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Obituary: Mark J. Rabchun

By |2020-07-05T03:44:01-04:00July 3rd, 2020|Michigan, News|

June 8, 1955 – June 23, 2020

Mark J. Rabchun, a beloved member of and dedicated volunteer at Metropolitan Community Church – Detroit, died June 23 of cancer. He was 65.

Rabchun was born and raised in Hamtramck. He attended Catholic schools and graduated from Notre Dame High School. He would go on to earn a degree in culinary arts from Schoolcraft Culinary College.

He worked for many years at DTE Energy as the head chef of the company dining room. After many years, Rabchun developed fibromyalgia and transferred to a customer service position. Eventually, the debilitating disease would force him to take an early retirement.

But, his health permitting, Rabchun thrived in retirement. He and his husband, Walt Grisdale, attending the social club Boy’s Night Out weekly dinners regularly. Rabchun loved flowers, particularly lilies, and decorating the house for the holidays.

“He probably had a collection of a few hundred Santa Clauses, 100 Easter bunnies,” Grisdale said. “We’d invite people over for dinner and have large parties. Mark would put the parties together.”

Known for being a sharp dresser — he had several big closets of clothes, said Grisdale — he was also a collector of art.

Rabchun and Grisdale were together for 10 years before getting married with three other couples outside the Oakland County Courthouse during a brief window in which same-sex marriage was legal in Michigan in 2014. The couple had been together at that time for five years, though they initially met many years earlier.

“I was married to a guy who died and I started dating Mark. And after two or three weeks I said, ‘I can’t do this,’” Grisdale explained. “Ten years later, I met him again. It was at the Hayloft Bar. I walked in and he was there … and from that day on we were together.”

It was Grisdale who first took Rabchun to MCC-D.

“I took him to MCC-D and he just found it to be home,” he said. “Within a few months, he started working with the social staff that provided the food after service. After about a year, he took it over. He ran the social staff for more than a decade and retired from doing it just last year.

“The last three or four years he was also the person who arranged the service,” Grisdale continued. “He had too many jobs. But he was very sincere. All the notes I’m getting from people talk about how much they liked him and how well he did his jobs at the church and how caring he was.”

The Rev. Dr. Roland Stringfellow, senior pastor and teacher at MCC-D, had nothing but kind words for his longtime parishioner.

“Mark was a super volunteer,” he said. “Any pastor would salivate to see such a person enter their doors. During my tenure, Mark was our hospitality coordinator and lead worship coordinator. In other words, if visitors felt welcomed and desired to return to our church, he had much to do with that. He leaves a gaping hole in our community and we mourn his passing.”

A private funeral service will take place for Rabchun on Friday, July 17, at the Wessels & Wilk Funeral Home. Visitation is permitted from 5 – 7 p.m. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the funeral home will only allow 10 visitors at a time and masks are required. The funeral home is located at 23690 Woodward Ave. in Pleasant Ridge. The funeral will also be streamed via Zoom for those who cannot attend in person. For that information, viewers can reach out to Grisdale at Donations in Rabchun’s memory may be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society or MCC-D.

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University before joining Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. Jason has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author having written the authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," which he released on his own JAM Books imprint.