Marcus Mullings, a well-known and ever-present member of the ACU and Abilene community, passed away on March 8, 2022, at the age of 89 of natural causes.
Born in Cincinnati, Mullings grew up in Abilene with his father, Dr. Marcus E. Mullings, a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics from 1935 to 1973, spending most of those years as the department chair.
Mullings graduated high school from Abilene Christian High School. He then spent time in the U.S. Army before returning to Abilene. Here, he spent most of his time around the university, developing relationships during the 1950s with the men of Frater Sodalis. He could be seen with them at the Dixie Pig after club meetings on Wednesday nights.
Dr. Charlie Marler, professor emeritus of journalism and mass communication, struck up a friendship with Mullins while Marler was a student.
“He was an unofficial member of Frats because he was a friendly guy,” said Marler. “You couldn’t help but like him.”
This friendship continued into recent years when they could be seen with a group of men that meets at McDonald’s every Thursday night.
Mullings spent much of his time on campus in the Bean or sitting in on a class. While never officially enrolled at the university, Mullings was known to audit many courses throughout his life as he would gain the knowledge provided by the professor.
Along with this, Mullings was known to frequent the Brown Library and read textbooks to learn. Many of his close friends, such as Dr. Neal Coates, chair of the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice, said there was nothing Mullings didn’t know something about.
“Marcus was one of the most well-read and most well educated you will ever meet,” Coates said. “His house on the 1400th block of Cedar Crest was quite literally littered with things that he had an interest in.”
Coates and Mullings became friends through Boy Scout Troop 201, of which Coates was an adult volunteer. Mullings was also an adult volunteer and was known to come to the meeting to teach the young scouts lessons about the earth, birds and his favorite, the migration of Monarch butterflies.
His father-built Mullings’s house on Cedar Crest in the 1930s. The house had become dilapidated after more than 85 years. Along with this, Mullings lived minimally with no utilities other than water.
Mullings would always have an open-door policy for anyone who needed a place to stay. Though in his later years, he moved into an apartment across the street while still always having the dream of fixing the house up for people to have a place to stay.
Mullings attended several churches, attending services, potlucks and holiday celebrations, throughout his life. Mullings’s life in Christ was the most important thing to him, said friends.
Most notably, he attended University Church of Christ for many years, though faithfully attended Bar Church at Memories Bar in Abilene in the past few years.
Dodd Roberts, director of Halbert Center for Missions and Global Service, once saw Mullings reading a Turkish dictionary in a store. Mullings had heard about a large group of Turkish Muslim immigrants in Germany. Naturally, he wanted to tell them about Jesus, Roberts said.
Roberts and Mullings developed a relationship on Christmas day in 2015. Roberts and his family were playing disc golf at the course behind Smith-Adams dormitory.
When Roberts spotted a man in a Santa hat and spoke to him for a while. It was Mullings. This created a relationship with one of the most interesting and loving people Roberts had ever met.
“If you spent five minutes talking to Marcus, you might not really think what he was saying made a lot of sense,” said Roberts. “But if you spent five hours talking to Marcus, you would have a great conversation. You’d laugh, be informed, and make a friend.”
Roberts says until recently, Mullings could still be seen riding around town on his bike, for which he always carries spare inner tubes. As his only means of transportation, he went through many bicycles in his life, and while some of them were stolen, Roberts said Mullings was also known to have given his bike to someone in need.
Mullings is survived by his nephews Benjamin and Matthew Morris. Mullings was preceded in death by his father, Marcus E. Mullings, and his mother, Dixie H. Morris, and his brothers, Lynn Mullings, Raymond Mullings and Gunter Mullings.
Funeral services took place at University Church of Christ on March 25, with a follow up graveside service at Abilene Municipal Cemetery.