One of the most unselfish athletes in Memorial High School history, Mark Taylor was a member of six championship teams in football, basketball, and track during his varsity career.
“I coached Mark in track and football and he excelled in both sports, “former Memorial coach Forrest Reed recalls. “He was the sixth man on two state championship basketball teams, but he could have started for almost every other team in the Ozark Conference.
“Mark, however, was content to sit on the bench and fill in as needed. He was a team player in the true sense of the word. He gave his team everything he had.”
The son of Carl and Jacque Taylor, he started at free safety on defense and alternated at slotback on offense on Memorial’s state championship football team in 1976, during his junior year. He played a key role defensively for the Eagles, picking off four enemy passes. Mark, a backup quarterback as a junior, started for Reed’s Eagles as a senior and threw more than 1,000 yards.
“We had an all-state receiver in Tim Harrell that year,” he said, downplaying his own ability.
Taylor was outstanding in track. He was a member of the 1978 memorial team that won the state team championship and ran on state champion mile relay teams as a junior and senior. The mile relay unit medaled during Mark’s sophomore year.
He finished second in the 800 as a senior, posting a time of 1:57.2. That stood as a Joplin record until it was broken by Wade Souza in 2002.
Mark said Memorial held the mile relay record of 3:21 for about 10 years. Mark, Doug Steele and Time Harrell ran on the relay team both years. Minor Reppond was the fourth member in 1977 and John Warden completed the victorious quartet the next year.
Mark has been married to the former Terry Roper since 1980 and they have three children: Andrea, 22, a recent graduate of Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar; Grant, 21, Bloomington, Illinois, and Logan, 17, who will be a senior at Joplin High School next year.
A 1982 gradate of Missouri Southern State University, Mark played football three years for the Lions.
He has been employed at St. John’s Regional Medical since 1990 as an Interface Engineer in the Information Technology Department.
Mark is still an active sports enthusiast, competing in 5k and 15k runs and playing slow pitch softball. He completed the Dallas White Rock Marathon in 2001 and has completed the Tulsa 15k more than 20 times.