Better times preceded a bitter end for SLO County native found dead in homeless encampment

Mark Edward Lepley will be remembered for his storytelling, warm heart and skill as a commercial fisherman, family members say.

Lepley, 55, a San Luis Obispo High School alumnus who grew up in Avila Beach, was found dead Nov. 16 of natural causes at a homeless encampment along the railroad tracks.

The county sheriff-coroner has determined that his death was caused by liver disease, according to Sheriff’s officials.

Grieving family members said they tried repeatedly to help Lepley as he battled health and substance abuse problems. Although his recent personal struggles are too painful for them to discuss, they were happy to share fonder memories.

Lepley’s mother, Dolores Lepley, said her son grew up in Avila Beach; he was a fourth-generation San Luis Obispo County resident.

“He was a funny guy,” Dolores Lepley said. “He liked a good story. Basically, he was a warm-hearted, handsome man.”

Dolores Lepley recalled that her son was a good commercial fisherman and often brought in large quantities of fish off the local coast in his younger years. She also said he worked as a carpenter, following in the footsteps of her late husband, Henry Lepley.

“I’m very sad,” she said.

Mark Lepley was a terrific surfer and loved spending time hiking and going on hunting excursions, family members said.

A history buff, Lepley also loved watching the History Channel, said Lucy Lepley, Mark’s sister-in-law. “He’d like to talk about current events, and he was very articulate about them,” she said.

Besides his mother, Mark Lepley is survived by his daughter, Katya Lepley Goodman; son, Jeremy Hollis; sisters, Catherine Castro and Louise Lyons Appleton; and brother, Henry Lepley.