Whitey Markle with a mulletWhitey Markle

Born and raised in north Jacksonville of proud "Cracker" heritage, Whitey’s childhood was spent on Cedar Bay Road; a dead-end road that ran between Broward River and the old Imeson Airport. It was a unique place for the boys to grow up….5000 acres of woodlands surrounding the airport and a tidal salt marsh river to explore.

After high school ended in 1962, poor reading skills eliminated Whitey (Named Richard…called every kind of “Dick”, the name changed after adolescence) from FSU and, being under the threat of the Vietnam chore, he went to Palatka to the “Junior College”. St. Johns River Junior College was both educationally valuable and a fun experience. “Richard” ran for a seat in the student government as “Big Dick” Markle and won hands down. No kidding.

Eventually, the military obligation and a new wife and daughter changed Whitey’s life dramatically. Fortunate to join the U.S. Army Reserve, he dodged the Vietnam “bullet”. He served six years in the 292nd Lighter Amphibious Transportation Co., Palatka, Florida, becoming a Staff Sergeant. Meanwhile, he completed a Federal Apprenticeship at Naval Air Station in Jacksonville and became a Journeyman Aircraft Machinist.

Uncomfortable making bushings and screws for the military aircraft, “Whitey” (so called for his white eyebrows in Ft. Benning basic training) went off to FSU again to become an Industrial Arts teacher.

Unfortunately, a bad decision at the end of his FSU career landed Whitey in the state penitentiary, where he would serve eighteen months plus two and a half years parole. Whitey was fortunate that the State of Florida allowed him to teach juvenile delinquents as an intern before the prison stint, and as a teacher of Building Trades for the four years that followed at Alyce D. McPherson School in Ocala.

In 1979, Whitey decided to go fishing for a living. Assisted by a nightly teaching job at the prison (Marion Correctional), mullet and catfishing proved to be a lot of fun, but financially unreliable.

By 1982, Whitey had landed a job at the University of Florida teaching Metals and Welding, and Soil Laboratory for the Department of Architecture. Midway through his UF career he was transferred to the Architecture Wood Shop. After 26 years and 88,000 young students’ fingers (no accidents), Whitey escaped from the university and began phase 2 of his life…..Citra.

Whitey Markle and the SwamprootersSince August of 2007 (retirement), Whitey has spent most of his time reorganizing his homestead in Citra, raising a large garden, chickens, and pigs.

His 20 acre tree farm in Washington County gets a once a month visit, mostly now for reclusion. He has planted 16 acres in pines and has developed a 2 acre orchard; Mostly Muscadine grapes, blueberries, and nut trees. He has also planted Chinquapin trees and has recently acquired some Tung Oil trees for that orchard. With the help of a family of beavers, there is a three acre pond. He affectionately calls it “The Florida Mountains”. Whitey, since the purchase in 1984, has built a three room shack that is powered totally by solar power. A small springlet on the side of the property provides clean water. In 2008, Whitey bought a small lot and mobile home in Yankeetown very close to the Gulf of Mexico (salt water fishing). He calls the place “Gnatural Paradise”.

Whitey has attained a master’s degree from the University of Florida in Urban and Regional Planning, and after retirement in 2007, he became the Chair of the Suwannee/St. Johns Sierra Club and a charter board member of the Silver Springs Alliance. His greatest accomplishment environmentally was the successful campaign as co-chair of Quiet Lakes of Alachua County that won a voter referendum in 2010 that limited airboat operation on all Alachua County waters to 7AM-7PM (12% victory margin). Whitey continues to lead environmental efforts in North Central Florida.


Swamprooters in Black and WhiteThe Swamprooters (1976-present)

Lloyd Baldwin Tom Blankenship Buzz Sibley
Ted Burke Walter Godwin Richard Bull
Brent Baldwin John Steinman Michael Godwin
Charlie Little Marty Schuman Mike Boulware
Beth Daly Mike Powell Dave Gancarz
Kevin Holloway Kristen Holloway Tammy Ann Murray
Dennis Barker Ryan Griffin David McBrady
Norman Green Barbara Smith Annie McPherson

"The Melrose Swamprooters" were formed in 1976, named by Lloyd Baldwin. The band included Lloyd, his brother, Brent, and Whitey Markle. They played mostly old-time and old country. At that point Whitey had written Rabbit Fever Blues, and The Pines of Lowell.

By 1979, the Baldwin brothers had formed their own old time band so Whitey assembled "The New Swamprooters" with Buzz Sibley and Walter Godwin. They played mostly bluegrass and Florida Folk (Will McLean and Whitey’s originals which now included The Song of the Lake, Monroe, and Creosote Cemeteries).

Swamprooters at SatchellsIn 1982, Whitey formed "Whitey Markle and the Swamprooters" with Tammy Murray, Dave Gancarz, and Beth Daly. Whitey wrote Thinkin' About You, Babe in 1983. Institutional Blues and East Florida Blues were soon to follow. Since then there have been about twenty different Swamprooters since the band's inception in 1982.

Between 1985 and 1992, Whitey wrote The Cracker Stomp, Them Women Blues, Proletarian Football Blues, and Whatcha Cookin'?

Michael Godwin joined the band in 1985 at age 15. He influenced much of the style for the next 20 years and produced both of "Whitey Markle and the Swamprooters’" albums: CRACKER BLUE in 2001, and HOG WILD in 2007.

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1981 NW 186 Pl., Citra, FL 32113