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A Smile That Always Filled the Room

Updated: Mar 18, 2021

Recollections of Mark by Matthew Groum

Mark at Archmere

Letter written by Matthew Groum: 7/19/18

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Dombroski, Kevin, and John,

My name is Matthew Groum and I was one of Mark’s classmates and friends during his time at Archmere. It has taken months for me to be able to come to terms with the reality that Mark has passed on into eternal life with his creator and that he is at peace. I cannot begin to imagine how much your family has gone through in the past couple months. I hope that you have found peace in your faith. I have kept you all in my prayers and I hope that the Lord gives you great strength.

Right after I heard that Mark had gone missing, I sent a message to my fellow former Auks who were studying at the University of Delaware. We decided to gather in the Catholic Oratory on campus to pray for his safe return. An hour before, we found out that Mark had passed. We still went to the oratory to be together. In that moment, I saw Archmere students from completely different social circle and different interests come together to grieve their mutual friend, Mark. Mark was the light that shone on all of us. In that moment, I felt like my community was missing its most important member, my buddy Mark. Once we all decided to go back to our dorms that night, the Catholic Campus Minister and the Campus Priest, Ms. Kim and Fr. Ed, asked us if we would like to gather together later for a Memorial Mass in Mark’s honor. The group thought that it was a good idea, so we chose the Thursday of that week for the Mass. On Thursday we were all surprised to see fellow Auks from schools in Philadelphia and other Archmere teachers joining us in memory of our friend Mark. Many of us could only give each other bear hugs because words could not properly describe how we felt in our hearts. Fr. Ed invited up anyone who wanted to speak during the service. I spoke shortly about the Mark I knew, and I have included my remarks in this letter. That day, I felt his presence in the room and I know that he was with us.

After attending the beautiful funeral service for Mark, I kept his picture right on the bed stand in my dorm room so that I would be reminded that in even the worst moments, there is an angel flying high above us all, watching over us. Mark meant the world to me, and I hope to be half the man that he was. For every great child, there is a great family behind him. I want to thank you all for sharing the gift of Mark with all of us. If there is anything that I can do for any of you, please let me know. A family member of Mark’s is a family member of mine. My prayers are with all of you. I know that Mark is smiling down on all of us.

“Once and Auk, forever an Auk”


Matt Groum


Matthew Groum

Matt Groum

University of Delaware

Thomas More Oratory

March 22, 2018

Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” For those of you who knew Mark, you know that he made you feel differently than anyone else. You would get this feeling of pure happiness around him.

For me, Mark probably doesn’t know to what extent he impacted me. There was a time in my Freshman year when I didn’t know if Archmere was the place where I wanted to be. I didn’t know if I had made the correct decision in picking my high school. But because my dad had to catch an early train to work in Philadelphia every morning, I was in the SLC or Student Life Center by about 7:05am. It was often empty, but for a couple people. One of those people was Mark Dombroski. Man, he walked around like he owned the place! His Tall stature, blonde hair, and that signature Mark smile that always filled the room!

He would walk from table to table, talking to everyone. Knowing something about what they had been recently doing or what their interests were. He didn’t have to make the effort that he did to talk to me though. We were in completely different friend groups, from different backgrounds, with almost completely different interests. But him being him, he came and talked to me everyday anyways. Little did he know that him talking to me made me feel so much more comfortable in my new environment. He would tell me what sports games to go to and what to wear, whether it was a blackout or whiteout. Or he’d convince me to go with him to go get a donut or a muffin in the morning, because as he said “Why not? Enjoy life Matt.” He walked this earth so lightly. Taking in the happiness of the little things.

I didn’t grow up with brothers, but Mark showed and taught me what it meant to be a brother. Being a brother meant checking on someone when they looked stressed, it meant just smiling and saying hello to them in the hallway, it meant telling them when they were doing something amazing. Being a brother meant sincerely caring for your fellow brother. Mark made you feel loved, wanted, and most of all accepted. He made me so proud to be an Archmere Auk.

Right before Graduation, many of the teachers told us to soak in Graduation because it would be the last time that we would all be in the same place at the same time ever again. None of us could have imagined that this would have been the reason why. As a collective we are mad and sad that we will not be able to see and hug our Mark for now, but I believe that one day we will be reunited in a life everlasting. Remember that our faith teaches us to channel our sadness and despair into good works. One of our classmates, Jay Rothwell, used a hashtag on social media when writing of Mark. It was #live4Mark. I loved that because I think that is something that we can channel our sadness into. Mark only had 19 years to share his love and joy with us, but as a collective we can live out his memory by doing good works and continuing to tell his story and keeping the memory alive. Every time you hold a door open for someone or just smile at a person who looks like they’re having a bad day, remember that you are living for Mark. That is how we keep the memory alive.

Finally, Mark, my brother, Make sure to Show ‘em that big smile up in heaven and teach em a little rugby while you're at it. My love for you can’t be put into words, buddy. I already miss you so much. You’re forever in my heart.

I love you always.

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