John Mark Stallings, son of former University of Alabama head football coach Gene Stallings, died this morning.
John Mark Stallings' health was fragile for years from coping with a congenital heart defect.John Mark Stallings, who had Down syndrome, turned 46 years old on June 11. He lived with Gene Stallings on the family’s ranch in Powderly, Texas, near Paris. His health was fragile for years from coping with a congenital heart defect.
“I’ve known John Mark Stallings his entire life,” said Mal Moore, Alabama’s director of athletics. “I want to extend my deepest sympathy to Coach Stallings, Ruth Ann and the entire Stallings family. For someone who never played or coached a game, I think John Mark may have touched more Alabama fans than any other person ever did. I would like to thank the Stallings family for sharing their love for John Mark with all of us.”
Ruth Ann Stallings, John Mark’s father, discussed what it was like to raise a child with Down syndrome at the time, in the book “Another Season: A Coach’s Story of Raising an Exceptional Son,” with Gene Stallings co-authored with writer Sally Cook:
“Things were different back then. People didn’t know how to react to the news,” Ruth Ann Stallings said. “Some didn’t acknowledge his existence; others would look away in his presence. I’d dress him so cute, his blonde hair shining, blue eyes so excited when he’d meet someone. Often, they’d compliment the girls, never looking his way.” She sighs. “You remember the people who stepped forward and those who didn’t.”
Funeral arrangements for John Mark Stallings are pending.
For a wonderful tribute by BigDawg, click HERE. Rest in Peace John Mark. Roll Tide will never be the same.