Albion Interactive History / People / Floyd Starr

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / People / Starr Commonwealth

Floyd Elliot Starr, 1883
Founder of Starr Commonwealth

    Died August 27, 1980

Albion College Graduate
Class of 1910

Floyd Elliot Starr was born May 1, 1883 to Marshall Horace Starr and Mary Root at “the Abraham Powers place” outside the rural community of Decatur, Michigan.

As he said of his mother years later, “she had already had two boys and two girls, and she thought that was enough.” Since his sister Martha was fourteen years his senior, Starr admitted that the two were “never close.” It was much the same with his brother Perry, who was eight years older, except that Perry was a bit of a bully “who often treated his kid brothershamefully. “As Starr confided to his son David when the two were considering a biographical study, “I didn’t have too happy a childhood.” In fact he added, “Now in maturity [I think] that as a little boy I wasn’t loved much by anyone.”

In time the day would come when his mother told him, “Floyd, I love you more than anyone else in the world.” In contrast, Marshall Horace Starr remained something of an enigma to his son Floyd. As a rather improvident many, his sudden moves in location andvocation ultimately brought the family to near poverty.

The Marshall Starr family moved first from the Powers farmstead, to another farm nearby, and then made a long move to Benton Harbor, Michigan, and the constructionbusiness. Not many memories of his childhood days in Benton Harbor stayed with Starr in his later years, but one did remain fresh. His parents invited some friends over for dinner on aSunday evening. During their conversation, they talked about adoption. At that time the young Floyd said ‘Well, when I get bigI’m going to buy a farm and adopt 50 children to live on it.’ His mother only smiled and his brother laughed uproariously, he did not ever mention it again until he graduated from college.

For some time he stayed at the home of his father’s mother. There Starr was treated poorly by his grandmother. When Marshall Starr’s health became poor, and Mary Root inherited a farm five miles south of Marshall, the family moved there.

Floyd survived country schooling, and eventually rode a horse five miles to and from Marshall High School. As a student he wasn’t particularly interested in science or mathematics, but he loved to talk.

Too slight and too short for most sports, he more than filled that gap in participating in forensics. His first experiences were in the DebatingSociety , where he and classmate Marie Winso “contrived to be on the same team for four years… and never lost a debate.”

The area in which he excelled however was oratory. After gaining a sound reputation for his prowess in first-year debate, Starr was elected to represent the sophomore class. At one competition he was going along fine, then lost his place, andpaused for a moment. He lost the competition, but it forced him to work harder to regain his good standing among his peers.

That effort not only gained him the presidency of his class for three years, but opened the way to an academic experience far more significant. Late in the first semester of his senior year, Floyd was approach by Mr. Ralph Garwin, the high school principal, and was asked if he would like to take a course inpsychology. During this course Floyd had occasion to have a discussion with “Railroad Jack,” a traveling vagabond and philosopher. In the course of this conversation Floyd made the statement, “There is no such thing as a bad boy,” which later became a hallmark of the institution he was to form several years before then.

Through his activities in the Loyal Temperance League, he came under the direct influenceof two health enthusiasts, Dr. John Kellogg and Bernarr MacFadden. It was clear that his was a conviction that swayed others by its intense sincerity. His meteoric rise in the region from a seat on the Marshall societycabinet to his election to the state presidency, though, was more the consequence of his oratorical abilities. During his senior year he was frequently invited to speak at local meetings and regional conferences, and he represented the LoyalTemperance League at the state rally of the parent organization.

In 1902, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union asked Starr, a senior in high school, to speak at its national convention in Los Angeles. As he commented long after, “At the turn of the century, such an adventure and honor so many thousands of miles from home was pretty heady stuff for a high school lad.” As Starr recalled, “At the close of my address they gave me what they called ‘a Chautaqua salute’ — waving of handkerchiefs by the thousands of women attending the convention.”For the country boy it must have indeed been a high moment.

When Floyd Starr graduated from Marshall High School in June 1902, his associations with the Women’s Christian Temperance Union wereprobably more significant to him that were those with the school. Within weeks after commencement he became convinced that hard-scrabble farming was not forhim. As he phrased it many year later, “The decision was more a matter of would not than could not.”

Moved by memories from his performance at the national convention, a contingent of state president got together to discuss further utilization of theyoung man in the cause of temperance. Once they learned of his record as officer and organizer in Michigan, they sought him as anational field representative for the Loyal Temperance League. He was offered a salary of $50 per month and all expenses. His job was to travel around the country, go among the variousyoung men and women he met, and organize additional units of the LTL.

