In Memory

Mark Gustafson VIEW PROFILE

Mark Gustafson

Mark Steve Gustafson

June 10, 1947-August 27,2021


Mark Steve Gustafson, affectionately called "Gus" by those that knew and loved him, passed away on August 27th, 2021 after a long battle with dementia/chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Mark was born in Corvallis, Oregon on June 10th, 1947 to Helen and Lee Gustafson. He spent his younger years in Salem, Oregon before moving back to Corvallis in 1961. He made quite an impression, quickly becoming a notable athlete at Corvallis High School.

Mark was a prep All American in football and was selected to play in the Shriner's East-West Bowl as a senior in 1965. An honor only achieved by the most accomplished athletes.

Mark and his brother Gary were fortunate to play football for one year together before Gary graduated. Coached by their father, Lee Gustafson, newspaper articles described them as the Gustafson brothers being the "big guns in the Corvallis attack." Mark's athletic prowess didn't stop on the football field, but also carried over into golf. In 1965, he was on the state championship team, coached by his father. Mark also played basketball and was a three year letterman. The articles in the local Gazette Times were so frequent, they started referring to him just as "Mark". A newspaper article was quoted as saying "An argument could be made that Mark was one of, if not the best, all around multi-sport athlete ever to come out of high school in the state of Oregon."

Mark's college years continued to showcase his talents. He was recruited to play football for UCLA by Coach Tommy Prothro and he was an English Literature major. He received a full scholarship and by 1966 he was named rookie of the year and one of the" best defensive backs in the entire West." He gained All-Conference (Pac-8) recognition in both 1967 and 1968 along with O.J. Simpson and Gary Beban. A rare distinction. In tandem with his football career Mark was also a member of the Bruin golf team and an accomplished "scratch golfer". Another newspaper article was also quoted as saying "Mark was perhaps the best golfer that ever played football in those days."

After college he moved to Idaho for a year to work on his brother in-law's cattle ranch. The time he spent on the ranch would later become one of the most memorable experiences of his younger years. He frequently reminisced about his "cowboy" days, Mark eventually moved back to Corvallis and in 1987 went to work as a Sales Rep. for Sherwin Williams, where he would spend the next 25 years until retirement. It is said that if you love your job, you never have to work. If that is so, then Mark never worked a day in his life.

Mark was a Renaissance man who blended Shakespeare, sports, and a passionate desire for social conscience and humanitarian justice. In a different era, with a different focus, his athletic gifts would have carried him into the NFL, or the PGA, but his life's direction was set in the turbulence and awakening of the 1960's, and he didn't miss a minute of the magic and music and fundamental change it brought. He was passionate about literature and always had a good read close by. He was also zealous about film, and usually had a movie recommendation at the ready – many of the movies his friends might never have heard of if not for him. He was a loving and very proud father to daughter Jasmine, who he raised from a very young age and always had a special bond. His partner of 22 years, Jeanne, who he originally met in grade school and re-connected with later in life shared many adventures, lots of love and laughter. Mark was fiercely loyal as a friend to many, always there whenever he was needed. He had a razor-sharp wit that could dissolve people in laughter, calling a spade a spade, and an admirable amount of humility.

Those who saw Mark through the lens of athletic achievement saw a remarkably gifted athlete, but if that's all they saw they missed most of the man. He was so much more, and he had the keen insight to keep those gifts in perspective, while he created a multi-dimensional life integrating and honoring all his talents. Mark will be greatly missed by his family and the friends he so cherished.

Mark is survived by his brother Gary Gustafson, sister Terrie Taylor, daughter Jasmine (Gustafson )Patterson, partner Jeanne Griggs, step daughters Ashley( Griggs) DeGiacomo and Lindsay (Griggs) Hammes, nieces Shannon Gaines, Kim Duffy, Shawn Schneider, Wendy Gabriel, Tani Theiler and nephew J. Shane Newcomb, as well as many grand nieces and nephews.

A celebration of Life will be held in Mark's memory at Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis, Oregon summer of 2022, pending Covid restrictions.

*Donations can be made in Mark's memory to The Concussion Legacy Foundation.


go to bottom 
  Post Comment

09/18/21 11:31 AM #1    

Roger Warren

I'm sorry for your loss.  The concussion legacy foundation is an organization I'm happy to support. Thanks for the suggestion.

09/18/21 11:56 PM #2    

Sandy Cheldelin


Who did not love Mark/Gus?  This is a wonderful reflection of what I suspect are just a few of the highlights of his life.  Thank you.  I send deep condolescences to his family and loved ones and want to celebrate his life that sounds amazing.  I agree with Roger--thank you for suggesting ways we can recognize important  issues for his legacy.  May he RIP!




09/19/21 10:59 AM #3    

Don Williams

I am saddened by Mark succumbed to a common malady of high level football players. I played in sports with him and he always treated the players around him with respect. I broke my wrist and was unable continue playing football but met up with him during track.  My sympathy goes to the family and am sorry for your loss.

09/19/21 08:18 PM #4    

Michael Lyne

Sincere condolences to all of Mark's relatives and close friends. To say he was an outstanding classmate is a bit of an understatement. To have a sports writer classify him with the likes of Terry Baker, the greatest 3 sports athlete in Oregon history in both high school and college is quite a feat. I was privy to a few family nuances in junior high and high school as Helen Gustafson worked with my mother at First National Bank in Corvallis. As for the care givers and others, a thank you seems not quite enough appreciation for the years of help they gave,. I sufferred  a few concussions growing up in the woods before my father was transferred to Corvallis so I understand what living with the problem is like, One day we all will be able to say what Isaiah 33:4 says, "No resident will say they are sick."  Keep praying for God's kingdom to come on earth as it is in the heaven.

09/20/21 04:20 PM #5    

Alan Sharpnack

I came to know Mark at Highland View Junior High, in particular on the 9th grade basketball team.  I was on the team, whereas Mark was the team.  The Highland View yearbook, the Tam O’Shanter, records that Mark scored 43% of the teams’ points that year.

When we were in junior high Mark heard that I played golf, so he invited me to play with him at the Corvallis Country Club.  I thought I was a decent golfer but was completely overwhelmed by Mark.  He played some on the CHS varsity golf team that year while in the 9th grade, which was pretty much unheard of.  I believe he received a varsity letter that year which meant he lettered 4 years…maybe the only CHS athlete ever to do that in any sport?

Once in high school, Mark excelled in football, basketball and golf.  If he had had time to squeeze in baseball he would have excelled at that too.  I remember hearing that he was an excellent pitcher in Salem before the family moved to Corvallis. 

I didn't have many classes with Mark, but we were both in Mr. Thetford’s speech class our junior year and I recall observing that Mark was a kind person, treating other classmates with respect.  My sympathies go out to Mark’s family and friends and pray that God will comfort and bless you.

go to top 
  Post Comment


Click here to see Mark's last Profile entry.