Life Tribute – Mark Alan Totten

Mark Alan Totten

              Mark Alan Totten, a son of California pioneers, died of acute leukemia in Walnut Creek, California on April 10, 2021 at the age of 88. He was survived by his wife of 69 years, Mary Ellen Totten, nee Ashe; sons Robert M Totten, Phillip D Totten and Tracy P Totten. Also survived by sisters Gail Ashe and Sara Fenn and brother John Totten; four grandchildren; Joseph, Haley, Mark and Katrina. He is also survived by three great-grandchildren; Eliana, Avery and John.

He was predeceased by parents Herbert Roy Totten, Marian Nevada Totten, nee Hicks; brother Herbert James Totten; and son David Ray Totten.

Mark spent the majority of his life as a resident of Lassen County where he was employed by the county for 39 years. In the early months of WWII, his family returned to the family Ranch in Pittville, California from Hayward, where his father was working for the California Department of Highways.

As young boys, he and his brother Jim did the work of men who were away at war. Mark attended Pine Grove Elementary School and graduated from Fall River High School in 1948. He went on to study at Lassen College, the City College of San Francisco, the University of California at Davis and was a graduate of California State College at Chico with a degree in public administration in 1974. He began his career as a telegrapher’s assistant for the Southern Pacific Railroad in Redding. Later he was a truck driver in the Lassen County Road Department. In time he was promoted to district foreman, then general superintendent. After 17 years he was appointed as the county purchasing agent and planning director. He later served as the risk manager for all county insurances and director of public works.

He instilled a strong work ethic in his sons, three of whom were graduates of the University of California, Davis. He led by example. He overcame adversities and walked with a cane after his early 40s. His warm and positive outlook on life inspired all who knew him. Respected by the community he served, Mark was a man of honor and champion of the disadvantaged. He spoke truth to power and never forgot his humble beginnings. After retirement, he served Lassen County for another t20 years by appointment to the Planning Commission, Local Agency Formation Commission, and the Air Resources Board. He also served as a rural health insurance ombudsman for the Retired Public Employees of Northern California.

Beloved by his family, he was an outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman. He spent many enjoyable days traveling by RV throughout the United States, particularly rural California, Alaska, Arizona and Oregon. His cheerful disposition and a perpetually warm and positive outlook on life, inspired all who knew him. In his later years he was the primary caregiver for his wife Mary as she struggled with her health. His last years were spent between Susanville and the retirement community of Rossmoor in Walnut Creek, California. Internment was in the Pine Grove Cemetery in McArthur, California.