Although Starr seldom spoke of this commission in his mature years, accepting it was clearly a major decision in his life. Though he would return to the Marshall farmstead from time to time, from his first assignment theyoung man discovered that he was now largely on his own. Beyond his salary, there were other dividends from the experience. Foremost was the development of an uncanny ability to make friends of strangers. Much sooner that he suspected, he would put thecapacity to serve his own needs. He must also have gathered many an insight into youthful minds fromthe teen-agers he met, many a stratagem for confronting their concerns, many an answer to their persistent questions. A final reward from his job on the road was meeting influential personages who figured later in his career. After busy months of field work for the Loyal Temperance League,interspersed with helping at home and picking up odd dollars whenever possible, Starr left the W.C.T.U. to enroll in Kalamazoo College, September 15, 1903.

Like every freshman, he was signed up for Rhetoric, and like most liberal arts students, he enrolled in atrio of history courses. According to his numerical grades, the only course which created problems for young Starr was zoology. Starr stopped attending Kalamazoo after one year.

Soon after leaving Kalamazoo College, Starr worked for a brief time at the MacFadden Health Center in BattleCreek, then left to assist the physical culturist in establishing a “Healthitorium” in Chicago. Once its success was assured, the indefatigable took him on a lecture tour when Floyd arranged his work and itinerary incommunities they visited. These forays into the business world proved invaluable to him during the formative years when he was building the Commonwealth campus.

Eventually the strains of traveling and the demands of lecturing took their took on Floyd’s health. In theweakness of fatigue, the tubercular distress that had afflicted his father so long, was visited upon his son. In Battle Creek, where John Kellogg learned of his young friend’s condition, he admitted him to “the San,” prescribed arigid regimen of complete rest, and “held him there for treatment for some time.”

As Starr was to demonstrate several times across a long life, he was a man of remarkable resilience. Within a matter of months he recovered. Dr. Kellogg was cautious however, and with a Michigan winter coming on, advised him to spend some time in a warm climate with his brother in Texas.There he stayed in Perry’s comfortable home, and later he said “my sister-nurse took care of me until I was perfectly well.”

Shortly after his recovery he began attending Albion College. Starr was “very happy to be accepted at Albion College.” One of the foremost reasons was its comfortable size. Though he often did travel to Battle Creek to be with Dr. John Kellogg. When Starr returned to the classroom he made one disturbing discovery, his peers were all nearly three years younger than him. Indeed, his college sweetheart and wife to be was five years younger than him. With the encouragement of Professor Carlton and other faculty advisors like Dr. Goodrich, the dream he had cherished since boyhood began to assume some promise of realization.

Despite his obligations to Dr. Kellogg at the Sanitarium and his busy academic schedule at Albion, youngFloyd found time to participate in the Atheneum Literary Society and to affiliate with the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. He likewise became caught up in campus politics but soon withdrew because of what he called “the pettiness of the issues.” Of consuming interest at this time was his courtship of Miss Harriet Armstrong.

When Starr graduated from Albion college in June 1910, he was twenty-seven years of age. Not only was he a belated bridegroom, but he had yet to set the firststone in building his school for boys. Starr had neither the assets to purchase the grounds nor the collateral to borrow upon to develop the facilities. Consequently, he chose to return toChicago for more solid field experience in the world of business.

When Starr returned to the Healthitorium, he spread all his cards before his employer. In his words, “Upon going to Chicago to resume my work for him, It toldMr. MacFadden of my desire to establish the Starr Commonwealth. I told him I would like training along business lines but that I eventually would leave his organization when I felt that I was ready to enterupon my long dreamed of work. He gave me a position which necessitated my exercising all the intelligence I possessed. Whenever he had a conference with his attorneys, he took me with him. Where I made mistakes, he corrected them. He backed me in every venture. He gave me a salary in excess of what I was worth.”

Earned or not, that salary was essential in the next phase of Starr’s life. On Christmas Eve, 1910, he married his college sweetheart, Harriet Armstrong, in asimple ceremony at the bride’s home in Fenton, Michigan. After a modest honeymoon, Starr took Harriet back with him to Chicago, where the young bride slipped easily into the routine of the health center. Within mere months she became a “great power for good” as she and Floyd searched their future in working with boys. Their search was to continue for nearly a year and a half. Then, early in the summer of 1912, Starr learned of an opening for an assistant director at the Beluah Land Farm for Boys in Boyne City, Michigan.

