The Seattle marine industry lost one of its pre-eminent mechanical engineers with the passing of Mike Markey on March 2. Mike was the third generation president of Seattle-based Markey Machinery Co., the 106-year-old heavy marine deck equipment manufacturer, where he followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, Charles Markey, and his father, William “Bill” Markey, before retiring in 2002.
Mike was born in Seattle and graduated from West Seattle High School. Afterward, he received his engineering degree from Stanford University and went on to work for the steam division of General Electric as a sales engineer in Boston. In 1958, Mike joined the family business as a drafter and later chief engineer.
Though Mike had a hand in many of the products of Markey Machinery, he especially cultivated the oceanographic research winch business with UNOLS and NSF where many of the winch standards used today were developed. Paying close attention to the needs of the ship’s crew and the scientists, Mike evolved the design of oceanographic winches from modified utility winches to specialized, precision winches dedicated to the rigors of deep ocean casts. The ubiquitous Markey DESH and DUSH series of electric and hydraulic hydrographic winches, developed in the early 1960s, are a true testament to his approach to this industry’s needs. Most of these units are still in use today.
Throughout his career, Mike also mentored other young designers and engineers that came to work at Markey. These include Blaine Dempke, current Markey president and co-owner, and Barry Griffin, who started his engineering career with Markey and, now, represents Markey products with his company Griffin and Associates.
Mike appreciated anything mechanical, especially automobiles, and especially Jaguar automobiles, owning several over the years.