Mark S. Hillestad, November 6, 1956 - June 6, 2018

Mark S. Hillestad
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Mark Stanley Hillestad, 61, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, June 6th 2018, surrounded by family and close friends. 

Mark was born to Stan and Yvonne Hillestad on November 6th, 1956. He spent his childhood in Eau Claire with his younger brother, Daniel, and many cousins.  

At Memorial High School, Mark was named Most Valuable Memorial Old Abe tennis player both his junior and senior year. Playing with his brother, Daniel, and under his dad, Stan, who coached the team, he served as team captain his senior year and received the Best Sportsmanship trophy. He got along well with others and had a great sense of humor. 

After graduating from Memorial, he went on to receive his accounting degree from the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire and his CPA. While there, he played three years varsity tennis. He worked at Ernst & Whinney in Minneapolis and in Milwaukee and Holiday Travel in Eau Claire before switching industries to work in customer accounts at Xcel Energy. 

In 1980 he met Karla Borgen at church, and married her on November 27th, 1982. They had two daughters, Kristi and Kelsey. Mark loved his family, and carved out special time with them. From couples bowling league to family game nights, building model cars, family trips, and scheduling father/daughter date nights, Mark showed his love for his family in many ways. As a father, he was unwaveringly supportive and quick to offer words of encouragement. Of his marriage, he once said that being married to Karla was paradise. 

Mark was active in all the churches he attended. He and his wife were involved in a puppet ministry for children, and he also drove the church van to pick up children who needed a ride to Wednesday night services. 

Mark was always involved in sports. He played on the church softball team at Evangel (Westridge) for many years. He often took local fishing trips in the summer and especially enjoyed fishing with his dad and brother. Mark joined a church bowling league and made news with his records, setting a new local record with an 837 series and one perfect game in 1995 after getting over chicken pox. 

Whenever interviewed on his successes, Mark made a point to give thanks to his Lord, Jesus Christ, for blessing him. It was important to him to share his faith, in the good times and the bad. 

In 2013, Mark was diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Quickly, the disease robbed him of his ability to participate in sports, to work at Xcel, and to enjoy many things in life.  

Still, he did not allow the disease to diminish his faith. With Karla at his side, lovingly caring for him as the disease progressed, Mark continued to give thanks for each day. He volunteered at the food pantry at Trinity Lutheran Church and helped his dad with Meals on Wheels until he was no longer able to do so. He lavished his granchildren, Jude, Archer, and Synnove with love. When he prayed, he thanked the Lord for the day that He had made, each one a blessing, and rejoiced in it. Despite all the losses, the frustration, fears, and pain, Mark fought the disease with expemlary bravery, ever leaning on the Lord for strength. 

In the spring of 2018, Mark's health declined abruptly as a result of dementia. On June 6th, 2018, Mark went peacefully home to his Lord. 

He is survived by his wife, Karla, his parents, Stan and Yvonne Hillestad, his brother Daniel (Robin), his daughters, Kristi (Eric), and Kelsey (Shane), and his grandchildren, Jude, Archer, and Synnove. 

Today, with great sorrow at his passing,  we give thanks. We give thanks for this tender-hearted, loving man who walked in God's love and gave it abundantly. We give thanks for the memories we will take with us and the ways he still inspires us. We give thanks that Mark's suffering is over, and that he is now healed and whole in heaven. We rejoice in the hope we have in Jesus Christ, that we, too, can be joined with our heavenly father by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins.  

"In the same way let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." 

Matthew 5:16 

A visitation will be held at Harvestime Church in Eau Claire at 2 pm on Sunday, June 10th, followed by a memorial service at 3:30 pm. Burial will take place in the Northside Cemetery in Eau Claire immediately following the funeral service. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Lewey Body Dementia Association.

Friends may offer condolences online at  Hulke Family Funeral Home & Cremation Services is assisting the family with the arrangements.


  1. Alan Boyes August 15, 2018

    I was very sorry to learn of your loss. My prayers and thoughts are with you.

  2. Duane & Kari Lammers June 19, 2018

    We have such fond memories of Mark. He was a very tender person. We, of course, loved teasing him, and he was always so surprised! When he committed to something, he was "all-in". We will never forget the many dramas we participated in as a family of Christ. May the Lord wrap His loving arms around each of you during this season of loss.

  3. Jim Knutson-Kolodzne June 19, 2018

    Dear Karla,

    My condolences to you and your family. My thoughts and prayers go out to you.

  4. James L. Loomis June 11, 2018

    Dear Mr. Hillestad and family,
    I was saddened to read of Mark's passing. I remember your boys when they were young and you were their best coach and a great father who was so proud.
    I watched the video and could see the great man Mark had become. Always so happy and involved with his family.
    My thoughts and prayers are with all of you during this difficult time. May time, faith, and the fond memories help fill that void that is felt at this time.

    James L. Loomis
    Memorial HS-1970

  5. Cheryl A Gilliford June 11, 2018

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss of a wonderful man. I am honored to have been able to know him and take care of him. Even though it was a short time, he had a special place in my heart. May God bless you all through this horrible time of sorrow.

  6. Ernest and Jeanne Loga June 11, 2018

    So sorry to hear of Marks Passing. Sorry we missed the funeral. We just learned of Mark's passing. Our deepest sympathies to Karla and family.

  7. Jim Wiegner June 10, 2018

    My thoughts and prayers go with Mark’s brother Dan, father Stan, Karla and the whole family. So sorry to hear of the loss of my good friend and fellow Memorial HS tennis team colleague.

  8. Marjorie Satre June 10, 2018

    I was so surprised to see Mark's obituary! Then to read he had early onset dementia, but he continued in his faith. A remarkable man who is finally at peace.

  9. Charles Woletz June 9, 2018

    Dear Herr Hillestad,
    I am sorry to learn of Mark's passing. He certainly blessed hundreds with his kindness and compassion. May many treasured memories bring you smiles and comfort during this time of sadness.
    Chuck "Werner" Woletz
    Memorial High School '74-'77

  10. Dave & Lori Staszcuk June 9, 2018

    Mark was such a special person. We always enjoyed talking with him, and also having him as classmate years ago at MHS. He had a special heart, which was always evident. We are praying the Lord's perfect peace for you Karla, girls, & entire family.

  11. Kevin Klatt June 8, 2018

    Our thoughts are with you...Kevin, Renee, & Keelin

  12. Amy and Paul Smith June 8, 2018

    Our deepest sympathies to Karla and family. Mark was so faithful and deeply loved his girls. Whenever he talked about his daughters his tone would soften and his eyes would light up revealing the unmistakable depth of his fatherly affection and how proud of them he was.

  13. Dee Dee June 8, 2018

    Mark has such a wonderful and caring family. It was with great sadness that I learned of his illness and passing. Surely you will all meet again in God's hands.

  14. James Rapp June 7, 2018

    It is so sad to think of Mark leaving us at such a young age. But I'm glad that his struggles with ill health are now over and he is at rest with his Savior and Lord.

    Alice and I are thinking of you, Karla, and your girls, as you are grieving the loss of your husband, father and grandfather. We are praying that God's comfort will fill your hearts.

  15. Patti Blount June 7, 2018

    I'm sorry to hear about the passing of Mark. Sympathy to the family during this difficult time.