Actor Mark York, who played property manager Billy Merchant in The Office US, has died following a “brief and unexpected illness”, his family confirmed.
The obituary released by York’s family continued: “Even though he has been paraplegic since 1988, he had such an outgoing, uplifting, positive attitude and personality. He always tried to look at what he could accomplish and do, not what he couldn’t do. He had experienced many travel opportunities and many dreams for the future.”
York first played Billy Merchant in The Office season two episode 12, The Injury. The episode saw Dunder Mifflin boss Michael Scott (played by Steve Carell) bring Merchant in for a Disability Awareness meeting which, unsurprisingly, goes off the rails. The fan favourite episode revolves around Michael burning his foot with a George Foreman grill and comparing the injury to a disability.
York’s character was also the property manager of Scranton Business Park until season six, when Rainn Wilson’s Dwight bought the building and took over. Before Dwight took over, Merchant allowed Michael to set up the Michael Scott Paper Company in a storage room for free.
The Office star Jenna Fischer, who played Pam for the sitcom’s entire run, led the tributes on Twitter, posting: “Mark was a lovely man and a pleasure to work with. Very funny every time. Much love to his family.”
Mark was a lovely man and a pleasure to work with. Very funny every time. Much love to his family. https://t.co/isS2GIbebD— Jenna Fischer (@jennafischer) May 25, 2021
Rainn Wilson (Dwight) and Angela Kinsey (Angela Martin on the show) also paid tribute to the actor on the social media platform.
“R.I.P. Mark York, AKA BILLY MERCHANT from The Office. He was a terrific human, a positive force and a dynamic actor. You will be missed,” Wilson tweeted.
R.I.P. Mark York, AKA BILLY MERCHANT from The Office: https://t.co/qAOGv6Gmqh He was a terrific human, a positive force and a dynamic actor. You will be missed.— RainnWilson (@rainnwilson) May 25, 2021
Angela added: “Very sad to hear about Mark’s passing. He was so talented and kind and will be missed. My thoughts are with his family. May he rest in peace.”
Very sad to hear about Mark’s passing. He was so talented and kind and will be missed. My thoughts are with his family. May he rest in peace. ❤️ https://t.co/Py7Gmtf0Hp— Angela Kinsey🍩 (@AngelaKinsey) May 25, 2021
York was raised in Ohio and had moved to California to purse a career in acting after graduating from Anderson University.
As well as appearing in The Office, York also had roles in crime procedural CSI: NY and 8 Simple Rules. Most recently, York had made an uncredited appearance in Steven Spielberg’s comedy, A.I. Artificial Intelligence.