A warm Friends and Neighbors salute to former Miamians Harry Coaxum, chairman of the Board of Trustees of Talladega College; John Marks, mayor of Tallahassee, and Ronald Blocker, superintendent of the Orange County Public Schools. The three men will be honored as Home Town Successes by the Historic Hampton House Community Trust at a luncheon to be at noon Saturday at the Church of the Open Door (Congregational) United Church of Christ, 6001 NW Eighth Ave. in Liberty City.
Coaxum is a product of Brownsville’s Bethune Elementary and graduated from Edison High School and Talladega College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. He also is a graduate of Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Coaxum recently retired as vice president and general manager for McDonald’s Corporation, Atlanta Region, where he was in charge of providing leadership for 790 restaurants in Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee. Together, the restaurants earned approximately $2 billion in annual revenues. Coaxum will be introduced by his brother Henry, also an Edison and Talladega graduate, and owner of seven McDonald’s restaurants in New Orleans. Coaxum’s mother Myrtle Coaxum and two sisters Betty Coaxum and Loretta Stokes, still live in Miami.
Marks, who practices law with his son, also grew up in the Brownsville area of Miami-Dade and is a graduate of Florida State University. In 1979, he was appointed by Gov. Bob Graham to serve on the Florida Public Service Commission, where he served for eight years; the last two as the commission’s chairman.
Marks has been an adjunct professor at Florida State University College of Law, where he taught utility regulatory law and was a faculty member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Utility Rate School. He was elected mayor of Tallahassee in 2002 and was reelected in 2006 and 2010.
His mother, Mildred Marks, still lives in the Brownsville area. At the luncheon, Marks will be introduced by the Rev. Dr. Ralph Ross, senior pastor of the Historic Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Overtown, where Marks received his early Christian education and nurturing and where his family was pioneers.
Blocker is a graduate of Miami Jackson High School and the University of Florida. He received h is early Christian education and nurturing at the Church of the Open Door and since 2000, he has been superintendent of Orange County Public Schools, the nation’s 10th largest school district. Under his leadership, Orange County Public Schools has had its highest graduation rate in its history and the dropout rate is at its lowest in the history of the district.
In 2011, Blocker was named Florida Superintendent of the Year by the Florida Association of District Superintendent. He also received the inaugural Administrator Advocacy Award from the Florida Media in Education as well as many other awards, including being ranked eighth by the Orlando Magazine on a list of the 150 most powerful people in Central Florida. In 2010. The Orlando Sentinel Panel of Community Leaders named him among the top 25 most powerful people in Central Florida.
Blocker’s late mother Ethel Blocker was a well known community activist. His sister Ruby Rayford, is a retired educator who still lives in the Miami area. At the luncheon, Blocker will be introduced by Charlayne W. Thompkins, a classmate and fellow member of the Church of the Open Door’s Pilgrim Fellowship Youth Group.