Robert Joseph “Bob” Markell, television executive and longtime Shelter Island resident, passed away on the morning of Saturday, Jan. 25. He was 95 years old, and had been in failing health for some time.
Bob was born in Boston, Mass. He attended Northeastern University in Boston, graduating with an engineering degree.
After graduation, he moved to New York, where he embarked on a career in the performing arts, first as a set designer for the stage and soon as one of the earliest set designers and art directors during the early years of television.
He worked on the legendary series “You Are There,” and received one of the first Emmys awarded for art direction. He would go on to work with Sidney Lumet on the classic film, “12 Angry Men” as art director, and in 1961, begin work as a producer on the courtroom drama, “The Defenders.” For his work on that program he was awarded his second and third Emmys, as well as two Golden Globes.
The same year, he and his wife Joan brought their children to summer on Shelter Island for the first time. He fell in love with the beaches and landscapes of the Island, painting them often on the weekends when he could come out and join his family.
He went on to produce one more series, “NYPD,” between 1967 and 1969.
In 1970, he and Joan bought the house at 19 North Midway Road, their home for the rest of his life.
Several years later, Bob became an executive at CBS, which meant spending more time in Los Angeles.
Although the couple had a second home on the west coast for a period of time, Bob always returned in the summer to Shelter Island.
In 1991 he retired from the television business and moved to the Island for good. Here, he was able to devote himself full time to his passion — art. He quickly became a well-respected and energetic member of the thriving arts community on the East End, showing his works in galleries on the North and South forks, as well as locally.
He spent most of the next 30 years painting landscapes and floral still lives, later adding etchings and lithographs and watercolors of the female nude.
Bob is fondly remembered by many readers of the Reporter from a life size painting his good friend Peter Waldner did of him, and placed in many different locations on the Island, in a weekly series called “Where’s Bob?”
Bob is survived by his wife of 70 years, Joan Markell, longtime proprietor of Fallen Angel Antiques; his daughter Dr. Mariana Markell, Professor of Medicine and Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University; and his son, children’s book author Denis Markell; as well as four grandchildren.
There will be a memorial for Bob in the spring with details to be announced later.