Mark Lavinsky had to leave home after college, when he was drafted and sent to Vietnam.
And after he got back safely, he tried a few times to move away from the shore. He grew up in Atlantic City and Ventnor, and he and his wife, Linda, lived for a while in Maryland, where she grew up. They also tried Philadelphia, where Mark’s parents, Morris and Jean, lived before they moved to Atlantic City to run a corner store.
But the beach, the Boardwalk and the ocean always pulled Mark back. So when Linda was pregnant with their son, Adam, now 31, the Lavinsky family came back to Ventnor for good.
“He couldn’t stand to be inland,” as Linda puts it. “I always told him he had sand in his brain, not his shoes.”
He also had numbers running through his brain. He studied accounting at Rider College, where he and Linda met, and he became a partner in the Ventnor-based accounting firm now called Lavinsky, Horowitz & Pollard.
Mark retired in 2009, but died last month of Alzheimer’s disease at just 65. Of course, that diagnosis at age 63 was a shock to a guy who stayed as fit as he did. He loved riding his bike every morning the length of the Atlantic City-Ventnor Boardwalk, then dropping and pumping out 100 pushups — right on the boards.
“He’d go for all his checkups — he did everything by the book,” says his best friend, Gary May, of Ventnor.
May says his family — wife Anita and their two girls — and Mark and Linda’s family, including Adam and his big sister, now Adria Fishkin, weren’t just friends. They were family to each other. And May admits along with the lure of the shore, there was family pressure on Mark to move home to Ventnor.
“I was always telling him, ‘Come on back, come on back,’” says May, a maintenance-business owner.
There was much more to Mark’s life: a quirky sense of humor; his regular tap-dancing lessons; and years of charitable and community work. There was his lifelong respect for Martin Luther King Jr.; an obsession with singers from Frank Sinatra to Frankie Valli; and a list of beloved movies that includes “The Godfather” — a whole room in the Lavinsky home is decorated in “Godfather” style.
But for all his interests, it was this place that had an almost primal power over him.
The Lavinskys live on the bay side of Ventnor, but Mark always wanted to be closer to the ocean. Six years ago, Linda hit on the perfect solution — a summer place, in Ventnor.
It’s a compact condo on an upper floor of a Boardwalk high-rise. It has some nice features, such as a parking spot right by the beach. But the real draw is the condo’s view of the ocean and the Atlantic City skyline — of the home Mark Lavinsky just couldn’t leave.
Contact Martin DeAngelis: