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Passenger: Mark Bingham

Sunday, October 28, 2001

Mark Bingham was constantly on the move. In New York, New Orleans, San Francisco or Pamplona, Spain -- he visited friends, met with clients of his public relations firm or just traveled around the world in search of good times.

Mark Bingham
dot.gifOwner, The Bingham Group, 31, San Francisco, Calif.
Mother, Alice Hoglan, father, Jerry Bingham, step-mother, Karen Bingham
After a weekend in New York City, he was returning home

His exploits were the stuff of legend among his friends. The time he dressed as a transvestite lumberjack; the hours he spent in jail for tackling the Stanford University mascot at a college football game; being thrown out of New Zealand for a bar scuffle; rescuing a small girl who had wandered into traffic.

He seemed a walking contradiction: gay, yet a staunch Republican; accepting, yet willing to fight bigots; a peacemaker, yet someone who once single-handedly foiled two muggers.

Friends said Bingham was always smiling, always animated. As a young boy he lived on a houseboat three blocks from Miami's Orange Bowl. On Sundays when the Dolphins were in town, he and his mother would let the crowd roar wash over them.

The two of them moved to Monterey, Calif. in the late 1970s. While his mother was out looking for work, the 9-year-old Bingham would go to the Monterey wharf after school and fish for their dinner.

After he grew up, he used his size -- 6 feet, 5 inches, 220 pounds -- to his advantage by playing rugby. His mother, Alice Hoglan, said he first played the bruising game in high school, and she believed his personality blossomed from it. Bingham went on to play at the University of California at Berkeley, and was a member of two national championship teams in the early 1990s.

Timing was a strength. He opened his public relations firm on the cusp of the high-tech growth in the mid-1990s. His mother marveled that he paid three times as much in taxes as she earned.

In July, he and several friends traveled to Pamplona to run with the bulls. They dressed in the traditional white, with red sashes. The first day was so uneventful, they returned for a second running. Bingham was scooped up on the horns of a bull, tossed to the ground and stomped. He loved showing off the hoof print on the back of his left leg.

"He didn't fit into anyone's mold," Hoglan said. "He was a force for good in the world. He just lived his life as if there were no tomorrow. I guess there's a lot of wisdom in that, looking at what happened."

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