034. Sign Mark’s on-line Guest Book at