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Lois Shoemaker Markus ’45

December 11, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Lois began her life in North Dakota as the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. From early childhood she demonstrated exceptional visual and musical memory and taught herself to read music from church hymnals. A curious, observant, and resourceful child, she loved using her hands to draw, paint, sew, and embroider. She enjoyed school and spent hours reading library books. In high school, she played flute in the band and orchestra and delighted in art classes.

At Reed, she found herself among kindred spirits. Her reading strengths allowed her to study broadly, focusing on early modern European history, and upon graduation she was awarded a prize for her senior thesis, “The Puritan Movement and the Problem of Authority in the Tudor State, 1570–1603,” advised by Prof. Reginald Arragon [history 1923–74].

Following a year as a researcher for the Encyclopedia Britannica in Chicago, Lois earned an MA from Radcliffe College and then worked as a reference librarian in the history department at the Boston Public Library. While taking classes at Harvard, she met Lawrence Markus on a blind date, and they married in Paris on the first anniversary of their acquaintance. Laurence completed his fellowship, and they returned to the U.S. a year later when their daughter, Sylvia, was born. Their son, Andrew, was born while they were living on the East Coast.

The family moved to the Midwest when Lawrence accepted a position in the math department at the University of Minnesota. Eventually he added a long-term visiting professorship at the University of Warwick in England, which allowed Lois to immerse herself in her love of English culture. With the children away in college, Lois traveled with Lawrence to conferences in the U.S. and abroad, including Switzerland, Iran, Japan, and China, forming lifelong friendships around the world.

Through the years, she took classes in art, needlework, piano, and organ. Later in life, she mastered the craft of bobbin lace making. She enjoyed visiting English village markets to rescue and preserve pieces of fine lace, and eventually donated her extensive collection to a museum.

A lifelong supporter of Reed, Lois created the Lois Shoemaker Markus Library Fund, which provides an annual grant to the library for scholarly acquisitions in the areas of music, art, and humanistic studies. She is survived by her daughter, Sylvia Mohn.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2022

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