Mark Richter was born on October 31, 1951 in Sydney, Australia. Mark was grandson of Australian explorer Charles Francis Laseron. He was a gifted squash player and horseman. Mark left school at the age of 16 to apprentice as a livestock auctioneer; he watched the Apollo 11 moon landing from a TV set in a cattle yard. He married Geraldine O’Connor and started a family at the age of 19, but soon decided to return to school. While studying at university he often felt out of place because his hands were rough and scarred from shoeing horses and building fences, which helped to pay the bills. Mark completed an undergraduate with honors and a PhD in Biochemistry at the University of New South Wales. He and Gerry divorced and Mark eventually became custodial parent of his two children, Daniella and Martin, whom his mother Judy helped him raise. Mark secured a postdoctoral research position at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.
He arrived in the U.S. on Thanksgiving Day of 1981 with his mother, his two children and seven suitcases. In Tallahassee he met and married Kimber Paschall. Mark completed a second postdoc at Cornell University and in 1987 joined the Biochemistry (now Molecular Biosciences) Department at the University of Kansas. He and Kim purchased their Lecompton home in 1989 which Mark extensively renovated over 30 years. While at KU Mark was promoted to full professor and served as department chair over two separate periods. He conducted federally-funded research on photosynthesis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and on biosensors for GABA, serotonin, histamine and nicotine. Mark taught undergraduate and graduate biology, biochemistry, and physical biochemistry. He won numerous awards for teaching—colleagues often wondered if students gave Mark extra points for his Australian accent. He helped found the recreational division of the Lawrence Adult Soccer League in 1998. Mark became an American citizen on August 27, 2020 and voted in his first election on November 3.
He loved his family, science, his cat Max, the morning newspaper sudoku, red wine, mystery novels, and all kinds of games—especially, during COVID, socially-distanced but very competitive croquet. Mark died December 26, 2020 following a 7-week battle with COVID-19. He is survived by his wife Kimber Paschall Richter; his sister Margaret Withnall of Sydney, Australia; and four children: Daniella of Cooroy, Australia; Martin of Padre Island, Texas; and Nicholas and Loren, both of Kansas City. Mark is also survived by three grandchildren and 4 step grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren and 8 step great-grandchildren; and his many master’s and doctoral students—who were all like family to him.
Another featured article on Mark's life can be read here at the Lawrence Journal-World: https://www2.ljworld.com/news/2021/feb/06/mark-richter-ku-professor-who-died-of-covid-19-remembered-as-mentor-to-many/.
Gifts in memory of Mark Richter can be made online at www.kuendowment.org/givenow or through the button below. There will be a field for you to note that the gift is to go to the Mark Richter Award for Excellence in Biochemistry.