“My dad placed his faith in Jesus, therefore, it’s all going to be o.k.” said the Rev. Andrew Ivester at his father’s funeral. Those were among the many words of hope and encouragement lifted up Wednesday during the funeral of North Georgia Technical College President Dr. Mark Ivester.
Ivester passed away on September 13 following a month-long battle with COVID-19.
His family held a private service at their home church in Toccoa. The service was livestreamed on the church’s Facebook page.
First Baptist Church of Toccoa Senior Pastor and Ivester’s lifelong friend David Ritcey delivered the eulogy. “Our hearts are heavy as we remember and reflect on a life well-lived,” he said. Ritcey recounted stories of Ivester’s childhood and his work as a church deacon and Sunday School teacher. He spoke endearingly of the relationship Ivester and his wife, Eleanor, shared and of his deep love for her and their family.
“I can not tell you how many times Mark said to me, and I quote this, ‘Eleanor is the best thing that ever happened to me.’ If he said that one time he said it a dozen times,” said Ritcey. The Ivesters were married for 33 years. On August 29, they spent their last wedding anniversary apart because she was not allowed to be with him in the hospital.
Beyond his love for God and his family, Dr. Ivester was known to love North Georgia Tech. He spent more than twenty years at the college following a 13-year career in manufacturing.
“He poured his heart into the college and his desire was to make it a place where people could come and learn and become productive members of society, and let me just say, he succeeded,” said Ritcey. “Mark was a leader of men. His leadership ability revealed itself whenever and wherever he served.”
Dr. Ivester was well-known and respected around Northeast Georgia and the state. In the weeks leading up to his death, people held prayer vigils and moments of silence remembering him and his family as he battled COVID-19.
It was a fight he could not overcome, said his son Andrew, who drew on his own faith to encourage others not to despair.
“My dad, he did a lot of things that affected a lot of people,” he said, “but there’s one thing that matters to my dad right now, and that is that he’s in the presence of the Lord gazing upon his beauty.”
While in-person attendance at the funeral was limited due to the pandemic, hundreds of people watched the service online.
Ivester served as NGTC president for six years. Prior to that, he served as the college’s Vice President for Administration Services, Vice President of Economic Development, and Acting President.
All three NGTC campuses closed early on Wednesday in honor of Dr. Ivester. The college returned to its normal schedule on Thursday.
The Technical College System of Georgia is expected to announce an interim president for NGTC within the next week, according to TCSG spokesperson Mark D’Alessio.