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Clement Lawrence Markert

Biography

Markert, Clement

 

Markert, Clement Lawrence. b. April 11, 1917, Las Animas, Colorado, Attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, Single, Student and Steel worker, CP February 1, 1938, YCL 1937 and Spanish CP, No Passport issued, Certificate of Identity issued and taken up, Domicile 1927 East 5th Street, Pueblo, Colorado, Sailed February 4, 1938 as a stowaway aboard the Independence Hall, Arrived in Spain on February 28, 1938, Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln-Washington BN, Plana Mayor, rank Cabo; Retreats and Ebro Offensive, Returned to the US  on December 15, 1938 aboard the Paris, WWII Merchant Marine, Pacific and Indian Oceans, Chief Radio Officer aboard the SS C. K. McClatcher, Rank Warrant Officer, d. October 1, 1999.

Sources: Sail, SACB, Pay, RA, (obituary) The Volunteer, Volume 21, No. 4, Fall 1999, p. 20; (obituary) "Clement Markert, 82, a Biologist Suspended in the McCarthy Era," New York Times, October 10, 1999.

Photograph: Clement Markert in Spain, RA Fond 545, Opis 6, Delo 944

 

 

Clement Markert, veteran of the Lincoln Brigade and longtime member of the ALBA Board of Governors, made his mark as a world-class geneticist and biologist but it was his service in Spain that uniquely shaped his distinguished academic career. He died at a hospice near his home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on October 1, 1999.

As a brilliant undergraduate at the University of Colorado, the 20- year old Markert and his roommate
Allan Merrick left the Boulder campus in 1937 to fight against Franco in Spain. They rode freight trains to New
York, stowed away on a merchant ship, made contact with the International Brigades in Paris, and then proceeded over the Pyrenees to enlist with the Lincolns.

Arriving in Spain just before the Retreats in 1938, Markert served as a scout during the dangerous time of encirclement. He attributed his survival to the mountaineering skills he had learned as a youth in the Colorado Rockies. His friend Merrick was not so lucky.

After returning home, Markert faced a public inquiry before the Colorado Board of Trustees before being allowed to complete his college studies. He boldly defended his decision to go to Spain. In an oral history he made in 1980 for ALBA, Markert recalled saying: “You have made a very fine university here, and...I’m actually your best product. I rank number one among the students....To expel me from the university would be the most devastating self-criticism that you could possibly engage in.” They voted unanimously to reinstate him. He went on to graduate studies in zoology at UCLA.

When World War II began, he tried to enlist in the Army Air Corps, only to be turned down because of his service in Spain. He enlisted in the merchant marines. After the war, he earned his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and became an assistant professor at the University of Michigan. In 1954, Markert and two colleagues refused to testify before a subcommittee of the House Un-American Activities Committee. The university president suspended all three, though Markert alone was reinstated.

In 1991, an annual lecture series devoted to free speech was named in their honor. “They’ll have to think about and squirm about it at least once a year,” Markert remarked. Markert eventually moved on to Yale University, where he continued his work on enzymes and served as Chair of the Department of Biology.  He was also elected to the American Academy of Sciences, perhaps the most prestigious scientific society in this country, and served on its governing council.

During one meeting, his colleagues discussed the possible existence of a blacklist at the National Institute of Health. “Gentlemen,” said Markert, “I know very well that there is a blacklist at NIH, because I am on it.” He remembered that he could have heard a pin drop. The discussion led to the abolition of that blacklist. Facing mandatory retirement at Yale, Markert moved to North Carolina State University, where his research dealt with animal husbandry. More recently, he and his wife, Margaret, returned to Colorado.

He is known today as the “father” of isoenzymes, an entire field of biochemical research. Yet his political commitments remained intact. “He was just a good citizen antifascist,” said his wife.

 

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Clement Markert in Spain, RA Fond 545, Opis 6, Delo 944

Full Database Record

Last Name Markert
First/Middle Name Clement Lawrence
Ethnicity
Ethnicity Note
Immigration Status
Religion
POW
AKA Last Name 1
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AKA Last Name 2
AKA First / Middle 2
DOB
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Education HS
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Graduate or Doctoral Work
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Prior Military Service
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Passport Series
Passport Reported Lost in Spain
Passport Age
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PP or Known Address Street
PP or Known Address City
PP or Known Address State
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Vocation 1
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Party Affiliation
Date Affiliation
ALT Affiliation
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Arrival (in Spain) Date
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WWII Service
DOD
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Additional Notes Stowaway to Spain. Discoverer of isoenzymese-nzymes whose variable forms guide the development of organs.