Alphonse Marks, one of Mississippi's first black Extension Service members, was posthumously inducted into the 2004 National 4-H Hall of Fame. Marks was a Pike County Extension Service agent for more than 30 years. During his tenure, he was recognized by his community and peers for his leadership, intense work habits and people skills with six Extension distinguished and meritorious awards.
“Mr. Marks was a leader in the consolidation of black and white in Mississippi Extension. His career within Extension was diverse, but his passion was for youth,” said Morris Houston, MSU Extension 4-H development specialist. “He took the diversity around him and brought it into one focus: success through partnership, especially in his work with 4-H youth.”
As an Extension county agent, Marks' focus was on community and resource development, 4-H development and agriculture. With his guidance, 19 4-H members became national winners, 14 regional winners and 41 state winners in various competitions.
“In the last few years of his life, Mr. Marks required dialysis several times a week, but his door was always open and his advice and council were sought and freely given,” Houston said.
Marks was a 1941 graduate of Alcorn State University. He received a master's degree from the University of Illinois. He served as Pike County Chapter president of the Alcorn State University Alumni. He received several honors from his alma mater, including the M.M. Hubert and Notable Achievement awards.
Marks received service awards from the Mississippi Association of County Agents, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation and Stabilization Service, Mississippi 4-H, Mississippi Pork Producers Association, Metro-Pike Industrial Foundation Inc. and Pike County Salvation Army. He also received the Outstanding Service Award from Mississippi 4-H and the Outstanding Citizen Award from Pike County Omicron Jr. Federated Club.
Marks served in the U.S. Army Engineer Corps from 1942-45. He was a vocational agriculture teacher for five years, Mississippi Extension marketing specialist for five years and a Pike County supervisor for eight years.
Marks also served as president of the Mississippi 4-H Advisory Council, the Mississippi County Agent Association and the Southwest District 4-H Leaders Association. The 4-H volunteer leader served as first vice-president of the 4-H Club Foundation of Mississippi and committee chair of the Mississippi Supervisors' Association. He worked diligently to support and fund various Pike County efforts.
Marks, who recently was selected to have his name affixed to a wing of the Mississippi 4-H Museum now under construction, was active in the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, Salvation Army Board of Directors, Rho Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi, Masons, American Legion, Red Cross and the Baptist church.
Marks is survived by his wife, Mary B. Marks, and three sons, Brown Marks, Michael Marks and Robert Marks.
Sponsored by the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents, the virtual 4-H Hall of Fame features Web pages for each inductee and includes biographies, photos, 4-H statistics and quotes. Visit the National 4-H Hall of Fame at http://www.nae4ha.org/hof.
Marks is the third Mississippian to be inducted into the national 4-H Hall of Fame. In 2002, William Hall “Corn Cob” Smith, considered by many to be one of the founders of 4-H, was inducted. The late Francis Jefferson Lundy was inducted in 2003. For more information about Mississippi's 4-H program, contact Holder at 662-325-3352.