Down But Not Out

by
Mark Hill and his siblings

Security Representative Mark Hill grew up in a one-bedroom apartment above a sporting goods store with his father, Floyd, in Akron, OH. At age 13, he learned the man he knew as his father actually adopted him at 22 months old, after his mother left. It didn’t matter to Mark because Floyd symbolized everything he […]

Security Representative Mark Hill grew up in a one-bedroom apartment above a sporting goods store with his father, Floyd, in Akron, OH. At age 13, he learned the man he knew as his father actually adopted him at 22 months old, after his mother left. It didn’t matter to Mark because Floyd symbolized everything he believed in, and they shared a bond. At age 9, Mark also became his father’s caregiver. They lived off a $150 monthly disability check. It kept a roof over their heads but little food in their stomachs. Floyd was very giving of his time and was a proud man. With little to no food to eat, he would cry and ask Mark to go to a friend’s house to eat. Without a word, those moms would often send food home for his dad, too.

A Role Model Until the End

Mark’s attention to school declined over the years, except for sports. His father volunteered with youth organizations, like Pee Wee football, so sports became a nice distraction for Mark. What he lacked in academics, he made up for as an athlete. Mark’s father didn’t hold him accountable for his grades and often made excuses for him. Mark guessed as a way to make up for their financial situation and lack of a mother. His father never remarried, dated or took off his wedding ring.

In their one-bedroom apartment, they slept in beds side by side and watched an old, black and white TV, the one with bunny ears and tin foil on it. For entertainment, the two listened to tunes from Johnny Cash and The Jackson 5. The richness of their lives couldn’t be measured in dollars and cents. As his father’s health continued to fail, Mark worked at an ice cream shop to help support them. His world shattered the day his aunt and uncle walked into the shop. He knew in that moment what happened. His father passed away when Mark was 17 and a junior in high school. “I never recovered from my father dying at the young age of 42. He was the most giving human being I know,” Mark remembered. “If there was anything I could change about my life, it would be to have my father here.”

A New Path

Rather than rely on charity from family or enter foster care, Mark lived on the streets. His bedroom consisted of a railroad box car and his bathtub was a gas station sink. “I never stole or carried a weapon,” Mark said proudly. Sometimes he did fight to keep from being robbed of his father’s monthly $65 Social Security check.
Mark quit high school and joined the military. Structure and routine served him well as he excelled. He even became a boxer, and this time around he fought for recreation instead of survival. He made the all-Army boxing team and reigned as middleweight champion in 1981. His fights were sometimes televised on ESPN. In a strange turn of events, one of the people watching a fight was his stepbrother.

A Chip Off the Old Block

After leaving the military, Mark attended high school full time to earn his diploma. He went on to Kent State and started a career in law enforcement. Later, he worked for President Reagan’s security detail, was selected for the diplomatic protection service and helped protect the FBI director. He also worked as a police offer in Canton, OH. He married and became a father to daughter, Ashley. His life changed one day when a woman appeared at the police station with four children. Standing in front of him was his mom, Mary, and Mark’s three stepbrothers and stepsister, who were living in their car. They recognized him on ESPN years ago and tracked him down. He didn’t acknowledge Mary at first. She spoke to him and called him son, but he remembers telling her, she had to get help before they could begin a relationship. “I still become emotional when I think about that day 30 years ago,” Mark remembered.  He said he doubted God when his father died, but regained his faith after joining the military. He knew he couldn’t turn his back on his mom or his siblings.

Mark took responsibility for the oldest, Chip Huth, 14, who later became well-known as the SWAT team commander on the TV show “Kansas City Swat.” Mom and the other siblings moved in with family in Eldon, MO. Today, Mark has 16 family members who work for the Kansas City Police Department. After moving here from Oklahoma a few years ago, at age 56, Mark has now completed the process to become a police officer in Missouri. “So, for the first time, my brothers and I will all be police officers in the same state,” Mark said.

In 2015, he drove into Kansas City with his belongings in a U-Haul and has felt welcome ever since.

Now, all the siblings live in the Kansas City area, and the connection between Mark, his mom and siblings is stronger and better than ever. They are making up for lost time.

Kim Shopper

Kim Shopper

Kim has worked at NKCH for 30 years where she produces the employee newsletter and manages internal campaigns. She serves on the Living With Diabetes Advisory Board and the Chip In For Charity Open golf committee. She is passionate about animal rescue and volunteers for the Parkville Animal Shelter.

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