The son of a reverend and an ordained minister himself, Sgt. 1st Class Mark DWayne Jenkins lived to serve others.
Jenkins, a supply noncommissioned officer with Theater Special Operations Detachment-Korea, lost the battle against leukemia Jan. 3 in San Antonio with his family by his side, but it was his life that all of his families came together to celebrate Jan. 16 when he was laid to rest at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver.
A Colorado National Guardsman, father and devoted husband, Jenkins’ funeral served as a combined reunion, celebration and church service for everyone who loved him.
“I didn’t know my dad had so many people in the world,” said Zhane Brooks, his daughter. “It’s great that we could all come and be a family.”
Family and friends shared stories, from Jenkins’ delicious pancakes on Saturday mornings to his willingness to go to bat for anyone he considered family.
“I’ve cried, but at the end of the day, my dad did not like criers,” Brooks said. “He’d be laughing at (anyone) crying out there.”
So his father, Rev. Johnny Jenkins, held “church” to celebrate instead, recounting stories of his son (unsuccessfully) using Jesus and the scripture to get out of a spanking.
“My baby fought a good fight,” he said. “It stole his strength, it stole his stamina, but it could not steal his joy. ...We didn’t come here for a somber occasion.”
The family encouraged everyone who loved Mark Jenkins to tell stories, sing and laugh. These services, he said, would not be used for mourning. His mother took credit for his bizarre sense of humor, his wife thanked God for their short years together, and his former commander, Lt. Col. Adam Silvers, administrative officer with the 89th Troop Command, praised Jenkins’ sense of humor and loyalty to all of his families. Jenkins’ last gift was a reunion, he said.
“Rest in peace, my friend, we’ll take it from here,” he said.
Jenkins is survived by his wife Darlene Ashley-Jenkins, his daughters Meagan Jenkins and Zhane Brooks, his mother Sharon Major, brothers Gary Jenkins and Johnny Jenkins, sister Jaquay Brewster and stepbrother Armand Franklin.