IM SO PROUD OF MY SON ...
By RACHEL AFFLICK firstname.lastname@example.org FIVE years ago, Byron Bay businessman Mark Wallace spent many days in a desperate search for his sister Jodi, who was killed in the first Bali bombings.
Now Mark, 42, has had his own life tragically cut short. Mark died after an incident at Tweed Heads last weekend. A man has been charged over the incident.
Mark's father, Barry Wallace, a well-known Byron Bay businessman, yesterday described his son as his 'best mate'.
Mark, who was born in Sydney, moved to Byron Bay 10 years ago to be closer to his dad.
He started selling second-hand carpets and built his%business up from scratch to%become one of the major%carpet distributors on the North Coast.
Mark had many successes before%winning a small business of the year award and teaming up with the%Carpet Choice franchise.
Barry Wallace said that as well as being a successful businessman, Mark's major passion in life was travel and before arriving at Byron Bay he had travelled extensively around the globe.
"He loved nature," Mr Wallace said. "He worked in the Amazon and had no fear of spiders and snakes which he handled freely."
Mark used to race speedboats on the Hawkesbury River with his brother Chris and, after moving to Byron Bay, started playing Golden Oldies Rugby. More recently, he played touch football and squash a couple of times a week.
Perhaps Mark's greatest achievement was in his role as the devoted single father of his daughter Tara, who recently turned 18 and finished school.
"He had been a single dad for the last eight to 10 years. Mark didn't allow himself to get into a relationship while he was doing that," Mr Wallace said.
Mr Wallace said Mark had since begun a relationship with a woman he had known for many years and had been getting ready to pop the question.
Mr Wallace said he was proud of Mark for the person he had become and the things he had achieved.
"He was absolutely amazing, what he did with the business. He just blew me away," Mr Wallace said. Carpet Choice will be continued by Mark's brother, Chris.
Mr Wallace, who owns a Jonson Street clothing shop, said he would%also be involved in the running of Mark's business.
Yesterday, several members of the Byron Bay community also spoke of their own sense of 'shell shock' at Mark's death.
Mark's employee, Martin Folan, said customers had been ringing up almost in tears.
He said Mark was a genuinely honest man who had been a pleasure to work for.
"I'm working today. Why wouldn't you for someone like him?" Mr Folan said.
"Speaking to Mark a few days ago he was so positive about what we were going to be doing this year.
"He was even thinking about expanding."
Friend Paul McCarthy described Mark as a quiet achiever who was a great bloke and great sportsman.
"His prospects were brilliant, but he fought hard to get where he was," Mr McCarthy said. "What could have been, he has been robbed of."
When the Tabulam races were called off last year because of the horse flu, Mark and Paul went to the pub anyway, had a bet on the TAB and wound up singing karaoke. " About 14 couples go to the races every year. It's hard to believe he won't be there this year," Mr McCarthy said. "He will be sorely missed by everyone that knew him."
As of yesterday Mark's funeral was still to be confirmed, but was expected to be held mid-morning on Monday at Byron Bay's Catholic Church.