And with the recent news of his passing at the age of 53, and the loss of this most beloved coach and teacher, it’s the message he wished to share that day, full of hope and faith, that touched all who learned his story.
A 1974 graduate and linebacker for the Macon County High School Tigers, Mark furthered his education and football career at Tennessee Tech.
After college, Mark purchased Championship Trophies in Lafayette and began his coaching and teaching career at Macon County High School.
With a passion for understanding science, Mark passed on his enthusiasm to each student he encountered, commenting once that, “There’s nothing else I’d want to teach. It’s interesting, always advancing, and well . . . it’s life.”
In February of 2006, Mark’s own life came to halt when the active 50-year-old was diagnosed with cancer, forcing him to take a break from his teaching duties.
After surgery and a positive review by his doctor, he returned to school and celebrated his recovery with a family motorcycle ride to Gettysburg.
During the trip, Mark and his wife Lynn were involved in an accident that threw them from their bikes, a horrific event that would essentially lead doctors to discover much more than broken bones and bruises.
Admitted to the hospital for a hip operation following the accident, Mark’s doctor discovered through a blood test, that his cancer had returned, this time spreading to his liver and progressing to an inoperable state.
Mark shared his comments on the personal struggle he dealt with daily during that time in his life saying, “A lot of people in this world don’t have a lot of faith, but I’m a big believer. I feel like it’s out of my hands, and it’s up to God now. He gives us the knowledge to help ourselves and he has more plans for me, I’ll stay, and if not, I’ll go. I’ll do everything I can until the day that I can’t.”
Valuing the time he spent with family and treasuring each day he was able to teach in the classroom and coach on the football field, Mark found a sense of peace with his disease early on.
“Like anybody, I have moments when it gets me down,” he said in 2006. “But I’ve accepted it, and I’m at peace with it.”
During that time, the community rallied around the man who dedicated his life to teaching others, but even in his final days, he was still teaching us all something – something that couldn’t be taught from the pages of any textbook.
Through his faith and love for his family and friends, Mark spent his time encouraging others to be aware of their health and used his own life to try to save those of others.
“Fifty is the magic number for colon cancer,” he said during our interview three years ago. “I want to encourage everyone to get a colonoscopy. Don’t put it off. It’s an easy procedure that can save your life.”
Besides his wife, Lynn, Mark is survived by; Son, Derrick and Fiancé Erin Brown of Lafayette, TN, Daughter, Dana and husband Russ Winkler of Lebanon, TN, Father, Clifton Shrum of Lafayette, TN, Brother, Phillip Dean and wife Jill Shrum of Goodlettsville, TN, Sisters, Marilyn and husband Billy Randolph of Antioch, TN, Priscilla and husband Patrick Watson of Brentwood, TN, One Grandson, Logan McClain Winkler, and dedicated friend until the end, Bob Fitzpatrick of Lafayette, TN.
For a detailed obituary, see page B-3.