Within weeks after arriving at the Beulah Home for Boys at Boyne City, director Hermon L. Swift rumors circulated through the community that Swift was “taking liberties with young boys.” Shortly thereafter he was summoned by court injunction to stand trial for his offenses. Despite protestations of innocence from the director and supportive letters from friends, Hermon Swift was sentenced to one year at the state prison in Ionia. The entire operation of the Beluah home fell into the Starr’s hands.

Starr did have help with the closing. With the approval of the parent organization at the Children’s Temple inChicago, the local Board of Control assumed responsibility for disposing of the 160 acre farm and the ill fated home. Even with the disposal of the property out of his hands, Starr confronted a formidable task. Nearly 50 youngsters suddenly found themselves without a home. Despite the rigors of winter travel in northern Michigan at that time, Starr managed to make satisfactory arrangements for all but thirteen.

During the transitional months at Beluah Home, Harriet announced that she was pregnant. Under the best of circumstances, living conditions at the one-time summer hotel would have been less than ideal for a mother to be. During a Michigan winter, survival in the draftyframe structure must have been a sheer test of endurance. Floyd and Harriet spent extensive time planning the new house in Albion. By the arrival of Spring, with his obligations at Beluah Home fulfilled, Harrietwent to her parents house in Fenton and waited for her child. There on May 5, 1913, Margaret Louise Starr was born.

Looking back upon the year 1913, one hardly need state that for Floyd Starr it had been a remarkable period in his burgeoning career. In spite of his inexperience, he had taken over Beulah Home at its darkest hour and salvaged the full complement of Swift’syoung charges. At the same time he had seized upon the situation there to actualize downstate his own vision of a commonwealth for boys. With the help of his wife and parents he had selected the site for his school, erected Gladsome Cottage, and welcomed the first “new boys” to its door. As a capstone to all, he and his wife had welcomed their firstborn into the Starr household.

More and more people close to Floyd urged him to use his oratorical skills to raise money for the Commonwealth. the advice was well intentioned but reluctantly accepted. Though born into a house of modest means and limited cultural advantages, Floyd Starr was a very proud man. As he told both associates and friends, “Gladly will i give every cent of my money and every minute of my life to this work of helping boys. But there is one thing which I cannot – I will not do. Come what may, never will I ask any man to give one cent to this work. No matter what happens, I will not go out and beg.”

He did of course spend much of his life raising money. Combining instinct with observation, he devised a deceptively simple strategy based on two simpleprinciples of persuasive speaking: never neglect the beguiling fascination of narrative and never underestimate the specific over the general. In practice this meant that he devoted much of each talk to case histories. In addition, at appropriate spots in each anecdote Starr would slip in broad hits for school supplies, for books, for playground equipment, for whatever he sensed his audience might afford.

Fortunately Starr was more than a spell-binding orator with hat in hand. Although only some five and a half feet in height, he was richly endowed with what another generation would call “presence.” As Margaret’s son-in-law commented on one occasion, “When Grandpa comes into the room, he completely fills it.” Over and again he described himself as devoted, dedicated, and committed. These are controversial terms, and he was a controversial figure. Amongfriends and association he personified “a gentleman of the old school” – urbane,courteous, charming. What some named egotism, they called self-confidence; and what others termed stubbornness, they labeled strength of character. Indeed, at times the man one saw was a matter of perspective, for he had many facets.

After nearly five years of marriage and the birth of a daughter, the little family was on the verge of collapse.According to the Battle Creek Enquirer News, “Unknown to their friends, Mr. and Mrs. Starr had been having domestic troubles for some time.” At Gladsome Cottage, however, there was no way to disguise thesituation. Smoldering resentments on both sides finally broke out into open flame, and on November 28 Harriet packed up Margaret and returned to the home of her parents in Fenton.

Starr was appalled. In his won mind, he may have become reconciled to the turmoil of divorce, but he had never imagined that the most intimate details would become publicknowledge. Dismayed by Harriet’s allegations, his first response was a plea for privacy. Only one day after the initial announcement, he granted an interview with the Marshall News Statesman. “In regard to the divorce matter, I can only say this: That it is an affair between husband and wife.” Unhappily for both Floyd Starr and the Commonwealth, the revelation of discord in a house build upon harmony was news of the first order.

