Markee, Jan (1936-2020)

Markee, Janet (1936-2020)

Janet Markee was born Janet Lenore Ziimmerman in Cilncinnati, Ohio in August of 1936. Her mother, Mary, was a Latin teacher and her father, Theron was a minister. Theron’s calling took them to Pennsylvania, Ohio and Washington State. As an only child she looked forward to spending vacations with her outgoing cousins and considered them her siblings. She graduated from Cleveland High School in Seattle Washington in 1954.Janet studied history at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. She was also a cheerleader and her class’s Homecoming Queen. She met her first husband, James Baber at that time, married him upon graduation and they moved to Chicago. They returned to Oregon for the birth of their first child, Marc, 1960. They then moved to Berkeley where their second child, Karen, was born in 1963. Jim became an ordained minister in 1964 and the ministry took them to Ekalaka, Montana, and then to Salida and Modesto in California.

Jan began her teaching career in Modesto at Somerset Middle School. When they returned to Oregon in 1969, they settled in Salem and Jan began teaching at Judson Junior High. She earned a Master’s degree in Education at Oregon State University and in 1977 she began teaching at Sprague High School. She taught English Literature, Writing and Film as Literature and thrived with beloved colleagues in the English department. She loved teaching and took special joy in engaging students who didn’t think of themselves as scholars. She enjoyed helping them find complex literature as accessible and relatable. She organized yearly field trips to Ashland’s Shakespearean Festival and particularly reveled in the occasional arguments with administrators whom she felt often underestimated the critical thinking skills of teenagers.

By this time, Janet was a single mom and she found the love of her life in Mike Markee who (whom? – sorry Mom) she met at a class in Oregon Writing Project workshop in 1977. Conveniently, Mike taught in the English Department at McNary High School and they shared lesson plans and a passion for literature, film and one another. When they married in August of 1979, they joined their families and Jan happily added his three children, Michelle, Tony and Shannon to her life.

Together they explored common interests including William Stafford’s poetry, making documentaries, hiking, and photography. They travelled across the United States and to Europe. Every year they went to the Shakespearean Festival and a family camp at Silver Falls State Park.

They watched their family grow as their kids found partners and started families. With nine grandchildren they were kept busy during retirement attending birthday parties, plays, football games, volleyball tournaments, book signings, track events and soccer matches. They were involved in PEO and attended the Unitarian Church. Last August they celebrated their 40th anniversary at Silver Falls where they were originally married surrounded by family and friends.

Janet is survived by her beloved Mike and their five children and their partners: Marc Baber (Christina Stovall) Karen Lenore (John Dryden), Michelle Costa (Justin Costa), Tony Markee (Jamie Morocco) and Shannon Gaine (Tony Gaine). Their nine grandchildren: Ian Baber, Emmett Baber, Jordan Costa, Trevor Costa, James Dryden, Alex Costa, Emma Dryden, Bronson Gaine and Audrey Gaine.