Mark Satkiewicz remembered as loving family man, innovative business leader and passionate cyclist
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Mark Satkiewicz is being remembered by family and friends as a loving father, devoted husband and innovative business leader.
“Mark was one of the most driven, loyal and devoted friends you will ever have,” said longtime friend Luke Boland, who met Satkiewicz during his senior year of high school, while fighting back tears. “I can’t thank him enough for being in my life and being a part of my life. I know I’m a better person because of our friendship.”
Satkiewicz was cycling Saturday on Routt County Road 82 in North Routt when he suffered a heart-related incident, according to Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg. He died at the scene. He is survived by his wife, Amy; daughter, Olivia, 19; daughter, Mia, 13; his father Kenneth; mother Lenore; and sister Julie Williams.
This week, Satkiewicz is remembered as a kind, generous businessman who joined the staff at Smartwool in 2007 as vice president of sales and was promoted to president and chief executive officer in 2009. He left the company in 2017 to take a position as general manager of Toms in Los Angeles, but he and his family would return to Steamboat Springs less than two years later.
“He held himself to the highest standards, and he pushed us all to be the best that we could possibly be in both our careers and our personal life,” said Jennifer McLaren, who worked for Satkiewicz at Smartwool and was promoted to president and CEO of the company in 2018. “He challenged us, but at the same time, he was there in a caring way to really help and support us.”
Satkiewicz was an innovative leader who pushed for fairness, inclusion and a community vibe in the workplace.
“Mark’s passion was for living a life full of activity in this great mountain community,” McLaren said.
McLaren said Satkiewicz was a mentor, and she remained in touch with her former boss.
“I always say that he had an amazing competitive spirit,” she said. “He is one of the most competitive people that I know, but he also had the biggest heart.”
Carly Davidson, who was an executive assistant at Smartwool for eight years said Satkiewicz cared for everyone he came into contact with. She said Satkiewicz created a culture at Smartwool that provided gender equity, and he took a genuine interest in his employees’ lives, successes and accomplishments both at work and outside the office.
“He wanted to be there for those big moments,” Davidson said. “He would always be there to celebrate those milestones with you and tell you how proud he was of you.”
Boland and Satkiewicz attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where they were roommates during their freshman year of college. The two remained lifelong friends, and Boland was best man at Mark and Amy’s wedding nearly 22 years ago.
“We’re supposed to ride together today,” Boland said Thursday, “There were four of us meeting to go on the ride, so the three of us went ahead and did the ride without him, because we were afraid if we didn’t do it he would be calling us names.”
Craig Keefe said his friendship with Satkiewicz grew out of a common love for the Chicago Bears, Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Blackhawks.
“Mark and I are both Chicago guys, so we kind of instantly connected on being from the Chicagoland area before transplanting to Steamboat,” Keefe said. “We developed a great friendship built around our love of Chicago’s sports teams and just our love of the outdoors and Steamboat.”
Keefe said his friend inspired him to train for and compete in triathlons despite the fact the two men were at different levels in terms of their ability.
“He definitely impacted me and was a big reason I got into triathlons and training,” Keefe said. “He was exponentially better than me, but he would spend time with me talking about training and different approaches to running, cycling and swimming.”
But the two men’s friendship went beyond the seat of a bike and wasn’t based in the world of business, either.
“I just got to know Mark a little differently than other people, because we were more connected outside of his professional life,” Keefe said. “We were able to really be friends for no reason.”
Satkiewicz may have grown up in Chicago, but he embraced the Steamboat lifestyle even before arriving in the mountains of Northwestern Colorado. Amy said her husband worked for a year in finance before leaving his job and moving to Sun Valley, Idaho, to became a ski bum. He remained there for two years where he worked in a Mexican restaurant, snowboarded and got his first taste of triathlons. His competitive spirit drove him to become a world-class triathlete and elite level cyclist.
The family is planning to hold a private, invitation-only memorial service with a few close friends and family members Friday, and because of COVID-19, the celebration of life was limited in numbers.
Amy is hoping to hold a more public memorial service sometime in the future possibly connected to the SBT GRVL race that Satkiewicz helped launch in 2019 along with business partners Amy Charity and Ken Benesh. Getting that event off the ground was a source of pride for Satkiewicz. This year’s SBT GRVL event will be held virtually Aug. 16.
“He was elated by it and thrilled with what he created,” co-founder Ken Benesh said. “All of his friends in Steamboat, even the ones that were not into gravel, had to hear about it all the time.”
Benesh said it was hard for Satkiewicz, a guy that had worked for Nike, Smartwool and Toms, to hide his pride for a race that drew more than 1,500 riders and included a large women’s field.
“He knocked it out of the park, and we hit all of our goals in the first year,” Benesh said.
The Satkiewicz family has set up the Mark Satkiewicz Memorial Fund in partnership with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. The fund will be used to provide gear and resources to young people who may otherwise be unable to participate. The funds may be used to provide a bike, ski rentals or lessons.
“Mark was a loving parent, a devoted husband and a rock as a friend,” Boland said. “He will be missed for as long as I’m around. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but I will think of him every time I get on a bike.”
Satkiewicz’s legacy will live on through his wife, Amy, daughters Mia, who is in eighth grade at Steamboat Springs Middle School, and Olivia, who is entering her sophomore year at Texas Christian University.
Amy said she will miss the partnership she shared with her husband, and she will miss the love and support he offered as she chased her goals and passions. His daughters said they will miss their dad’s sometimes goofy personality, his sarcasm and his ability to give them a hard time along with unconditional love and support.
“He would take you on the most fun trips and most fun adventures,” Mia said. “He loved us so much, and he cared about us more than anything in the world, and he would do anything for us.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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