At the outset Starr seemed to entertain hopes for some kind of reconciliation. Two weeks after Harriet filed her suit for divorce at the circuit court inFlint, Starr “filed answer… entertaining a general and specific denial of the charges made by his wife and asking that her petition for a decree of divorce be dismissed.” When this was refused,he made three decisions: The first was simple, he would not contest the suit, andwe would learn to live with the results. Since Starr pleaded no contest and Harrietdemanded o property settlement, the divorce was consummated within a matter of weeks.

Starr’s second decision still seems incredible. From the day the degree was grantedhe decided that his wife and daughter had stepped out of his life forever. From that time forward it would be as if they never existed in the past, nor would they re-enter his life in the future. Though such a drastic position could not endure forever,he did persist for over a decade and a half. During those years there is no evidence that Starr referred to his courtship of Harriet, to their marriage, or to their lives together at Beulah Home and Gladsome Cottage. Overnight for him, both wife and daughter became nonexistent entities.

Perhaps Starr’s third resolution to maintain the Commonwealth is self evident. Although he protested from the outset that he still loved Harriet”with the same tenderness that he had always felt towards her” and that he “idolized his daughter,” he was clearly more wedded to his work than to hisfamily. As he stated to one reporter, “I would prefer to suffer accusations and sacrifice my marriage rather than see the Commonwealth go under. Anything said or done at this time to injure the continued progress of the work in which I am engaged in thisinstitution is nothing short of criminal. There is absolutely no possibility of thisschool’s going down, and any specious references to its closing will do more to injure the cause to which my life is dedicated than thisunfortunate divorce could ever do a thousand times over.”

Shortly after Starr’s divorce, his mother fell into ill health, and he sent her to Bradenton, Florida to spend the winter of 1919-20. Apparently it was a case of too little too late, for she developed serious heartproblems from which she never recovered. After two years of semi-invalidism at Gladsome, she died on March 20, 1922, at the age of 77. After the death of his wife, Floyd’s father Marshall Starr admitted he was not fond of staying on the campus. Floyd sent him to work with his friend in Chicago. After four years hereturned to the Commonwealth and moved into his own room at the recently constructed Hillside commissary. While Starr was visiting with his brother Perry Starr in Texas, he found that his father had a stroke and was in poor health. Together the brothers came back to the Commonwealth and saw their father just before he died on March 11, 1925. Marshall Starr was buried in a private service beside his wife in the Marshall Cemetery.

Despite the ordeals of divorce and the death of his parents, Starr maintained firm control over an ever expanding Commonwealth.

At the age of thirty-five, he had already experienced three stages of manhood as son, as husband, and as father. Now he was to become an “honorary uncle” to a transitory “family” ever moving on. If the dregs of divorce were bitter, he never complained. Even though the loss of Harriet dashed his dream of establishing a Starr dynasty to carryon his work, he looked forward to finding an adoptive son as an alternative. The formative years had beenmarked by foreign strife and domestic discord. Now it was time for the Starr Commonwealth to settle into a comfortable era of steady advance.

Floyd Starr was a man of few causes. Instead, wherever he might be, he spoke for the Commonwealth. It is impossible to estimate the value of Starr’s contribution as publicspeaker in those emergent years. As David Starr mentioned, often his father wentvirtually from field to flivver in his travels to raise money for his young project. Certainly, Starr became an extremely popular speaker throughout Michigan and beyond. With consummate skill he blended his oratoricalprowess, his extraordinary charm, and his manifest dedication with an acute sense of his audience and a flair for story telling. When one adds to all these a sharp wit and a saving sense ofhumor, it becomes evident why he rose from obscurity to prominence.

Across a lengthy career, he rarely was completely satisfied with the facilities of theCommonwealth, with the efforts of his co-workers, or with his own. Even those who loved him most, conceded that he was a hard man to please. The reason was simple – he expected from every worker what he demanded for himself. “Don’t think big, think better,” headmonished his staff. “Look around for things to improve; take a look at yourselves and me. There’s always room for improvement in everything and everybody.”

Despite the ravages of two massive wars and a majordepression, the Commonwealth had continued to grow. By mid-century the central campus wasvirtually completed and the academic program firmly established. Within the immediate area it had gained public acceptance, and beyond the state it had secured a sound reputation for its phenomenalsuccess rate in the treatment of juvenile delinquents. Indeed its name had spread far abroad. During the latter years the list of foreign visitors ranged from Scandinavia to England and the Continent, as well as from the Middle East to the Orient. Measured by any standards, the Starr Commonwealth had come into its own.

