Ralph Marcus "Mark" Spink, an award-winning film producer and director and former Western Michigan University faculty member, died June 17. He was 86. Spink joined the WMU faculty in 1966 and retired in 1989 after more than 23 years of service to the University. He was a professor of media services and coordinator of production services in media services.
In those roles, Spink taught courses in the Department of General Studies and College of Arts and Sciences as well as produced, directed, narrated and acted in a variety of broadcast projects for class instruction; the promotion of WMU people and activities; programming for WMUK, the University's public radio station; and campus-community collaborations.
Several of the film, television and radio projects he worked on earned awards, such as the film "Paolo Soleri: Arcosanti," which Spink produced and directed and won a silver medal from the International Film and TV Festival of New York in 1984.
Other acclaimed projects included the "Poets in Their Time" television series; the film "Return"; and two radio series, "Voices from Michigan's Past" and "Future Tense." The latter two projects helped WMUK win a Peabody Award for outstanding broadcasting. Spink also was the producer and director of "WMU Presents," a 30-minute news magazine that was televised locally in the 1980s.
His work was shown and aired in numerous WMU classes and often by cable access TV as well as by National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting Service stations. Some of the work was funded by organizations such as the Michigan Council for the Arts and the Humanities and the Michigan Department of Education.
In 2001, Spink and two of his sons joined a seven-member group of artists that explored Lake Superior and its islands in a wooden sailing cutter, observing and documenting the trip through a variety of media.
Spink served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota and a master's degree from the University of Denver. Prior to coming to WMU, he had been a high school counselor and English and speech teacher in Minnesota and Colorado.
A memorial service will be held for Spink at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2, at 2503 Schippers Lane in Kalamazoo.