Marcos Antonio Melendez, Jr., 72, passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of December 12, 2020, after a short illness. Marcos was born in Puerto Rico, the eldest of all the Melendez children. The son of a career US Army Soldier, Marcos spent his childhood at a variety of duty stations, including Hawaii and Germany. Athletically gifted from a young age, Marcos graduated from Antilles High School in Puerto Rico as a multi-sport standout, including football, basketball, track and field, and baseball. He went on to attend the University of Iowa and play football for the Hawkeyes as a running back, linebacker, defensive end, and place kicker for head coach Ray Nagel in the late 1960s and early 1970s. His passion for football and fitness continued after his days as a Hawkeye. He played for the Cedar Rapids Rapid Raiders semi-professional football team and a few pre-season games for the Baltimore Colts before he opened the Downtown Nautilus fitness center in downtown Cedar Rapids in the early 1980s. Marcos spread the physical and mental benefits of exercise and sports throughout his life, working as a personal trainer as well as a coach and mentor for a multitude of youth sports and training camps. Known for his relentless good-natured approach and infectious positivity, Marcos excelled at motivating clients, particularly those with little to no athletic background or those struggling with chronic injury. Football brought Marcos to Iowa, but the landscape and people kept him here. He instinctively identified with the “crazies” of the first RAGBRAI and jumped in feet first, becoming an avid cyclist. Marcos would complete almost thirty of the ride’s editions throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, often times riding out west to the start and turning around to ride back. He always rode “self-supported,” carrying everything he needed with him on the bike, including but not limited to, a fishing pole, hammock, and a driver, 7-iron, and putter should the mood strike him to play a quick nine along the way. Marcos became an avid hunter and outdoorsman and could be found year after year in the hills near Waukon in Northeast Iowa for deer and turkey hunting and the fields near Fairfield for pheasant season. No matter the season or the activity, Marcos had a way of connecting with the land, the people, and living in the moment. He was known for his agility, grit and vision, both on and off the football field. Fleet of foot and wit, “Big Marcos’s” truest talent was making people laugh. Stranger to none and friend to all, his presence was always marked by an overwhelming charisma and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Despite the physical stature of a former football player, he was also disarmingly gentle. On the rare occasion when he entered a room of unfamiliar faces, he always left amongst laughing friends. He is survived by his father, Marcos Antonio Sr.; brothers, Hector, Hiram, Javier, Felix; sister, Julia; son, Marcos Antonio III; daughter, Madeleine;, granddaughters, Leila and Gabrielle Melendez; numerous nieces, nephews, in-laws and extended family. An open house service celebrating his life will be held on Saturday December 4, 2021, at Gay and Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service in Iowa City from 4 to 6 PM. In lieu of flowers memorial donations can be made in his memory to the UIHC Children’s Hospital. To share a thought, memory or condolence with his family please visit the funeral home website @ www.gayandciha.com. For those unable to attend the services, you can watch the services at the time or later through the livestreaming feature on the funeral home website @ www.gayandciha.com at Marcos’s page under obituary. Marcos Jr. was loved by a multitude of people, and his big laugh and even bigger heart will be sorely missed.