Incredible as it may seem, during the remainder of a long career Floyd Starr neverdid “find a way to get through that wall” between himself and a successor. Out of a promising sequence of “old boys,” presidentialassistants, department directors, and trustees, for one reason or another not one took over the headship of the institution.Fortunately, Starr did not permit his search for a successor to become an obsession. Once he had assembled astable staff, established the central campus, and developed an accredited school system, he began to breathe more easily. When he took a long lookbackward, he decided it was his turn to travel.

Starr took trips through the Upper Peninsula during the autumn color season. He did another trip with Larry Bendtro, his successor as president, across New England. Much as Starr enjoyed wayfaring near and far of his own country, only a fewtrips abroad confirmed his preference of foreign travel. At age eighty six he departed with David and his wife Elta on a ten-week trip around the world. During the last quarter-century of ha busy career, he made some six tours of Europe, two extensive expeditions across South America, acomprehensive pilgrimage to the Holy Land, separate trips to English and Ireland, a strenuous visit to Central America, a grand tour of Hawaii, and several excursions into Mexico.

Even His Eminence the Pope was not exempt from Starr’s lifelong campaign for hisinstitution. After he received the papal blessing, he deposited several brochuresabout the school at the visitors center before leaving the Vatican. In fact, wherever Starr went around the world, he never found an institution for juvenile offenders and orphans alike that approached his own school in thebeauty of its setting, the taste of its accommodations, the range of its facilities, or thescope of its program.

Just as Floyd Starr’s far-ranging travels came well after he reached the mid-century mark, so did his long list of institutional tributes and personal honors. Once he abandoned his early isolationist policy, heencouraged campus visits by many roving reporters and public figures. Floyd Starr himself took the greatest satisfaction from the honorary degrees accorded him. In 1943, the 30th Anniversary of the Commonwealth, Adrian College accorded him an honorary Doctor of Humanities at its 86th commencement. On June 5, 1950,Albion College awarded the one-time Delt an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on the 40th anniversary of Starr’s graduation from the institution. One year later, on June 16, 1951, Starr received an honorary Master of Arts degree from the University of Michigan.

Mounting academic recognition of Starr’s achievements likewise prompted a similar rise ofcivic interest in the man and his deeds. In 1949 Governor G. Mennen Williams named him to serve on the Michigan YouthCommission, and the VFW bestowed him the regional Citizenship Medal for 1949, an honor elevated to national status when he was given the Gold Citizenship Award for 1961. In June 1951, Starrreceived “the Dale Carnegie International Award in the field of Human Relations.” Long after mid-century Starr continued to receive a variedassortment of honors and tributes from an equally diverse number of organizations. On a June evening in 1963 he was given a Gala Appreciation Banquet sponsored by the Albion Chamber of Commerce. Four year later Starrwas the honored guest of Albion College. At the luncheon on Albion Day, June 10, 1967, he was awarded a special citation. Perhaps equallyrewarding were tributes from co-workers late in his career. Midway in the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth, the Michigan Probate and Juvenile Court Judges Association held its annual convention at Boyne Mountain Lodge near Boyne Falls with Starrr as guest of honor.

In 1967, Larry Bendtro was named the second president of Starr Commonwealth. Out of an honest esteem for the Grand Old Man in child care, the Board of Trusteesresolved to respect his desire to retain as many of his ties to the Commonwealth as they could devise. Consequently he continued to serve on the Board and to live in Candler Hall. There a housekeeper/cook helped provide the necessities of home. Inaddition, a private car with driver was made available for regional trips. He was also named overseer of the farm complex, but the inroads of agribusiness soon madethe position more honorary than active.

In his mid-nineties Starr lost the combativeness which characterized a long life of struggle. Though he advised Ann Eaton, his one-time secretary, “Stay with me because I am going to have another big party on my 100th birthday,” he declinedperceptively after David’s death in 1977. Bouts with the pulmonary affliction which had carried away her father years earlier sapped much of his former vitality, andvirtually complete deafness disturbed his sense of balance. The latter disabilityaroused considerable apprehension among the campus workers who volunteered “to keep an eye on Uncle Floyd.”Since they were especially fearful that he might fall some night or become ill when left alone,Bendtro had a special telephone installed at Candler Hall which was connected directlyto the infirmary whenever the receiver was removed from its cradle. Starr was aghast at the “waste of money,” and he never used the phone.

