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Mark Stephen Slade was born Nov. 14, 1960, in Gulfport, Miss., the caboose of the seven children of Norma and Bernie Slade, Sr. He died Feb. 28, 2023, at the age of 62.
Mark grew up in Broadmoor, which wasn’t a bad place to be a kid — streets lined with modest houses, a nearby park, and schools within walking distance. The ’hood was always bustling, and Mark was always in the middle of everything. This was a place where kids ran around barefoot, rode bikes, built forts, explored the woods, and roller skated around in blissful ignorance of the world at large. Mark and his many neighborhood friends (the “Big Desert Gang”) stirred up their share of mischief and then some.
Mark got a generous dose of Slade musical talent, and when he was a teen, he taught himself to play guitar. He would practice in the family room, blasting his tunes from powerful amps. The entire neighborhood was treated to Mark’s rendition of “Smoke on the Water,” played at max level over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. He made his mark on the Gulf Coast music scene, playing and singing with countless bands. His fellow musicians respected and appreciated his talent. The Galloways of Harmony Grits band, with whom he often played, said he was a true pro who could just show up, having had no practice, and play every song all night. He could get a crowd up and dancing. Singer/songwriter Michael Vincent wrote a song about Mark, “Gator’s Lament,” and he has posted it on YouTube as a tribute to Mark. You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9H-ltpRlDU.
Gator has been Mark’s nickname for as long as anyone can remember. No one seems to have a straight story about how that name came about. But people who can’t recall whether they know Mark will, when you mention Gator, grin from ear to ear and start telling Gator stories.
There was nothing Mark couldn’t do. He could build a house – or anything, fix a car, fix any appliance, fix a boat — and by fix, I mean take apart and reassemble, piece by piece. And he did everything well. His friends benefited greatly from this, as Mark would drop everything to go help anybody with anything without expecting anything in return. Years ago, one of Mark’s (and our) sisters and her husband remodeled their house. As the framing was being done, carpenters discovered that a critical measurement was off. It was our brother Mark who figured out an easy fix, preventing a costly and regrettable mistake.
We, his siblings, have always been dumbstruck by the number and diversity of people Mark knew and who knew and loved him. Mark was just as comfortable visiting a friend’s posh home as he was spending time with a pal who lived from pillar to post.
Mark leaves behind Rose, a woman who unfailingly saw Mark for who he was: a kind-hearted, generous, sharp-witted, really smart man who just wanted every day to be a fine day. During Mark’s illness and decline, Rose was a fierce advocate for him, handling mountains of paperwork and making sure Mark was cared for and comfortable. To say Rose is a saint is like saying Mother Theresa was nice.
Mark also leaves sons Corey, Ryan, Dana, and Joseph as well as Rose’s daughter, Alyssa. He is predeceased by a daughter, Kaylen. He has five grandchildren, six siblings, and lots of cousins, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews.
Good-time Gator leaves us with innumerable tales that will keep us laughing, crying, shaking our heads, and missing him until we see him again. He's kind of a legend.
Thank you to all who have helped in any way. We appreciate every kindness, effort, gesture, and prayer.
Ricky Bond is organizing a memorial/benefit, and Mark’s friends at Gilligan’s Karaoke Bar & Lounge will hold a benefit for Rose. Details will be forthcoming. If you would like to help or attend, you may contact the following for information as plans gel.
Ricky Bond’s memorial/benefit: https://www.facebook.com/RickyBond007
Gilligan’s Karaoke Bar & Lounge benefit: https://www.facebook.com/gilliganslounge or 228.865.0206
Riemann Family Funeral Home, Gulfport, is serving the family.
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