Obituary

Mark Thomas Eldridge, ETA creator, HUD visionary, Burlington's former director of planning and zoning

Mark Thomas Eldridge was born in Fairbanks Alaska on August 8, 1943, long before it became the 49th state.  This was a harbinger of a lifetime of being a bit ahead of the future.  Mark died with the caring support of his family and hospice team at home in Burlington Vermont on December 27, 2021.

In the late 1970s Mark created the Equity Transfer Assistance (ETA) program while Assistant Planning Director in Brookline Massachusetts. He hired Nancy Lee Rockett to run the award-winning Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) program designed to protect low-income renters from displacement due to condominium conversions. In 1984 Mark and Nancy’s shared world views led to a 37-year marriage.  They moved from Vermont Street in Boston’s West Roxbury neighborhood to Burlington Vermont in 1985 where Mark became Burlington’s Director of Planning and Zoning.   Throughout his years working for the city, he was a champion for climate change solutions including the 10% Challenge. In the 1990s the family car was electric, testing the energy efficient cars out for the city.  Mark was the recipient of the 2012 Civic Award of Excellence from the Toronto-based Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.  He had always hoped to cover our home’s flat roof with succulents.  Perhaps his most lasting work was conceiving of the “floating” Burlington Community Boathouse, suggesting that it be built on a barge allowing for flexibility of location and water levels.  Mark was devoted to excellence in the built environment, addressing inequities especially for those with a disability, and was frequently invited to speak nationally and abroad as a leader in the American Planning Association.

He was most proud of his children Elizabeth and Thomas, and wife Nancy. As the son of an Episcopal minister, Mark lived in several states, with his anchor being the family home in Heath Massachusetts since the 1940s. He received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and a Master’s in City and Regional Planning at UNC Chapel Hill.  Immediately upon graduation he served honorably in the Navy during the Vietnam war.

Mark was a lifelong avid fan of the Cardinals baseball team and UNC Chapel Hill Tar Heels basketball team.  He enjoyed daily crossword puzzles, played a mean piano, and enjoyed creating solar gardens in the backyard.

Mark is predeceased by his extraordinary parents, the Reverend Elsom Eldridge and Elizabeth Whitehead Eldridge.  In addition to Elizabeth, Thomas, Nancy and the entire Rockett family, he leaves brothers Steve and Sommie, their families, and many beloved friends.

Many thanks to UVM Health Network Home Health and Hospice for supporting Mark’s choice to remain at home. His life will be celebrated at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul when the time is right.


Family Information

Mark is predeceased by his extraordinary parents, the Reverend Elsom Eldridge and Elizabeth Whitehead Eldridge.  In addition to Elizabeth, Thomas, Nancy and the entire Rockett family, he leaves brothers Steve and Sommie, their families, and many beloved friends.

Submitted by:

Nancy Eldridge
[email protected]
2027164088

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