Mark Treske, former assistant editor of the Freeport Baldwin Leader and the Wantagh Seaford Citizen, died at his home in Valley Stream on Nov. 8 after a long battle with cancer. He was 59.
Friends and family describe Treske as a man who loved sports, history and music and had a big heart, great dignity and a quick wit. He was dedicated to his job, his family and the Freeport Merrick Rotary Club, where he “worked tirelessly for 25 years,” Sam Iandiorio, a co-president of the club, said. “Mark passionately believed and understood that every little good deed you do in the world matters,” said Christopher McBride, a friend and fellow Rotarian.
Treske was born on Nov. 19, 1957, in Kansas City, and grew up in San Diego. He attended the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he studied German literature and language. He was fluent in German, and began his journalism career at the journal Aufbau in New York City before going to work for L&M Publications in Merrick. He was an ad salesman in Freeport and then an editor of the Leader and the Citizen. He briefly worked as the Freeport, Wantagh and Seaford editor of the Herald Community Newspapers before he retired due to illness.
“Mark was much loved in the Freeport and Baldwin communities served by the Leader newspaper and the Wantagh and Seaford communities served by the Citizen newspaper,” Linda Toscano, former publisher of those publications, said. “He immersed himself in the paper and in the lives of the people who lived in his community.”
Treske believed that newspapers exist to serve the community. He referred to reporters as “truth tellers,” and encouraged anyone working with him to pursue unfettered inquiry. “He worked hard to give equal attention to every story,” Toscano said, “from a major crime to a weekly garden club meeting.”
He was an avid sports fan who loved the Mets and the San Diego Chargers, and “He had a mind for all kind of sports trivia, past and current,” stepdaughter Grace Castells said. He especially loved baseball, and believed the game provided children with lessons on teamwork, competition and decision-making. On one visit to Chicago to see Castells and her daughter, Maya, his first grandchild, he got a ticket to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. “It rained, but his seat was fortunately under an overhang, so he didn’t get wet, but instead spent the day sipping beer and taking in the atmosphere of the stadium in between snippets of play when the rain abated,” Castells recalled. “He was there over nine hours, and years later, still recounted it as a fantastic day.”
Treske was a “big fan of British comedies like ‘Monty Python,’ a fan of ‘NCI’ and ‘Jeopardy,’ and was one of those rare brilliant people who knew all the answers,” Castells said. He was a history buff who read extensively on the Civil War and on Abraham Lincoln.
It was Treske’s love of music that led him to the love of his life. He met his future wife, Elaine, Treske at the Armand Sodero Chorale in Baldwin 30 years ago. “We just sang and sang and sang,” Elaine said. “He loved opera and choral music.”
The couple married on Feb. 21, 1988. “They married when I was 19, and I thought I didn’t need a father,” Castells said. “I was wrong. He always took his role very seriously, and has always been a supportive and wise counselor, and he got Mom to take it a bit easier on me, as she had been awfully strict prior. He loved me very much, and I him. I know one of his proudest moments was walking me down the aisle. My kids were the light of his life. He absolutely adored them.”
Treske believed in helping people, and called the Freeport Merrick Rotary Club “his church,” Elaine said. He served three terms as club president and two terms as vice president. “He loved Rotary,” Ken Dookram, a fellow Rotarian, said. “He was a driving force for Rotary, even through his illness. He was so passionate about the mission.”
Treske and other Rotarians worked on campaigns to eradicate polio and to raise money for young children who needed open heart surgery, and took part in local food drives at Thanksgiving. “He was very dedicated to his work with the civic leadership award program,” Iandiorio said.
Most recently, Treske was involved in a Rotary project to help build a well in the small village of Anse Pirogue in Haiti. “When Mark heard there was no access to drinking water, he and members of the club were enthusiastic about sponsoring this,” said Florence Marc-Charles, a fellow Rotarian.
The project has not been completed, and it was Treske’s wish that the community have the well. “Before he died,” Elaine said, “he told me not to forget about the well.”
Treske is survived by his wife and stepdaughter; a brother, David Treske (Michelle); grandchildren Maya and Noah Castells; and cousins Nat and Jay Bahny. A memorial service was held at Moore Funeral Home on Nov. 12, and he was buried at Cedar Grove Cemetery. Donations can be sent to the Freeport Merrick Rotary Club.