On Sunday, August 15, the African American Gallery will unveil its newest exhibit honoring the life and career of Lee Marks, former track and field coach for Guilford High School. This exhibit will be on display until the end of October.
Lee Marks, the son of Otis and Corine Marks, was born in Carthage, Arkansas on November 17, 1944. His family moved to Rockford, Illinois when he was three years old. As a youngster, Lee participated in baseball, football and track. Lee attended Rockford Public Schools. After graduating from West High School in 1962, he attended Sioux Falls College where Lee ran track and played football.
After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree, Lee began his teaching career as a fifth grade teacher in the Rockford Public School District in 1966. In 1967, Lee was hired at Guilford High School as a physical education teacher as well as an assistant football and assistant track coach. Lee served 35 years as a teacher. The position of Head Boys Track Coach began in 1969, making Lee the first African American head coach of any sport in the Rockford Public Schools.
Lee devoted 47 years coaching track at Guilford High School. Over those years, he received a Master's Degree from the University of Illinois as well as several awards. Most recently, Lee was awarded the Rockford Register Star Distinguished Service Award in 2016 prior to his death. Recently, the Rockford School District #205 Board of Education officially named the outdoor track at Swanson Stadium The Lee Marks Memorial Track.
Lee was married to his wife Karen for fifty years. To this union they had three daughters Cynthia, Valerie, and Allison. Lee died June 17, 2017. His family is excited for the fact that Lee's legacy will remain in teh community forever.