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The Dartmouth
February 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Brian Markee remembered as a compassionate Baker-Berry Library worker with a “can-do attitude”

Markee’s colleagues expressed gratitude for his mentoring, sharp humor and positive attitude.

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Brian Markee’s colleagues fondly remember him as a compassionate library staff member who maintained a positive outlook during his time at the College. Markee, who died on March 29 at age 60 from cancer, left an indelible impact on his workplace with his charm and dedication, according to his coworkers

Markee is survived by his partner, Mary Guerin; his parents, Nancy and Dale; and his sister, Deidre. 

According to associate librarian Jennifer Taxman, Markee joined Baker-Berry Library in 1984 and worked as a shelver and bindery assistant before assuming the role of conservation specialist in 1998. In an email Taxman sent to library staff, she noted that Markee was “exceptional” at his job and was a “skilled trainer” who worked with student assistants, summer preservation interns and library staff. 

“[Markee] was the first person I met at any job who talked to me and didn’t talk down at me,” information access assistant Wes Benash said. Benash added that he first met Markee when interviewing for a job position at the library in 2012, and Markee “made him feel welcome” through his “[genuineness].” The two of them quickly became close friends.

Benash emphasized how much Markee “legitimately cared,” noting that when Benash’s mother experienced a stroke, Markee ensured that Benash could take time away from work to care for her. 

Similarly, digital production technician Ryland Ianelli, who worked with Markee in the preservation services department, said that Markee had a “very inviting presence” and was “never condescending in any way.” Ianelli also said that Markee was always willing to help him, including in overcoming his initial uncertainty over whether to continue working at the library.

“He was very, very down-to-earth,” Ianelli said. “I completely leaned on him and his expertise to get me through, and the fact that I’m still here … [Markee] has so much to do with that.”

Ianelli added that he was struck by Markee’s “can-do attitude,” noting that he constantly volunteered for special projects and put in more effort than others expected of him.

“Even when he was out sick, he never considered not pitching in,” Ianelli said. “He never threw in the towel because something was proving too difficult … he really struck me as someone who put a lot of pride and love into his work.”

Benash also emphasized Markee’s “sharp sense of humor,” recounting their shared love for the “absurdist” jokes in the television series South Park. Benash recalled an episode of the show where Bono — the lead singer for the band U2 — appears and shouts “Yeah Yeah Yeah,” sparking a long-running joke where Markee and Benash would quote Bono at each other or leave pictures of Bono for each other to find.

Outside of work, Markee loved to hike and regularly wrote blog posts on New Hampshire hiking trails and portions of the Appalachian Trail, according to Taxman. Benash noted that Markee hiked the three highest peaks in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine and hiked to the top of Mount Washington multiple times.

Markee was also an avid golfer who enjoyed playing with his friends on the golf course and had won two club member championships at the Blackmount Country Club, according to his obituary published by Ricker Funeral Home. Benash said that Markee was “better than anyone else”' at the library at golfing and was always deliberately paired with a bad player during library staff tournaments in order to balance out the teams.

Furthermore, Markee was also a fan of music and regularly shared this passion with others. Ianelli said that he first befriended Markee through watching the music video of Patrick Hernandez’s “Born to be Alive,” which both of them found hilarious because of the song’s “stupid” title.

Benash said that even when Markee was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017 or 2018, he took it in stride, recounting how Markee walked up to him and said that “it’s a pain in the ass, both literally and figuratively.”

“[Markee] knew the seriousness of it, but he was not the type to wallow in self-pity … we thought about it, of course, but he tried to focus on other things and think positively,” he said.

Though Markee was in remission, his cancer relapsed in the summer of 2020 and was much worse than before, Benash said. According to his obituary, after Markee’s final hike up Imp Mountain last November, “his pain became chronic, and [Markee] referred to [the mountain] ruefully as ‘the Imp that made me a gimp.’”

Benash added that Markee still tried his best to maintain a positive attitude despite his diagnosis, and it only became apparent to everyone how serious his condition was when he stopped going to work after Christmas of last year. 

Both Benash and Ianelli said that Markee’s legacy and impact on others will continue to live on even after his death, with Benash adding that Markee made an “incalculable impact” on his life.

“I will forever be in his debt, and I will be forever grateful,” Benash said.