A Great Loss to Green Lake

The sudden passing of Charlie Marks on Friday, January 4th, 2019, was a tremendous loss to the Green Lake Sanitary District. The administrator of the GLSD for 22 years, Charlie accepted the administrator position in 1996, moving his family to the area from Waukesha. Though Charlie’s background was in business and utilities, he was a fast learner in the field of natural resources. He had a passion for the outdoors which inspired his work at the GLSD.

It was through Charlie’s efforts that the Green Lake Sanitary District has received over $2 million in DNR grant funds for the protection of the lake. Since 2012, the Green Lake Sanitary District, has cost-shared well over 110 BMP’s in the Big Green Lake watershed. These efforts alone have saved over 500 tons of soil from the lake. Additionally, during Charlie’s tenure, the GLSD acquired 13 Conservancy properties for the benefit of the lake and the taxpayers of the Green Lake Sanitary District. Charlie was an integral part of the protection of Big Green Lake for many years.

Charlie was known as a great communicator; he loved to talk about his family and the lake. His phrase, “Give me one minute..” should have been trademarked. He didn’t just sit behind a desk; he loved being in the field. He made sure the tough jobs around the lake got done. Whether it was cutting buckthorn, water sampling, or scuba diving in the K Marsh to inspect the carp barrier, Charlie did it all. For that and so much more, he will be greatly missed.

Born in Waukesha WI, Charlie graduated from Waukesha South High School where he met the love of his life, Cathy Wichser. In 1981, Charlie graduated from Marquette University as cum laude of his class with a degree in business. He and Cathy married a year later in Waukesha. He had been employed by the Wisconsin Electric Power Company for 15 years when he accepted a job as Administrator of the Green Lake Sanitary District. He moved his family to Berlin initially and later into their dream home on Little Hills Lake in Wautoma. Charlie thoroughly enjoyed his position in Green Lake; he had a passion for his job and a love of the lake. He became an accomplished grant writer for the district. Over the years, the grants he acquired helped protect critical lands around Green Lake, restore shorelines and fish habitat areas, as well as provided funding to install BMP’s throughout the Green Lake watershed.

In 2007 he was awarded the prestigious Caestecker Award for his dedication and contributions to the lake. This honor is given only to individuals who have exerted an exceptional influence on issues benefitting the Big Green Lake community. He truly loved his work and never looked at it like a job. He loved the connections and relationships he was able to form throughout the years. Charlie’s legacy of lake protection will live on through the programs, projects, and priorities he began at the GLSD. Charlie was well known for saying, “When I’m gone, I want people to say, ‘He was always willing to do what was right for the lake.’ ” That he did.

In honor of Charlie’s legacy, the Charlie Marks Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established at the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation (a 501-c-3 organization). This scholarship fund will assist graduating high school seniors from Berlin and Green Lake High Schools who are planning to pursue a degree in an environmental field. The recipients must be passionate about environmental issues such as water quality, and protection of lakes and rivers. Donations to the Charlie Marks Memorial Scholarship Fund can be given directly to the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation/Charlie Marks Memorial Scholarship Fund or you can donate online at www.oshkoshareacf.org/fund/charlie-marks-memorial-environmental-scholarship-fund/.