Thomas L. Markey

Markey—Thomas L. Markey, 81, on August 17, 2022, in Tucson, Ariz. Thomas was born on May 29, 1940, to Robert Cline Markey and Mary Elizabeth Meredith Markey in Dayton, Ohio. Thomas had a younger sister, Priscilla, who remembers being teased by older brother Tom!

Thomas and Patricia married in 1974 and had one son, Tynan Markey. Thomas had a daughter, Jessica, from a previous marriage.

Thomas had a boundless love of learning and an inquisitive mind. His education was extensive: Commonwealth Fellow at University College London; bachelor’s in English and classics from Hamilton College in 1962; Yale University graduate studies in linguistics; master’s degree in Scandinavian and German from the University of Chicago; Linguistic Society of America, Summer Linguistic Institute at UCLA; Research Fellow at Peterhouse College, Cambridge University; and a doctorate in Scandinavian linguistics from Uppsala University in Sweden.

Thomas began his professional career as a teaching assistant at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. He held many teaching positions through the years, completing his teaching career as professor in the departments of German and linguistics at the University of Michigan. His academic resume is 18 pages long, consisting primarily of a list of his publications. He was researching and writing “The Extinction Vortex” at the time of his death.

Thomas traveled widely with curiosity and care for people and their language and culture. He was fluent in many languages, which came easily to him. This was partly because he understood that communication isn’t perfect, and it was more important to try to understand people than worry about making mistakes. For example, he learned Icelandic while working on a herring fishing boat during a summer while he was a student, making friends along the way.

Thomas and Patricia retired to Tucson, Ariz., from Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1994. As Thomas aged and energetically dealt with various cancers, he faced his mortality in part by returning to his Quaker roots. Thomas’s mother’s family were Quaker, and his parents attended Earlham College in Indiana. Thomas asked for a clearness committee; he wanted to consider deep, hard questions about his faith.

Thomas is survived by his wife, Patricia Markey; two children, Jessica Feinleib (Michael Slattery) and Tynan Markey; two grandchildren; and a sister, Priscilla Basehart (Harry).

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