Who Is Marcus?


Marcus explored the world with his limitless imagination and sense of adventure, which persevered despite the fact he couldn’t see or hear.

Born in 1970, Marcus was deaf and had a degenerative eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa, that would eventually leave him severely blind — both conditions are a part of a disorder called Usher’s Syndrome. He also had autism and Tourette’s Syndrome.

All of this never stopped him.

He wanted to do all the things everyone else did. So, he learned to swim, went to church and even tried to drive the family car (thankfully, no one was hurt). Among his other solo adventures: Riding Chicago’s L Train, taking a bus in Mexico to a mall where he could get a McDonald’s hamburguesa and spending two years learning at Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) in Sands Point, New York.

He moved through the world with cane in hand and fanny pack fastened to his waist, which was filled with the essentials for adventure and independence:  His ID, money and a reporter-sized notebook and pen to communicate with the non-deaf world.  He preferred to express his thoughts through tactile sign language.

After he left HKNC, Marcus came back to St. Louis.  Determined to be independent, Marcus worked at several different places and moved out of his parents’ house into an apartment with a deaf roommate. His work included potting plants at a local greenhouse and rolling silver at restaurants.  You can even check out his video resume.

At 26, Marcus slipped and fell after work at Uno’s Pizzeria. A month later, his hip injury soon revealed Stage 4 rhabdomyosarcoma. He died from this cancer two months later, on July 4, 1997.