Mark Steevens, who died suddenly on the 20th September 2012, was the first Chairman of the Anglo-Burmese Library.
His unassuming nature, quiet manner, ready wit and smile endeared him to many friends and colleagues. He used his phenomenal memory and knowledge to help others with the gaps in their family history and to point them in the right direction with their research.
His own search for answers and the up-hill struggle over the years to obtain information and his desire and dedication for preserving Anglo-Burmese history all led to the creation of his beloved ABL. His in-depth knowledge of an administration long since gone as well as its military history was a unique talent.
Documenting the graves and cemeteries of the past has always been a priority for the ABL and early in 2012 when Mark was appointed the Burma representative for B.A.C.S.A. he hoped to fulfil his dream to ensure that all the known and yet to be discovered sites in Burma should be maintained and treated with the respect they deserve.
Mark Paul Steevens was born in Zambia in 1953, the country was then known as Northern Rhodesia. After the war with Japan his father left Burma and never returned to his birth place in Meiktila, by this time, he would probably have been aware of the death of his parents at Katha as they tried to make their way to India, he may also have known about the internment of other relatives in Maymyo. Mark was to learn of these things and his Anglo-Burmese ancestry nearly sixty years later.
In the mid 1980’s his father died, Mark and his siblings had the heartbreaking task of going through his belongings. Official letters emerged, permission for Major Steevens to retain his Japanese swords, others of appreciation and congratulations and one regarding his award of an M.B.E. Marks interest in his family history was sparked.
As the years rolled by, relatives were traced and contacted but by now many of the older generation were gone from this world and few of their descendents had ever wanted to “pry” by asking direct questions. Mark was thrilled to find numerous cousins who produced priceless photographs and family stories. The “tree” was growing, though the search was by no means over.
In 2008 he found the evacuation, casualty and internee lists which included the names of members of his family, they had survived that awful trek. The transcription of that document was to become a cornerstone of the ABL. Mark believed that Anglo-Burmese history should be more readily available and so the concept of the library was mooted and two years later he and other like-minded people formed the Anglo-Burmese Library.
Proud to be elected and re-elected as Chairman he spent the last few years honing his skills as webmaster and researcher. Meeting notes, written in early September 2012, tell how delighted he was at what the ABL has achieved, his admiration for all the volunteers who took the time to get involved with research, administration and transcription work, the positive feedback from around the world and how much he was looking forward to the future.