Last weekend, the western communities lost one of its pillars when Bob Markey Sr. passed away at age 80. A veteran, newspaperman and Wellington pioneer, Markey was a well-respected man who helped shape the area as we know it today.
As the founder of the Town-Crier newspaper, Markey holds a special place in our hearts. However, his impact traveled far beyond the pages of this publication. He also dedicated much of his life to helping build the western communities while also keeping its residents informed. In return, the community respected him and his opinions, which were eloquently penned each week in his popular column, “Stray Thoughts.”
Four decades ago, when Markey moved to the area, the western communities were a shell of what they are today. Most of it was open land with little to attract the family atmosphere that has brought so many of us out west. But Markey was able to see the thriving community we could be, even when it was little more than a swamp. He was a proponent for responsible growth, pushing for schools and hospitals that would bring families to the area and establish a foundation on which we could build, but also rallying the cry to oppose projects he felt would destroy the fabric of the young community.
He saw value in the things that brought our communities together. Markey and several other early leaders founded the Palms West (now Central Palm Beach County) Chamber of Commerce, an organization that has been growing in size and influence ever since. He also rallied the community to help those in need after Hurricane Andrew devastated Miami-Dade County, and helped feed the hungry closer to home at Thanksgiving time.
Markey was also instrumental in establishing Wellington as the village it is today. He helped rally residents to push for a voice in government, leading first to resident input into the membership of the Acme Improvement District, and later to Wellington’s incorporation and the government it has today. He is one of only seven leaders to have been named to Wellington’s Founders Plaque, dedicated to those who helped shape the village.
His influence can be seen in the steeples of both St. Rita Catholic Church and St. Therese de Lisieux Catholic Church. Markey’s legacy is palpable. Whether you’re driving down the roads he fought to have widened, attending a local school he insisted must be built or marveling at the natural, unmarred beauty of our community, it’s likely you have Markey, in part, to thank. His love of this community was evident, and his labors of love are still around for new generations to enjoy.
Markey, who died Saturday, Sept. 14 after a long battle with dementia, was predeceased by his wife of 49 years, Patricia. He is survived by a daughter, two sons and five grandchildren. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Town-Crier family are with them during this difficult time. Funeral arrangements are being made through Palms West Funeral Home in Royal Palm Beach. A visitation is set from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 22 with a memorial at 5:30 p.m. A funeral Mass will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 23 at St. Therese de Lisieux Catholic Church with a veteran’s burial immediately afterward at the South Florida Veterans Administration Cemetery. The Markey family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Hospice of Palm Beach County.