From a Florida family that knew adventure on a national scale, Mark Wood Reno was The Adventurer.
The capitalization is correct: “The Adventurer,” his sister Maggy Hurchalla said of Mark, who died at 72 on Nov. 19 at the Reno family home in Kendall from lymphoma.
Reno, younger brother to Janet Reno (former attorney general of the United States during the Clinton administration) and Hurchalla (former commissioner in Martin County) and the late Robert Reno, who was a columnist for Newsday, “was an adventurer who loved the wild outdoors,” his sister said.
Credit the upbringing. Reno’s parents, Jane and Henry Reno, settled in Miami in the 1920s and weathered the hurricanes of 1926, 1928 and 1935. Their frame house, tucked along 20 acres of the west end of North Kendall Drive long before development, was served by a pot hill road dotted with pine, palmetto and cow pastures. On the edge of the Everglades, the road didn’t even yet extend to Krome Avenue.
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Here, Reno, born at Jackson Hospital on Dec. 23, 1941, thrived and developed a life-long love of critters. “Mark brought home whatever stray animal that needed him,” Hurchalla said. Otters. Alligators. Possums. “Anything known to man.”
He had a pet raccoon for his sixth Christmas. Not unusual. But Hurchalla laughs when she recalls a stray of a more, well, olfactory sensation. Before he was old enough to drive a car, young Reno had a motor scooter to get to Coral Gables High School. His family made him bathe four times after one trip before heading back to Gables for a football game. Seems Reno had befriended a skunk along the route.
Over the years, Reno, worked as a game warden, a boat captain, an alligator wrestler, a scuba diver, a paratrooper, ran tugboats and an oil supply ship off the coast of Nigeria, and, primarily, worked as a carpenter. In his last two months, he managed to carve benches out of tree remains he’d kept, left over from the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Reno also worked as a bailiff, and he’d always have a roll of paper towels with him at the Miami-Dade Justice Building.
“Sometimes the perp, if they were being sent away for long periods of time, would burst into tears. Mark felt he ought to help them out,” Hurchalla said. “He has been everywhere and did everything and did them all very well.” She also recalled the time Reno speared a grouper while free diving as he fended off a reef shark at 70 feet.
In addition to his sisters, Reno is survived by his wife Ann McDade, children Douglas and Karin Hunter Reno, grandchildren Ella, Chloe, August, Norah Jeanne, John Henry, Piper and McDade’s daughter Michelle. “And he had a 500-pound wild hog named Oink who would come galloping from a mile away because he would hear Mark’s truck and he would roll over,” Hurchalla said.
Services will be private. Donations in Reno’s name can be made to Florida Wildlife Corridor, PO Box 1802, Tampa, Florida, 33601 or at https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/floridawildlifecorridor.
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