LAND OF LEGEND
2015 Barbershopper of the Year
Gary A. Markette
Born and raised in the soon-to-be dead (and good riddance) steel town of McKeesport, PA, Gary has been a Steeler and Pirate fan since he was 5. His first experience with barbershop harmony came at the tender age of 20 when he was cast as the Tenor for the Barbershop Quartet in a local Community Theater production of The Music Man. Years passed before he finally joined the Society. That happened after he moved to Ohio where he found the Cambridge Chapter SPEBSQSA (yes, it was still SPEBSQSA then) and began to learn how to sing 4-part, a capella harmony.
His first marriage to a girl from Massillon, Ohio sent him to Tiger Town where he continued barbershopping with the Canton Chapter Hall of Fame Chorus. There he wrote and helped to direct several of the chapter’s shows and shared Johnny Appleseed District Bulletin Editor of the Year honors for his work on The Squawker. He also wrote and helped direct a show for the City of Flags chorus – the local Sweet Adelines group.
Employment and marital difficulties interfered with barbershopping and other life aspects. A long layoff from music ensued. An amicable divorce and a second marriage to the love of his life brought new purpose, but employment issues continued and consultant work kept him and his new family moving. A lengthy stay in Chicago-land eased the employment problems somewhat, but his transplanted Buckeye heart missed home. When employment issues again forced consultancy down his throat, he quickly sickened of the time spent in travel and away from his wife. Taking a large salary cut, he accepted a full-time post in Westerville, OH and moved his family to Newark, Ohio. His return to the Buckeye State elated him as did the opportunity to be home every evening. This elation lasted until his wife passed away 6 months later.
Sarah’s death put him in a very dark place for a very long time. Searching for some sort of light, he attended a barbershop show for the first time in easily 10 years. Encouraged by the obvious joy of the group on stage, he visited the Land of Legend, Newark Chapter at its next guest night. He’s been there ever since.
A technical writer for more than 40 years, Gary works for Emerson Network Power. His other hobby is chess and he has served on the board of the Ohio Chess Association and edited the Ohio Chess Bulletin. His theater background includes acting, singing, producing, and directing for such shows as Fiddler on the Roof, The Fantasticks, Guys and Dolls, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, The Miracle Worker, and Mame. Of retirement age but not financially ready, Gary also sings with the Columbus Singing Buckeyes Chapter, but the Land of Legend Chorus is his home. He often says: “If I miss a rehearsal or performance without telling you in advance, I’m probably dead.”
Gary A. Markette