Mark Sanford Sowell Jr.

Published 10:26 am Monday, June 17, 2024

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Mark Sanford Sowell Jr.
Pensacola, Fla.

COL Mark Sanford Sowell, Jr., USA (Ret.), 88, of Pensacola, Fla., passed away on Monday, June 3, 2024.
Mark Sanford Sowell, Jr. “Dad”, “Papa”, “Pop”, “Lightning”, was born in Brewton on April 28, 1936, to Mark Sanford Sowell, Sr., and Sara Ruth (Liles) Sowell. He grew up in Brewton and graduated from T.R. Miller High School in the Spring of 1954. He played all sports growing up and was a member of T.R. Miller’s State High School Basketball Championship team of 1952.
In the Fall of 1954, he entered Alabama Polytechnic Institute (API), later known as Auburn University. In 1956, he married his high school, albeit from Evergreen High School, sweetheart, Trisha Alexander, beginning a large and close family. He graduated from API in 1958 with a B.S. degree in Building Construction and was commissioned a 2LT of Engineers through the Army ROTC program.
After his first tour of duty at what was then Camp Polk, La., as a Bridge Platoon Leader, he was reassigned to the 101 st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, Kent., as an Engineer Company Executive Officer.
At the conclusion of this tour in 1961, he began a one-year unaccompanied tour in the Imperial State of Iran where he was involved in surveying the border and siting fortifications between Iran and Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Upon his return from Iran in 1962, he entered the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy, later known as the University of Missouri – Rolla, where he earned his B.S. degree in Civil Engineering. Upon completion of school, he was reassigned to 173rd Airborne Brigade and in 1965 deployed to Vietnam where he served as the Engineer Company Commander and Brigade Engineer. Upon returning from Vietnam in 1966, he was assigned to teach Army ROTC at Georgia Tech where he also earned his M.S. degree in Civil Engineering.
After a second tour in Vietnam (1968-1969), he served tours at Ft. McPherson, Ga., and Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., after which he returned to Iran in 1975 with his family for a two-year assignment with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer District in Tehran. After Iran, he was assigned as the Deputy District Engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Mobile, where among many other duties he oversaw the Gulf Coast’s recovery from Hurricane Frederick which hit in September of 1979. He also served tours at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ft. Benning, Ga., and then again at Ft. McPherson where in the summer of 1988, after 30 years of service, he retired at the rank of Colonel. Among his many decorations and awards are two Bronze Stars, the Legion of Merit, the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Senior Parachutist Wings, Ranger Tab and, though he was an Engineer for his entire career, he was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge for his service with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam.
Following his military service, he worked for the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation after ten years at which he retired again.
Papa loved camping, as if he didn’t get enough in the Army; he loved sports, particularly Auburn football; he loved history, particularly family history; he loved finding a good deal at the Waterfront Rescue Mission; he could cook anything on a charcoal grill; he had the ultimate green thumb; and his greatest enjoyment was the successful negotiation of an Auburn/Alabama football ticket for the mere coins in his pocket. But most importantly, he is the loving and loyal husband of Patricia Alexander Sowell, the proud father of four, father-in-law of three, grandfather of seven and great- grandfather of eleven.
He is preceded in death by his parents; as well as a granddaughter, Madeline Marie Joyner.
Mark is survived by his wife of 68 years, Patricia Alexander Sowell; son, Mark S. Sowell, III (Cathy) of Pensacola; daughter, Patricia Sowell Joyner (Whit) of Auburn; son, Stephen L. Sowell (Leah) of Fairhope, and daughter, Leah Alexander Sowell of Auburn; grandchildren, Christopher Sowell (Christy) of Pinehurst, NC, Andrew Sowell (Julie) of Pensacola, David Joyner (Alana) of Roswell, Ga., Blaine Joyner of Birmingham, Kelly Joyner Schulte (Philip) of Opelika, Sarah Sowell Gambril (Donald) of Mountain Brook, and Rebecca Sowell Tarwater (Andrew) of Vestavia Hills; as well as many great-grandchildren and his brother, Duncan L. Sowell (Lydia) of Mobile.
Graveside Service will be held 10:30 a.m. Monday, June 24, 2024, at Barrancas National Cemetery, in Pensacola, with Chaplain Jim Dietz officiating and full military honors. For those wishing to attend, please meet at Harper-Morris Memorial Chapel for a funeral cortege to depart at 10:00 a.m. sharp.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Disabled American Veterans.
The family would like to give special thanks to the staff of Willowbrooke Court at Azalea Trace Healthcare Facility.

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