Starke County has lost a sports icon. Gene Marks, of North Judson, passed away Monday at the age of 80. Marks was an official of several sports but the one he is most famous for is basketball.
WKVI’s Harold Welter was an admirer of Gene Marks. He was asked yesterday what he remembered most about the famous official.
“Gene Marks was one of the greatest promoters of high school sports, ever,” said Welter. “He loved to work with kids and he loved to support kids. It was just a big part of his life.”
Marks was so good that he was selected several times to work the Indiana High School Athletic Association boys tournaments before there was class basketball.
“He officiated State Finals games. I can remember back in the early 1970s when the IHSAA moved the State Finals to Indiana University when they just built the new field house and he was one of the first officials at that tournament officiating in the State Final.”
Many times Gene would come to the radio station before a season began to explain the changes in the rules. He was a stickler on calling a game according to the rules. Harold also remembered something Gene Marks said about WKVI.
“One of the things that Gene told me on several occasions, and I always try to keep this in mind, he said that one of the things that we at WKVI did not do was we did not criticize officials on the air. He said, ‘I go around the State of Indiana and I hear these guys on the radio talking about officials when most of them have never officiated a day in their life!’ He always appreciated the fact that we tried to be positive.”
Gene Marks was given the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s “Center Circle Officials Award” in 2008.