Even in death, Hamburg Village Trustee Mark J. Colmerauer has given back – twice – to the community he loved.
And that community has said multiple thank-yous for all that he accomplished in life, in visible signs of gratitude found on everything from Hamburg public buildings to youth lacrosse players’ helmets.
Colmerauer, a 45-year-old third-term village trustee and an environmental project manager, died Wednesday in Mercy Hospital, three days after being stricken at home.
“Mark would be thrilled, just to know how people felt about him and how he affected so many people’s lives,” his wife, Joanne, said.
“I hope he can see that.”
Colmerauer was an organ donor, through Unyts. Doctors told his family on Monday that he probably wouldn’t survive, so there was time to arrange for his organs to be donated.
His two kidneys were transplanted early Thursday, one to a Hamburg man in his 40s, the other to another Western New York man in his 60s.
“It’s been the only bright spot in this devastating tragedy that happened to our family,” Joanne Colmerauer said. “When anyone comes to the house or calls me, I tell them the story.”
Even more rewarding for the Colmerauer family, including the couple’s two children, Kate and Brian, is that Mark Colmerauer may have once met one of the men who got one of his kidneys. A man who attended Hamburg High School with Colmerauer badly needed a kidney; that man’s friend, who also is friendly with the Colmerauers, texted Joanne Colmerauer on Tuesday night. So she and her family requested that he get the kidney, and he turned out to be a perfect match.
“It’s just a miracle to me,” Joanne Colmerauer said of the rich coincidence.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at noon Saturday in St. Bernadette’s Catholic Church, 5930 South Abbott Road, Orchard Park, for a man who wore a lot of hats in his various professional, government and volunteer roles.
As department manager of environmental services for C&S Cos., he was involved in environmental remediation and cleanup projects for both the Conventus Medical Office Building and HarborCenter projects, two of downtown Buffalo’s newest jewels.
In his spare time, besides his work on the Village Board, Colmerauer also coached young Hamburg lacrosse and hockey players.
“He’s a very humble individual, never looking for credit, always going beyond the call of duty,” Mayor Thomas J. Moses Sr. said Friday evening, referring to Colmerauer in the present tense. “He’s definitely going to be missed on our Village Board. Our board is devastated.”
Moses also was Colmerauer’s next-door neighbor, and the mayor’s son went to high school with him.
“He was like a son to me,” he said.
Here are some of the tributes that already had been paid to Colmerauer, barely 48 hours after his death, according to his family:
• Flags have been lowered to half-staff at village buildings.
• Hamburg boys JV lacrosse players already have “MC” stickers on their helmets.
• The big star atop the Hamburg village water tower was scheduled to be lighted Friday and Saturday nights, a tradition usually reserved for holidays and special occasions.
• The Hamburg Hawks hockey organization already has offered to help support Brian Colmerauer next season, if needed.
• At Friday’s wake in the Donald M. Demmerley Funeral Home, four groups came en masse to pay their respects: the Hamburg High School varsity and junior varsity lacrosse teams, the Hamburg Hawks bantam hockey team and the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department, where Colmerauer was a trustee.
Joanne Colmerauer can only imagine how her husband would feel about this outpouring of love from the community.
“He would be just completely blown away, so surprised and humbled, to know how he affected people.”