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By Kelly Smith, Published August 28 2009

Trollwood visionary steps back from role

John Marks, longtime Trollwood Performing Arts School leader and visionary, is stepping back from his role there after 31 years.

Future Builders, the fundraising arm of Trollwood, did not renew his contract as “major gifts guy” Wednesday.

“Trollwood is my life,” Marks, 61, said Thursday. “For me, it’s time to pass the torch on to the next generation.”

His contract ends Aug. 31.

Marks will continue to work with Future Builders as a consultant, maintaining the same responsibilities seeking major donations, though no longer as an employee, said Future Builders Executive Director Gail Benson.

“This was just a natural progression,” she said. “He proposed that. He wanted a little bit more flexibility in his schedule.”

Marks co-founded Trollwood Performing Arts School in north Fargo in 1978. It opened at a new south Moorhead location this spring. Marks moved a few years ago from being the school’s executive director to development director for Future Builders.

Steve Wurzer, vice president of the Future Builders board, said directors want to keep Marks involved, and have a “very good” working relationship with him.

“He’s a tremendous asset to Trollwood and to Future Builders, and we want very much … to make sure that John continues to be a part of the future of Trollwood,” Wurzer said.

Marks has no hard feelings about the change.

“I’m delighted with what Future Builders are doing,” he said. “I have total faith and confidence in (Future Builders President) Kent Wild and Gail Benson and the Future Builders to work this out so I can continue to be available and share all the contacts I’ve had.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515