One of bottle collecting’s most prominent and well-liked members died October 3 from heart and kidney complications, Stephen “Peck” Markota was a mainstay of the hobby and good friend to everyone. He was 76.
Peck, as we all called him, was a man who not only loved collecting bottles and other assorted things, he also was a man who spent much of his adult life spreading the word and working to further his fascination and love for antique bottles. He and his wonderful wife, Audie, wrote the definitive book on western soda bottles and then another on California Hutchinson bottles. He started the first bottle show in the Sacramento area in Folsom on June 14, 1969. This set the stage for others who would follow and begin setting up their own shows throughout the state. Among his many achievements, he was elected the Federation of Historic Bottle Collectors second vice chairman of the first FOHBC board of directors at the 1969 meeting in Berkeley. He was also elected 1st vice chairman of FOHBC at the convention in Denver in 1969. A member of 11 different bottle clubs, a tireless bottle exhibitor and author, his enthusiasm for the hobby never waned. As well known bottle guru Bill Baab wrote in 2006, “In nearly every club, there is a nucleus of a few members who do all the work needed to keep it going, while the rest of the membership are content to do nothing. Meet Peck Markota, one of the workhorses of the Federation.” Peck was eventually elected to the FOHBC Hall of Fame in 1993 and was the Federation’s first Honorary Director. As many have said, it was Peck who was the true spark behind the Federation being founded.
Most of all, it was Peck the nice guy. Peck, who would talk about his kids, grandchildren and great grandchildren as if they were angels, sent to earth. He never had a bad word to say about anyone and that’s the truth. When someone passes on, we hear the most wonderful things about them regardless of whom they were. I can assure you that everything people will say about Peck from here on is the truth. When I started my antique bottle auctions, I wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms. The first National show I went to I felt quite awkward and a little out of place. Who came up to me and introduced me to the mainstays of the hobby? You guessed it. Peck judged people by who they were not what he’d heard. If somebody had something bad to say about someone else, Peck would just as soon walk away and start a discussion with another friend. He was opinionated but his wonderful smile and generous demeanor were only stoking a friendly fire. He wanted so badly to share his passion and love of the hobby, he literally spent much of his life doing just that.
Goodbye, old friend, I still say your name almost every day as I write my bottle descriptions and talk about sodas. A day before he died I was doing the soda section of our upcoming auction and like every auction, without Peck and Audie’s book, I’d be lost. Markota this, Markota that, his quest for knowledge never stopped, thank goodness. His legacy will live on; it’s in so many of us who were lucky enough to know him. He never stopped giving and now we’ll never stop remembering him. Peck Markota, a great man and bottle pioneer. The hobby wouldn’t be the same without you and that my friend will be true forever. Goodbye.