Mark Stokes was known for his quick wit and good nature. A trustee has reflected that "just seeing his warm smile, genuine greeting and interest in you is God’s message to all of us. Thank you Mark for living God’s message of loving others."
The Tusculum College community suffered the loss of one of its most respected and beloved members with the passing of Chaplain Mark Stokes on the evening of October 13.
Both Mark and his wife, Jeanne, are among the most well known and respected representatives of Tusculum College in the community at large. In his 26 years at Tusculum, Mark provided leadership in a variety of areas at Tusculum including admission, student affairs, development and facilities management and had been commissioned as chaplain in February 2014. Jeanne Stokes joined Tusculum more than 20 years ago and serves as the director of the TRIO Programs.
“Mark Stokes made an incredible impact on Tusculum College, this community and the lives of all those with whom he came into contact,” said Dr. Nancy B. Moody, president of Tusculum. “Mark’s faith served as a beacon for others and his smile a light of friendship. He was solid, quick with a laugh and worked as hard as he could to get the things done he was asked to do. He was part of the ‘Over the Hill’ gang who came to breathe life back into Tusculum College when it needed it badly and was the last of those to remain here.
“In his more than 25 years at the College, Mark was a chameleon, doing whatever task was needed to be done to advance the College as long as it was moral, ethical and legal. He was beloved by all and made a special place in his heart for students. As chaplain he became known for having an open door to our students, providing an ear when they were in times of trouble, indecision or crisis. He and Jeanne on several occasions opened their home to students in need. He was so well suited in his final role at the college, as chaplain and liaison for community relations. It just suited him. He was a true representative of Tusculum College. He was the kind of person that just cannot be replaced.”
Stokes came to Tusculum in 1989 as vice president of enrollment management, heading Tusculum’s admission efforts. Through the years, he also headed student affairs, institutional advancement, facilities management and served as vice president of administration, overseeing such diverse areas as the museums, information systems and building projects.
In addition, Stokes served Tusculum as its primary liaison with the Presbyterian Church USA for many years. He attended meetings of the Holston Presbytery and Presbytery of East Tennessee as Tusculum’s representative, served on committees of both presbyteries and helped coordinate College Days for both presbyteries, in which representatives from Tusculum would speak about the College during church services. He coordinated the annual Theologian-in-Residence lecture series for many years. He also coordinated the updating and renewal of covenants between the College and the Holston Presbytery, the Presbytery of East Tennessee and the Synod of Living Waters.
Mark Stokes was recognized for 25 years of service of Tusculum College in 2014. He is wearing a stole that was made for him to celebrate his commissioning as chaplain.
After the retirement of long-time chaplain Dr. Steve Weisz, Stokes assumed responsibility for weekly chapel services and special services for Christmas and Easter as part of his duties as then director of church and community relations. He also began three years of study to be commissioned as a Ruling Elder (formerly known as a Lay Pastor) in Holston Presbytery and the Presbyterian Church (USA). After commissioning as a Ruling Elder, he was commissioned as chaplain at Tusculum in February 2014 and again during the Tusculum College Sunday service at First Presbyterian Church of Greeneville the following April.
Stokes was a longtime member of First Presbyterian Church in Greeneville, serving in important leadership roles there as well including elder, teacher and choir member.
He was also well known in the community for his significant roles in the Kiwanis Club of Greeneville, as a member of the Green Coat Committee of the Greene County Partnership and other community organizations. Stokes served twice as president of the Greeneville Kiwanis Club and was a former Lt. Governor of the Kiwanis division of which the local club is part.
A memorial service for Stokes on campus is being planned and will be announced once details are confirmed.