Mark Mayo Erro, Vietnam veteran, Mt. Shasta High School teacher and lifelong McCloud resident, died April 28 in Carmichael with his family at his bedside.
He was 72.
Born Feb. 12, 1948 in Susanville, Mark grew up with his father, Joseph Erro, an electrician and radio technician for the McCloud River Railroad; his mother, Cassie Erro, a librarian at McCloud Elementary School; and his younger brother, Clay.
Mark graduated from McCloud High School in 1966 and attended College of the Siskiyou’s, graduating with an associate’s degree. He transferred to Chico State University for his junior year.
In 1970, with the Vietnam War in full swing, he postponed his education so he could serve his country. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and taught survival, escape, and evasion at Fort Benning Georgia; he became a member of a Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol, an elite Special Forces unit that went on dangerous missions deep into enemy territory. The stories Mark told from his time in Vietnam hinted at his remarkable bravery, perseverance and skill. He described hiding in the jungle, just feet from Vietcong soldiers, location and numbers. He famously captured and killed a giant python for survival.
After serving in Vietnam, he returned to Chico to complete his bachelor’s degree and get his teaching credential.
Mark first met his wife, Toni, when he was 18 years old and she was a junior attending Weed High School. They briefly dated while Mark attended COS. Upon his return from Vietnam, Mark and Toni discovered they still had a deep love for each other. They married on Sept. 16, 1972. They went on to raise four children together. Mark and Toni were married for 47 years.
Mark profoundly influenced the lives of thousands of students through his teaching and coaching career, which began in Happy Camp in 1975. Two years later, he transferred to Mt. Shasta High School, where he would spend the remainder of his career sharing his love of Mark Twain, quoting “Jeremiah Johnson” and captivating even the most fidgety of his students with stories from his time in Vietnam.
Mark worked 36 years for the Siskiyou Union High School District. He taught English, speech and physical education. Mark also coached football and track at Happy Camp, McCloud and Mt. Shasta high schools, twice earning Coach of the Year honors.
Mark retired in 2015.
Throughout his adult life, Mark had a passion for fly fishing, and he went as much as he could to the icy, green waters of the McCloud River, hoping to catch a big rainbow trout. He taught his children to fly fish and to tie flies. When he wasn’t fishing, you would find him hard at work with his family falling trees and cutting firewood preparing for the long McCloud winters. He believed that a family that “worked together stayed together.”
Mark’s number one love was his family and instilling a hard work ethic. That was exemplified in the 15 years he spent building the family home while working paycheck-to-paycheck on a teaching salary. The family sacrificed untold hours after school, weekends and summers to finish it. He was persistent and resilient. Mark had true grit, a passion and perseverance. He passed those traits on to his kids through the home they built together. This was “The house that built us,” his children would say.
Mark had a love of books and, in particular, American authors. He could recite from memory entire passages of Twain, Hemingway, Steinbeck and Poe.
He was proud and fascinated by his Spanish Basque heritage, something he’d describe in great detail to his children and to his students, whether they wanted to hear it or not.
His students at Mt. Shasta High School will always remember his famous sayings, “This end of the hall is the best end of the hall,” and “Mr. Erro is always fair.” We will always remember him standing at the end of the hallway watching over the students between periods as his Tom Jones music played loudly from the speakers in his room.
Mark will always be remembered as a teacher, a coach, a tremendous public speaker, a storyteller, a hard worker, and a true family man dedicating his life to his family’s happiness.
Mark is survived by his wife, Toni (Andreazza) Erro; his mother, Cassie Erro; his brother, Clay Erro; his son, Michael Borchard; his daughters, Lia Antonucci, Hillary Butrico and Gianna Erro; and his seven grandchildren.
In his final days, his family read him Huckleberry Finn. They played him Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, and Paul Anka songs. They told him they loved him. They thanked him for all he did for them, for his students and for his country.
Services will take place at 2 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Igo Veterans Memorial Cemetery. In lieu of flowers please send donations to the Preston Sharp/Vet Flags and Flowers P. O. Box 493792, Redding, CA or Preston Sharp.net.