Mourners gathered Thursday at SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium to celebrate the life of Mark McCullers. The 46-year-old SMU police officer is presumed to have drowned after being washed away by flood waters in the early morning hours of July 5.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Highland Park Mayor Joel Williams, University Park Mayor Olin Lane and State Rep. Morgan Meyer were on hand to pay their respects. They were joined by representatives from the Dallas, Highland Park and University Park Police Departments, as well as a numerous other North Texas agencies.
“It’s a somber day on the hilltop to say the least,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner.
McCullers was working private security detail at a Highland Park construction site near Turtle Creek when rising water overtook his Dodge Charger sedan. He was last heard from around 1:40 a.m. when he called 911 for help. Footage from a camera on the Fitzhugh Avenue bridge shows McCullers climbing out of his vehicle into the raging waters. The car was later found, but there were no signs of McCullers. The search remains ongoing.
McCullers’ wife Tiffany decided to speak at the memorial saying it was what her husband would have wanted. She called Mark her rock, and said he fiercely loved his children, family and friends without boundaries.
The crowd laughed when Tiffany recalled how Mark used to practice arresting procedures with her.
“I acted like I was kind of annoyed but it was kind of awesome,” she said.
Mark graduated from Bainbridge High School in Georgia in 1990. He enlisted in the Marine Corp and became a military police officer. Mark served for nine years before returning to civilian life.
His next career stop was at Perot Systems in Plano, where he worked his way up to security director. In 2012, Mark accepted a job at Paragon Systems, which was responsible for security at the George Bush Presidential Center. It was here that he first came in contact with the SMU police department.
According to SMU Police Chief Richard Shafer, Mark enjoyed working with the department and eventually decided that he wanted to join the force. However, despite years of experience in the military and with private security firms, state law requires all officers to go through the police training academy.
Mark had dreamed of being a police officer for years, and decided to quit his job at Paragon so he could attend the academy.
“When Mark set a goal, we know he didn’t stop until he completed it,” Shafer said. “Mark had grown to love SMU and the community, and wanted to serve our community as a police officer.”
To make ends meet, Mark moonlighted as a private security officer for Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban while he attended the academy. In February 2015, he fulfilled his lifetime dream when he formally became an SMU police officer.
Tiffany said her husband loved his job, and always put the safety of those around him first. She implored those in attendance to be inspired by the example he set.
“My Mark made his mark on the world, and he has left a mark on me forever.” she said. “Those who love Mark and want to honor and remember him need to leave here today and make your mark on this world.”