Tributes and remembrances have poured in to Facebook and other sources acknowledging the passing of Mark S. Braunstein, noted philanthropist and chairman of the board and founder of the broadcast supply house Markertek, who died at the age of 71 on September 23, 2021 at Kingston Hospital after a long illness and complications from COVID-19.
“We lost him today. My husband and best friend. He made me shine,” wrote Katherine McKenna, Braunstein’s wife.
An announcement from Markertek offered “our heartfelt condolences to his wife Katharine, his son Andrew and his daughter Eliza.”
Markertek’s post added, “Incredibly focused and driven, Mark was the epitome of success from a relentless work ethic. He opened the Markertek doors in 1987 as Marker Technologies and remained its president until 2016. Starting from a 3-man operation, it quickly turned into one of the most respected names in the broadcast video supply industry.
“Mark was a rare visionary who brought out the best in those who worked with him. He understood the process of achieving goals and rewarding them, while at the same time, how a late afternoon game of ping pong offered release.”
Among his many philanthropic endeavors, Braunstein created the Markertek Fund and founded the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen in Woodstock in 1993. The Markertek Open Charitable Golf Tournament was launched in 1997 and soon thereafter the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley became its benefactor. He was the founding sponsor of the Woodstock Film Festival. He would later carry this forward to help Laurent Rejto create the Hudson Valley Film Commission.
At the Film Commission website, Rejto wrote: “In 2000, I had the good fortune of meeting Mark at the old Markertek company headquarters in Saugerties. I was looking for support to launch a Film Festival. I left that day with a founding sponsor and a friendship that would bless me forever.
“Later on, when things got tough, Mark became the primary sponsor of the Hudson Valley Film Commission. His support directly impacted hundreds of productions, helping to create thousands of jobs and regional economic development. His impact cannot be overstated! In 2015, he suggested turning One Tompsons in Saugerties into a Film Studio. Today, as Upriver, it is hosting an HBO TV show. He never took credit for any of those things.
His humility was admirable. I will also miss his kindness, support, patience, mentorship, wisdom, and his friendship above all…”
Braunstein’s generosity knew no bounds. According to an obituary published by Seamon Wilsey Funeral Home in Kingston, “He set up the media center at the Woodstock Day School and generously donated to the Arts Society of Kingston’s Great Room for the Arts. He was a major supporter of the Women’s Health Expo. He supported the Woodstock Film Festival for many years as well as the Hudson Valley Film Commission. He lent his support to the High Mountain Institute in Leadville, CO, and gifted to Pratt Institute the ‘Katharine L. McKenna Screening Room.’ His humble support was spread throughout the community, too many to list, but is felt by all. In his love for the Arts, his final contribution to the community was toward the rehabilitation of the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony Theater, finished with lights on, in time for him to see it.” Braunstein also donated generously to purchase Alf Evers visual aid equipment to enable him to read text more easily, while he finished his History of Kingston in early 2000s.
The Markertek statement ended with a tribute. “We have treasured our time with you on this earth. Our love and admiration for the man you were could never be quantified. May you rest in peace and your memory be a blessing for all of those who were lucky enough to call you a friend.”
Born March 9, 1950 in Queens, NY he was the son of the late Alvin and Barbara Braunstein.
Survivors include his wife, Katharine L. McKenna; a daughter, Eliza R. McKenna and a son, Andy Braunstein all of Woodstock. A sister, Ronnie (Mark) Astor of Maryville, TN, and a grandchild, Adelaide Braunstein also survive. He was predeceased by his son Benjamin Braunstein.
A service to celebrate the life of Mark Braunstein will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, October 10 at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation, 1682 Glasco Turnpike, Woodstock, NY 12498.
In lieu of flowers, please choose and donate to one of Mark’s favorite charities.
“What a life he lived,” said Meira Blaustein, Woodstock Film Festival Executive Director, “a very full life…thank God for that…”