Obituary: John Mark Stallings

Official obituary of John Mark Stallings
John Mark Stallings, 46, of Powderly, left his earthly life on Saturday August 2, 2008 at Paris Regional Medical Center. Starrett Funeral Home will conduct funeral services at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday August 5th, 2008 at the Lamar Avenue Church of Christ, Paris, Texas, with Patrick Cannon and Johnny’s former minister George Bailey officiating. Johnny’s four brothers-in-law Tim, David, John and Keith will also participate in the service. Interment rites will follow at Hike-A-Way Ranch in Powderly, Texas.

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The family will receive friends from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Monday at Starrett Funeral Home.

Johnny was born on June 11, 1962 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama the son of Gene and Ruth Ann Stallings. From the beginning the outlook for his life was bleak, but with the aid and encouragement of a loving family Johnny persevered and grew into the kind of man who impacted for the good all who met him. His sweet spirit and innocence of character were cause for affection, and his pervading sense of all that was right gave those who knew him the knowledge that Johnny was not of this world, but was destined for a better place where his perfect spirit would join a perfect body.

Though the years of his earthly life were short, he dramatically changed the lives of thousands of people and he was formally recognized in many ways. A biography of his life, Another Season, was written by his father Gene Stallings and Sally Cook. He received an Honorary High School Diploma from Dallas Christian High School, and Abilene Christian University presented him the “Change the World” Award. The Equipment Room at the University of Alabama Athletic Facility was named “The John Mark Stallings Equipment Room,” and the playground at the R.I.S.E. program at the University of Alabama was christened “The John Mark Stallings Playground.” His constant and unique relationship with his father in the world of sports led to Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama naming their new football playing field “The John Mark Stallings Field.” Johnny was named a Paul Harris Fellow in Rotary International, and was made an Honorary Marine by the United States Marine Corps.

The Texas A&M Class of 1957 endowed The John Mark Stallings Medical School Scholarship, and he proudly represented the State of Texas in the International Special Olympics. Johnny was featured in the only United Way commercial for the NFL, which ran for two years, and he received the Alabama Sports Festival Medal which was carried on the Space Shuttle. He kicked off “First Down for Downs” associated with the NFL Arizona Cardinals, and served as Grand Marshall of numerous parades. Johnny appeared on the Today Show, Dateline and an ABC Special.

He was featured in Peoples Magazine, Readers Digest and numerous christian publications. He was baptized in 1985 in Dallas, Texas. He assisted in teaching the four year old Sunday School Class at several congregations. Johnny cut the ribbon and dedicated the Stallings Center, which is home to the R.I.S.E. program on the campus of the University of Alabama. His favorite football teams were the Texas A&M Aggies, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Dallas Cowboys. Johnny had the honor of having his photograph taken with three United States Presidents.

He leaves behind to cherish his memory his parents, Gene Stallings and Ruth Ann Jack Stallings; four sisters, Anna Lee Young, Laurie Vanderpool, Jackie Chalk, and Martha Kate Gunn; brothers-in-law Tim Young, David Vanderpool, John Chalk, and Keith Gunn; nieces Katherine Lee Young, Ashlee Young, Jacklyn Vanderpool, Laurie Beth Chalk, Anna Kate Gunn, Laura Lee Gunn, and Mary Claire Gunn; and nephews David Stallings Vanderpool, John Mark Vanderpool, and John Clifton Chalk.

Named to serve as Johnny’s pallbearers are Cedric Burns, Roy Lee Castleberry, Larry Claborn, Benji Faulkner, Pete Hanna, Kyle Jones, Carroll Larue, Bill McDonald and Jerry Tubbs. Named as honorary pallbearers are Bradley Block, Joe Daniels, George Dillman, James Dockery, Cliff Harris, Jim Harrison, Don McCaskill, Herchell McClain, Paul McClain, Charlie Parkman, Charlie Waters and Dan Wisely.

Memorials may be made to the R.I.S.E. program, at Stallings Center, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487; The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 9400 North Central Expressway, Suite 1201, Dallas, TX 75231; or to the Lamar Avenue Church of Christ Youth Program, 3535 Lamar Avenue, Paris, TX 75460.