He began his flying career when he graduated from the Naval Air Training Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1943. George Bush was his classmate. Although they were not close, Markloff does not like to hear President Bush called a wimp.
"People today confuse bravado with courage," he said, noting that Bush was shot down during the war.
Markloff said that he, too, flew combat missiions during World War II. He was stationed on the aircraft carrier Yorktown in the South Pacific, and remained on active duty with the Navy for 13 years. He was in the reserves at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station until he retired in 1979.
Meanwhile, he rose from regional sales manager to executive vice president of Gates Engineering Co. of Wilmington, which manufactures rubber coatings for industry. During his 30-year tenure, he said, sales climbed from $700,000 to $50 million. He retired in 1986.
Also for the last 20 years, the Chestnut Hill resident has operated Top of the Hill Farm Market in a parking lot off Bethlehem Pike near Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill. Much of the produce sold under the red shed by members of the Markloff family is grown at Styer's Orchards.
Markloff said he grew up in the Huntingdon Valley when it was still mostly farm country and, despite his move to the city, he maintained his interest in farms by running the farm stand from the end of June until October.
That the Markloff family would run Styer's Orchards is not a new idea, he said. "We've been talking about it for years."
"Last fall Tom Styer called up and said, 'Ray, are you ready?' " Markloff said. His answer was yes. He began managing the farm store and 100 acres of orchards on Jan. 1.
He plans no changes "of a drastic nature."
"We want to continue the business as much as possible because it's financially successful," he said. "It is among the largest farm markets in the state."
One thing he would like to do, however, is have more schoolchildren tour the farm. Last year, 20,000 children, many of them from the inner city, watched cider being made and apples being graded. This year, Markloff hopes to host 30,000 children.
The Styer family has owned the orchard, since 1910, when T. Walter "Pop" Styer Jr. began tilling the fields with a horse-drawn plow. He celebrated his 94th birthday March 12.
According to Pop Styer's son, Thomas W. Styer 3d, the family wishes to become less involved in the business. Thomas Styer has moved to the Florida Keys, and his son, William T. Styer, is considering a move to Idaho.
"My son likes the wide open spaces, so I knew it would come to this eventually," said Thomas Styer. In addition to the 100 acres on Woodbourne Road, the family once owned and rented 100 acres in Bucks Conty for farming, he said. That property was sold, he said, because it became difficult to farm as the area became suburban.
"You just can't take slow-moving farm equipment on those roads," he said. ''It's very hazardous."
Calling Markloff "a longtime friend and customer," Styer says his family ''feels very fortunate to have the Markloff family carry on the business pretty much as it has been run."