Earlier this year, he won the GLBT Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In April, he spoke at Outrageous Oral telling the story of Meals on the Move, the first program in Dallas to deliver meals to the homes of people with AIDS who were too sick to get out of their homes. MOM was responsible for delivering tens of thousands of meals.
In 2010, I wrote a story about Mark reinventing himself. He was a master of that. Professionally, Mark was an architect, a business that had its ups and downs. Mostly he designed high-end homes — Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, Nolan Ryan and Dave of Dave and Busters have lived in Mark Shekter-designed homes, but he also did some office buildings and apartments. His work is found around Oak Lawn. Among his Oak Lawn townhouses are homes on the north side of Throckmorton, between Cedar Springs Road and Lemmon Avenue about a block past Thairrific.
Mark started MOM during a downturn in the economy in the 1980s. At the time, he also created a travel agency. In the 1990s, when he was building in Oak Lawn, he decided the best way to sell the homes he was building was to create his own real estate firm. Surrealty still sells property in the area.
Many know Mark for his entertaining. For years, he catered the Beth El Binah Passover seder — in a French restaurant figuring that was kosher enough — and the synagogue’s break the fast after all-day Yom Kippur services in his apartment overlooking downtown Dallas in the Centrum.
He turned his love of catering into a business during the 2008 real estate market downturn with both a catering company and Ruthie’s Rugaluch.
Rugaluch is a pasty made from nuts, cinnamon and sugar rolled in a cream cheese dough. The word is Yiddish for little twists. Mark’s were the best. Ruthie was his mother, but he didn’t use her recipe. He said she just liked eating them. So did I, and every so often, Mark would surprise me with a batch.
Ruthie’s Rugaluch grew so quickly, he had to stop using his home kitchen to fill orders and move to a commercial kitchen.
But that new business wasn’t enough for him. He started another business during that downturn — helping people challenger their tax assessments. At a time when property values were stagnating, he was quite successful with most of the challenges he presented to the county.
In the LGBT community, Mark was a founder of the Stonewall Business Association and the GLBT Chamber. He served on the Oak Lawn Committee for years. Recently, he worked with The Dallas Way. His April presentation is below. It’s about a half hour and worth listening to how one person can make a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of people who he kept alive by making sure they had food at a time when there were few other resources and the Dallas AIDS agencies were just getting going.
His passing is a huge loss to the LGBT community in Dallas. A memorial service will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday at Temple Emanu-El, 8500 Hillcrest Road (at Northwest Highway).