It is with great sadness that I share the news that we have lost another of our William Davis DNA Project members, this one close to my heart. My oldest brother, Dr. Gilbert Scott Markle, a legend in his own time, has passed away. He died March 20, after a brief illness, at the age of 74.
Gil had that undefinable quality of charisma that attracted everyone, each person feeling that he or she was the special one in the spot light of Gil’s attention. As a result, Gil had scores of people, from all walks of life, who revered him. (See the many Legacy guest book posts and Gil Markle Facebook posts.)
Gilbert Scott Markle was the oldest of three children, all born in New Jersey in the 1940’s, but he was was actually a Davis by blood. The name change came about innocuously, an undocumented adoption. Gilbert Scott Markle’s father, also Gilbert, was born a “Davis” on his Manhattan, New York birth certificate. But Gilbert Sr.’s father, Charles Davis, died shortly after the birth, and, as was the custom at that time, Gilbert Sr. was unofficially adopted by his mother’s second husband, Willis Markle. From then on, Gilbert Sr. carried the surname Markle, passing it down to his children.
The name Davis wasn’t the only thing lost when Charles died. Gone too was any documentation proving who Charles was or where he was from. So in early 2007, Gilbert Scott Markle became the first tester for the William Davis DNA Project. Gil was genetically proven a DAVIS, and a descendant of Rev. William Davis, by his Y-DNA tests that matched the many Davis testers with documented Davis ancestries. All the testers showed the same haplogroup, first I2a, which later became I2a1b, and now is known as I-L160. After 7 years of Y matches, and meeting many interesting Davis cousins, the search for Gil’s grandfather, Charles Davis, turned to autosomal testing.
Through autosomal testing and using adoption search methodology of the DNAadoption.com group to search for this Davis ancestor, several clusters of autosomal matches have been discovered which are all related to the Davis family tree.
One cluster of over 20 separate match lines descends from a single ancestral Davis couple, born in 1740 in NJ. Another large cluster of matches centers around the ancestral surname MAXSON, which is a common Davis family surname. A third cluster of matches centers around Middletown, Monmouth County, New Jersey, about 5 miles from Shrewsbury, NJ, which, if you know the William Davis history, is the area where the Davis clan moved to in 1744 from Rhode Island. Another cluster of matches also centers around Fayette County, PA, which is the area where the Davis clan settled for a year or so, on their way from NJ to Salem, West Virginia in 1789. And, as expected, another cluster of matches, surprisingly a small one, stems from West Virginia where we know a good portion of the Davis family finally settled.
Any of these clusters of matches may eventually lead back to the one ancestral Davis couple whose child was Charles Davis, born in 1870. We have great hope that future, and hopefully closer, autosomal matches will lead to these unknown Davis ancestors, and ultimately to Charles, himself.
Carrying the name Markle instead of Davis seemed to have made no difference to Gil’s life trajectory. Gil’s life was so full of accomplishments, it was enough for several lives. He was Valedictorian of his high school class, despite graduating a year before his own age group. He was a Fulbright scholar and attended the Sorbonne. He was a PhD in Philosophy from Yale, a tenured professor of philosophy at Clark U., the founder and head of two educational travel companies, ALSG (American Leadership Study Groups) and Passports, and founder of Long view Farm, a recording studio in North Brookfield, MA. You can read about his life’s accomplishments and escapades in the two obituaries below and in the writings that he left behind on his websites.
My oldest brother, Gilbert Scott, entrepreneur, visionary, icon, philosopher, engineer and writer, may have passed on, leaving loved ones behind to miss him, but his DNA still resides at the testing company and its pattern is still generating matches, from both Y and now autosomal tests. Considering all that he accomplished in his life, it is fitting that his DNA would continue to accomplish results after he is gone. RIP, dear brother, knowing that the ancestral secrets lying patiently within your chromosomes will eventually be unveiled.
~Jan Davis Markle
See Diary Of a Studiowner (www.studiowner.com) for Gil’s autobiographical and academic writings.
Obituary, Published in Worcester Telegram & Gazette from Mar. 21 to Mar. 22, 2015, http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/telegram/obituary.aspx?n=gilbert-markle&pid=174452624#sthash.tmSEksbs.dpuf
SPENCER – Gil Markle passed away on March 20th at his home in Spencer after a brief illness. He was 74.Gil enjoyed a distinguished and unusually multi-faceted career in academia, in educational travel and in the recording industry. He was a Fulbright scholar, a tenured professor of philosophy at Clark University, founder of the American Leadership Study Groups (ASLG) and creator of Long View Farm recording studio in North Brookfield, Mass.Gilbert Scott Markle was born in Jersey City, N.J. [ed’s note: should say: Englewood, NJ], on July 7, 1940, son of the late Gilbert J. Markle and Constance Gates Markle. Gil is survived by his loving companion of more than 30 years, Kathy Mueller; his daughter, Abigail Stayart, and her husband, Andrew, of Chicago, IL; his son, David Markle, and his wife, Karolina Markle, of Shrewsbury, Mass.; two grandsons, Benjamin and Roark Markle, also of Shrewsbury; and two grandchildren soon to be born to Abigail, whom he was looking forward to meeting. He is also survived by his ex-partner, Nancy Wilcox, mother of his two children; by his brother, William Markle, and his wife, Viki, of High Falls, NY; and by his sister, Janet Markle, and her partner Bryce, of Petaluma, Calif.After graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1961 with a degree in physics, Gil went to France as a Fulbright Scholar to receive the first of two doctoral degrees, a Doctorat d’ Universite from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. He later received his second PhD in the philosophy of science from Yale University in 1968.To earn extra money in Paris, Gil took American students on tours through France. This experience convinced him that leading American high school students on educational tours of Europe might be a good business model.Soon after his return to the US in 1965, Gil founded ALSG, which grew to become one of the leaders in the American educational travel industry. From the late ’60s through the late ’80s, ALSG’s headquarters were at Worcester Airport, where over 50 people worked day and night to ensure the company’s success. In the early ’90s, Gil founded Passports, ALSG’s successor company in the same industry. Passports continues to be a highly successful and innovative sponsor of educational trips overseas.
