Cover photo for Mark Halperin's Obituary
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1940 Mark 2018

Mark Halperin

February 19, 1940 — July 13, 2018

Mark Halperin, a resident of Ellensburg for over fifty years, passed away on July 13, 2018 at the age of 78. He was born in New York City, received a degree in physics from Bard College, and went on to the University of Iowa to complete his MFA in Creative Writing. He put himself through college working as a microscope technician.

At Iowa, he met his wife Barbara ("Bobbie") who was getting a master's degree in painting. After graduation in 1967, he accepted a job from the English Department at Central Washington State College, making Ellensburg their permanent home. Mark taught literature, composition and creative writing for 36 years until his retirement in 2004. During his years at Central he published five books of poetry from major presses, while publishing hundreds of poems in magazines across the country, establishing a national reputation. His first book, Backroads, won the 1975 United States Award of the International Poetry Forum. Subsequent books were A Place Made Fast, The Measure of Islands, Time as Distance, and Falling through the Music. One of Mark's favorite poets, William Stafford, wrote that Mark's poems "do not live by extracting power from what is already achieved, but by themselves contributing to something on-going. Halperin writes in the presence of earlier literature, and he contributes to that company by being himself worthy of it." Norman Dubie, another famous American Poet, wrote that Halperin's poems "are unusual for our times, they seem obligated to tell, with an imagery largely sensitive to movement and light, just what it is like to be gentle and care for life." Halperin also co- wrote, with Joseph Powell, a textbook on poetry called Accent and Meter.

Mark and Bobbie raised their son, Noah, on their property on Highway 10. Noah was the delight of their lives. Noah and his wife Shelley have two children, Sarah (age 14) and Adam (age 12), who became one of the central joys of their retirement. Mark was an avid fly fisherman and after retirement, he spent many hours fishing the Yakima River as well as local lakes and streams several times a week. He was keenly interested in fly fishing equipment and wrote many articles about fly patterns, fishing different lakes and streams, vises, and improved tying techniques. He liked to joke that he made more money writing about fishing than he ever did writing poetry. Fishing and fly-tying was a passion that sustained him.

Mark's father emigrated from Russia, and learning his father native language was an accomplishment he took pride in. Mark taught in Estonia, Russia as well as the Ukraine. He and Dinara Georgeoliani also translated poems and short stories from Russian into English, publishing them in many in major magazines, as well as a book of poems called A Million Premonitions by Victor Sosnora. Mark and Bobbie were enthusiastic travelers visiting Mexico, Italy, Japan, Russia, Portugal, Sicily, France and Greece. They loved visiting museums, fine dining and trying out the wines of the region.

Mark was preceded in death by his mother and father. He is survived by his wife, Bobbie; son Noah (wife Shelley); grandchildren Sarah and Adam; and his sister Diane (Greg) Sullivan. Memorial contributions in Mark's honor are suggested to Hospice Friends, 302 S. Main Street, Ellensburg. Steward & Williams Funeral Home and Crematory has been entrusted with the arrangements. Online condolences may be left for the family at

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