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Provo community, congregation mourn loss of LDS Bishop, wife and two kids killed in plane crash

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Posted at 9:22 PM, Jun 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-12 23:24:03-04

PROVO, Utah -- Four member of a prominent Provo family were killed when their plane crashed in Missouri Friday morning, and members of their community and the LDS congregation the father presided over as a bishop are mourning the loss.

Mark Openshaw and his wife Amy both died in the crash, along with two children: 15-year-old Tanner and 11-year-old Ellie. A 5-year-old child was also injured, but survived.

Mark and Amy Openshaw were both just 43 years old.

The entire family was well-known in this neighborhood on Provo's east bench, where Mark served as the Bishop of his ward, which is a local congregation of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Neighbor Kris Pinegar said: “My first response was, ‘No, dear God: Why them?”

Katie King is a member of that congregation and said their community is struggling with the loss.

“It will leave a hole that can't be filled,” King said.

Friday morning, a plane piloted by Mark Openshaw crashed seconds after taking off from a grass air strip in rural Missouri. Witnesses, including some of Openshaw's family members, say the plane seemed to stall mid-air, then fell about 100 feet to the ground.

Neighbors described them as, “totally selfless people.”

Mark Openshaw was a business owner and held a position on the Utah State Board of Education, but in this Provo neighborhood where he served as Bishop of the Edgeview 8th Ward, he'll be best remembered for other things.

“Bishop Openshaw was the kind of person who would do anything for anybody, whether he knew them well or not,” said Jeff Alexander, who serves as a Stake President (a position that oversees several wards like the one Openshaw was Bishop of) for the LDS Church.

“The bishop, he would call you on your birthday, sing you happy birthday,” King said.

Pinegar said the whole family participated in service to others.

“His wife would bring their 5-year-old Max to the nursing home to visit my mother,” she said.

Pinegar said Mark Openshaw was quick to help others.

“We had a neighbor a couple weeks ago that had a heart attack, and he was the first one on the scene,” she said.

The Openshaws leave behind three sons, including the 5 year old who was injured in the crash, and two older sons who were not on the plane.

“It’s beyond my wildest imagination that they would be called so suddenly and leave these three beautiful children behind,” Pinegar said.

The oldest of their surviving children is currently out of the country serving an LDS Mission.

Gov. Gary Herbert sent FOX 13 News the following statement after the crash:

“I am shocked and saddened to learn today of the tragic passing of Mark Openshaw and members of his family. He was a strong advocate for Utah students and exemplary in his service on the State Board of Education. His service also extended to his community and church. He will be greatly missed. The First Lady and I wish to express our condolences to the Openshaw family at this difficult time."

Utah State Board of Education Chairman David L. Crandall released this statement after learning of the fatal crash:

“On behalf of the Members of the Utah State Board of Education, I express our deepest sympathy at the passing of our friend and colleague Mark Openshaw, and his wife and two of his children. Our hearts go out to his family. I have known him to be deeply passionate about Utah’s public schools and his death is a significant loss to our community. Mark had a way of brightening every room that he entered, and I will personally miss that,” Crandall said.

Crandall said Openshaw was first elected to the Utah State Board of Education as a representative from District 13 in 2008 and won reelection in 2012.

Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser also issued a statement in the wake of the crash.

"Utah lost a strong leader and good man in this tragic accident. Members of the Utah Senate offer deepest sympathy to Mark Openshaw's close friends and family. His injured son and surviving family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Mark was quick to volunteer his time, energy and expertise. We are all appreciative of his willingness to serve in this significant position, and grateful for the good he did. Mark represented an area larger than any legislative district on issues as important as any the state faces. We recognize the great sacrifice that his family made as he gave his time, and we are deeply grateful to them for supporting him.

We will miss his leadership on education issues, his good humor, dependability and commitment to making Utah a better state."