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Former alumni secretary stepped in to fill his dad's shoes

On 21 February 2000 the University of Alberta Alumni Association and the University lost a longtime friend and supporter when Alexander Gilmour Markle, '48 BA, '62 BEd, '65 MEd, passed away in New Westminster, B.C. as he was about to embark on a trip to Hawaii. He was 81 years old.

In 1951 Markle volunteered to "keep the Alumni Office open" while his father, Alumni Association secretary John Markle, recovered from a heart attack. The elder Markle never made it back to the office, and his son ended up shaping and guiding the University's alumni relations for the next 30 years.

When he stepped in to fill his dad's shoes, Markle brought with him a BA from the U of A and a bachelor's degree in journalism (1949) from Carleton University. And, like many of the university graduates of his day, he also brought experience beyond his years gained on the battlefields of the Second World War. Following his retirement from the University in 1981, the former U of A alumni director wrote two books based on his wartime experience. The most recent, Dear Roses, was based on letters he wrote to his wife while he was a prisoner of war.

A fighter pilot, Markle was twice shot down in the North African campaign. In August 1942 he was shot down while dive-bombing enemy troops at El Alamein. He crashed behind enemy lines, but luck was with him that day—he was found and picked up by two British armoured cars. After two weeks in hospital he was back flying in time for the "big show" when Montgomery smashed through at Alamein.

In November 1942 he was again shot down. This time he was not as fortunate. Captured by Italian soldiers, he spent 10 months in Italian prison camps before taking part in the largest mass prisoner-of-war escape in history. He spent seven months hiding from German troops before eventually making it across the Italian Alps to the safety of the Allied lines.

After his retirement from the U of A, Markle moved to Vancouver island, where he was an active member of the Alumni Association's Victoria branch. Following the death of his wife, Rose, in 1995, he relocated to Canmore, Alberta to be nearer his children and grand-children. He is survived by a daughter and son in Edmonton, a son in Calgary, and four grandchildren.

Published Summer 2000.

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