As a professor of philosophy at Clark University from 1966 through the mid-70s, Gil became famous for the size of his classes. This was a testament to his popularity and teaching skills, and, as was written at the time, to his “exciting and compelling approach to teaching academic subjects utilizing a mixed media compilation of tape recorders, slide projectors, live actors and a miniature computer.” Gil was clearly ahead of his time. Several of his students, who later became well-established in the field of film and video production, remarked recently that they owe their careers to Gil Markle.
Perhaps the accomplishment of which Gil was the most proud, and for which he is best known, was his creation of the world-renowned Long View Farm recording studio. Gil purchased the 150-acre horse farm in North Brookfield as a residence in 1973. The recording studio began as a hobby, Gil remarked, “but then the hobby got out of hand.” Surveying his newly-created, state-of-the-art recording facility, located on one the most beautiful pieces of real estate in central Massachusetts, Gil decided to make it available professionally. The rest is history.
Starting in 1974, many of the top recording artists in the world came to call Long View their home, including The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Cat Stevens, Arlo Guthrie, Aerosmith, Stuff, The J. Geils Band, Don McClean, Pat Metheny, Graham Nash and John Belushi. More at studiowner.com.
Gil loved the beaches of Tobago and Cape Cod; his many dogs and cats; black & white movies, and most especially, reading. At 74, Gil continued to be involved in his student travel business, and enjoyed re-mastering recordings for his many musician friends. Upon learning of Gil’s passing, many of his friends have remarked that they had rarely known a more kind and generous man.
A few years ago, reflecting on why a hugely popular teacher would leave a tenured position at Clark University, Gil confessed to having become bored with teaching. “My career took a decided left turn after I bought Long View Farm,” he reflected. “I rejected the warm, comfortable career offered by a tenured faculty position and hit the sidewalks again. Besides,” he added, “ALSG was exploding into a multi-million-dollar company, and I was tearing apart a 100-year-old farmhouse called Long View. I felt I didn’t stand to better my record by continuing, so I stepped off at the top of the curve.”
Just as he did on March, 20, 2015.
There are no calling hours. Burial will be private, at the convenience of the family. A celebration of Gil’s life will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 16, at the Castle Restaurant in Leicester, Mass.
Gil Markle, who grew up in Tenafly and made mark in rock and roll, dies at 74
But Mr. Markle, who died March 20 at age 74, would make a mark in the recording industry. While teaching philosophy at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., in the early ’70s, he bought a 150-acre horse farm in nearby North Brookfield and turned its red-painted, century-old barn into a recording studio.
“It started as a hobby,” said his brother, William, adding that Gil had become intrigued after recording a James Taylor concert on the Clark campus. “But he soon realized he could rent out the studio.”
That he did. Mr. Markle — already financially successful from an educational travel company, American Leadership Study Groups, that he founded — made his secluded Long View Farm available to some of the biggest names in rock: Cat Stevens, Arlo Guthrie, the J. Geils Band, Aerosmith, Don McLean and, most famously, the Rolling Stones.
The Stones considered Long View Farm a home away from home after they stayed there for six weeks in 1981 to rehearse for a 40-city American tour promoting their No. 1 album “Tattoo You.”
“Before the Stones would come to North Brookfield, we had to build them a full concert stage, one that would allow Mick Jagger to jump and leap about,” Mr. Markle told At Rensselaer, his alma mater’s magazine. “We had only three weeks to build it, including installing all the wiring for the sound equipment and lights. It wasn’t easy, but we did it.”
The Boston Globe reported Mr. Markle hired guards to keep a lid on the groupies who gathered around the farm’s picket fence at all hours. The Stones were appreciative of his efforts and touched by the hospitality. As a thank you, they previewed their tour with a secret show at a club in Worcester; they billed themselves as the Cockroaches and invited Mr. Markle and his staff.
Gilbert S. Markle’s family history may have foreshadowed his niche in the recording industry. His father, Gilbert J. Markle, was an NBC Radio engineer; his mother, Connie Gates, was a radio singer who performed with Benny Goodman’s band.
Yet Mr. Markle initially chose a scholarly path. He obtained a pair of doctoral degrees — in history and the philosophy of physics from the Sorbonne, and in philosophy from Yale — and was a professor at Clark for six years.
Then he bought a horse farm and befriended the Stones. He owned Long View Farm until the early ’90s.
Mr. Markle died of cancer at home in Spencer, Mass., said his brother, of High Falls, N.Y. He also is survived by his longtime partner, Kathy Mueller; two children, Abigail Stayart of Chicago and David Markle of Shrewsbury, Mass.; a sister, Janet Markle of Petaluma, Calif., and two grandchildren. A celebration of life is planned for May 16 at Castle Restaurant in Leicester, Mass.
More on LongView Farm and Gil’s transition from academia to recording industry in this interview by Wanda F. Fischer, “Gil Markle ’61: A Live-Wire Ph.D.”, The Rensselaer Alumni Bulletin, April 1982, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.