To the last, Floyd Starr never lost his devotion to his work. At ninety-six he insisted, “I still love my work. I like to work with Dr.Bendtro, and I like to work with Mr. Ness. As they can tell you, I am constantly making suggestions to them. AndI’m still thinking about the future of this campus… there’s always something to be done.” Also there were more tributes and honors to accept. Though he tended todeprecate them among his friends, actually they brought him a great sense of satisfaction in his last years. As he wrotetongue in cheek to Ann Eaton, “I may not deserve all the nice things the people say about me, but sometimes it is nice to be lied about.”

In the late summer of 1979, Starr wrote his daughter in law, “Elta, I am not feeling as well as I did a year ago. I am going to Tucson right after Thanksgiving, and I shall be gone nearly five months. I have never been away from the school for such a long period of time, and neversince the school was started sixty-six years ago have I spent Christmas away from campus.” The old ties wereloosening still more; but, he admitted, “it is the only sensible thing for me to do.”

While Starr was in Arizona, Vice President Arlin Ness also did a sensible thing. Still fearful that the nonagenarian might suffer a fall, he persuaded the trustees to carpet every room in Candler Hall. Upon his return, Starr wasappalled by the probable cost, but he loved the luxury. The cushioning underfoot may have given him a false sense of security, for he resumed a good bit of his old independence.

Then one morning, as he searched for a suit in the uncarpeted walk-in closet off his downstairs bedroom, he slipped and fell. Although he only cracked his pelvic bone, shortly thereafter he developed severe ulcers which sent him to the Albion Community Hospital.

Among the staff at the Commonwealth, Arlin Ness was with Uncle Floyd the most during his last days. “Mainly I talked to him about the school,” Ness recalled later. “I never was certain how much he heard, but he seemed to be listening.”

Even as he drifted toward death, his old-time faith remained. “It really was remarkable,” Nesssaid later. “One evening, when I asked him how he was, he even managed a tiny smile. ‘I am at peace,’ he murmured.” Two days later, on August 27, 1980, Floyd Starr died in his sleep.

A few days later a small circle of family and friends gathered at the gravesite near the hillside cross. It was a quiet little band, each engrossed in his own thoughts of the man who lay before them. From the Episcopalian Book ofCommon Prayer they followed with Father James Greer of Albion the “Ritual for the Burial of the Dead.” It was a solemn service, but it was not said. As the rector said in his homily, “Floyd Starr has fought the good fight. Now he had finished his course, but he kept the faith.” “I have no fear of death,” Starr declared only the year before. “It’s part of the future, andI’m not concerned about the future. God will take care of that.”

On the following Sunday, September 7, the full complement of workers and boys at the Albion campus held their own memorial service in the chapel. After Vice President Arlin Ness read the 23rd Psalm, President LarryBendtro traced Starr’s contributionsto boy care over the years. “Most of you never knew Uncle Floyd,” he concluded, “and that is your loss. He was a great man whom time will not forget.” After the reading of selected biblical passages by Directors Martin Mitchell and Ron Petty, Chaplain KennethPonds led the processional to the gravesite for the final prayer. Five days later many of the boys left the campus for the Labor Day weekend.

At mid-afternoon on Sunday the 14th, a quite different congregation overflowed theChapel-in-the-Woods. Members of the family and friends of Floyd Starr throughout mid-Michigan, neighbors from the community of Albion, old boys with their families, former staff members on every level, fellow Masons, juvenile judges, all who had known and esteemed the man came to pay their final homage. At his own request, the service was marked by simplicity. Every effort was made to include spokesmen who had known him as co-worker, counselor, friend, or just as “Uncle Floyd.” Dr. J. Stefan Dupre, a professor at the University of Toronto and the husband of Starr’s only grand-daughter Anne, spoke for the family on “Beloved Father.” “It was kind of like an early Thanksgiving service,” commented one alumnus from afterward. “Nobody said how much we all willmiss him; instead everybody talked about how grateful they were for his contributions to their lives and to society in general. I think he would have like it.” The following poem was shared as part of the Memorial Tribute to Floyd Starr:

Wanderers from city streets,
Lone children, homeless and afraid,
Youth, unwanted, scorned, forgotten,
They came seeking, seeking a place
to ease their wounds
to shield their faith.
They came seeking, and here they found
This Man of God.
He walked in the Beauty of the Land.
He walked to the Music of the Spheres.
He walked to the Wonder of a Life Given in Love.
We walked down the Cycle of the Years.

by Eleanor Currie Lampman, a friend

Source: Keith Fennimore. Faith Made Visible: The History of Floyd Starr and His School. Albion, Michigan: Starr Commonwealth. 1988.

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