Mark Stoddard Hakala died unexpectedly on Sunday, Oct. 26. He was 57. He was a certified nursing assistant at the Larry Doughty House in Hyannis, part of the Vinfen network of caregiving services in Massachusetts and Connecticut. He was doing work that he loved with patients and colleagues who appreciated his great gifts.

Mark was a multi-talented man renowned for his sense of humor, his compassion and his ability to connect deeply with others.

No matter what Mark turned his hand to, he did it with eloquent style, from the beautiful calligraphy he used to address his Christmas cards to his vibrant watercolors and meticulous drawings. In addition to his artwork, he was a delightful writer. His family, friends and co-workers often saved his letters, emails and even text messages because they were filled with rich humor and insights.

Mark was the fifth child in a family of eight raucous siblings, all of whom are devastated by his death, including Sonja Hakala of West Hartford, Vt., Donald Hakala of Mashpee, James Hakala of Lima, Peru, Peter Hakala of Hyannis, Heidi Trottier of Forestdale, Paul Hakala of Edgartown, and David Hakala of Forestdale. In addition, he leaves several beloved brothers and sisters in law, eight nephews and nieces, friends too numerous to count, and colleagues who had come to treasure the light he brought to work each day.

There will be no calling hours or a formal funeral, but the family is holding a celebration of Mark’s life, love, laughter and creativity on Saturday, Nov. 1, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Beehive Tavern at 406 Route 6A in Sandwich. They will welcome everyone who loved Mark to join them.

Mark was predeceased by his parents, Augustus in 2002 and Marcia in 2010, both of whom died from complications of Parkinson’s disease. In the days before the death of his mother, Mark had an idea that would provide hope and comfort for others with this disease. 

His idea became a reality in 2011 as a nonprofit, the Parkinson’s Comfort Project. Instead of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Parkinson’s Comfort Project in Mark’s memory. Donations can be made online at or by mail to the Parkinson’s Comfort Project, 441 Pomfret Road, West Hartford, VT 05084.

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