My Tribute To My Dad, William R. Starr
My memories are flooding my mind right now at a high rate of speed. Starting in Coldwater, Michigan was the earliest beginning of memories. Dad started a church in Albion and would drive the thirty miles back and forth. He was an on time person with many jobs and somehow I rarely remember him missing anything that he felt important.
Mom would have meals on the table for him everyday it seemed as soon as he arrived home. There were few fast food places at that time and Dad would come in a hurry and it was our family time with him. He ask how our day was, and what had we done. He seemed to always most of all ask if we were doing our schoolwork, and getting good grades. He said that I was smart and if I didn’t understand ask questions. That right there seemed like a huge responsibility to ask questions because I usually had a lot of stuff I didn’t understand.
He was very involved with his secular job to support his family plus pastoring the church and he seemed to build the church visiting the sick, which he past down to my brother in law David Trammell. He was diligent to drive to Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Marshall, and Ann Arbor and it seemed always someone was in need of prayer. He never stayed long but it was a stabilizing asset in building the Albion church.
I always thought Mom did everything but preach and visit the hospital. She was a wonderful comfort to folks with tragedy or sickness so she did that caring ministry when she was needed, but dad was a man of many routines that he kept up till he died.
Growing up one of dad’s favorite outings was getting us all in the car in the evening and heading to an Apple Orchard. He would have us come in and watch them press the apples for Cider and he would buy a big bag of Apples and we would feel like he done something grand with us. Many time we would take a ride after that and ride out in the Countryside and if we past any saints house and they were in the yard and waved to us to stop we would be allowed to get out and run around the yard for a very few minutes while he talked to the adults. Sometimes their garden would be ready for harvest and they would send us home with vegetables and dad would exclaim how nice that kind of life was and how fresh the vegetables were for us. He always wanted us to feel how blessed we were.
I never remember him talking bad about anyone, although after I grew up and I understood more I realized he had a quality for trying to help the struggling that showed a desire to make it. He could pick up on the wrong kind of spirits and attitudes that would tear down and destroy Godly living and dedications. He could scare you with his reaction. He really pushed beyond his own endurance to help people that showed a desire to be a good Christian against all odds. There have been many that became very stable and good helpers in the church because he would promote them to push beyond their childhood set backs and depression and they would flourish and become most dependable and reliable servants at the church.
Dad allowed me to teach a Sunday school Class at a fairly young age. I loved children so I had about twenty 3 year olds and I was admonished to make sure when they left my class they had something to tell their Parents about Characters in the Bible. He said Love the children for some it may be the only place they are hugged and cared for tenderly. Plus teach them about Jesus. So I felt serious about my class and you didn’t take a class and not study or take it serious dad checked to see if I was doing a good job or just lollygagging around was his words.
I lead Choir at 15 years old with the help of Mom. Dad would try to get us as involved with the leadership of what ever he thought we could handle and then he would critic you. When I started singing solo’s he would have me stand in front of him sometimes and have me sing a song. He then would give me my singing lessons. He would say now don’t garble up your words distinctly sing the words so folks can understand the words in the back. Put your head up high and well the lesson’s would begin. Looking back singing was my best enjoyment and he did make me very aware of how to project your voice and pronounce the words to be effective.
In 5th or 6th grade I started playing Clarinet and Tenor Sax. The first day I brought it home was a church night he said go ahead and take your horn and sit on the front row of the Orchestra and see what you can do. Now days we think folks have to be well learned but I actually learned to play faster than my classmates.
Dad was a spontaneous, affectionate dad mostly with words. He would compliment often our accomplishments. And tell us you’re a beautiful girl. Although he pretty much left us up to mom unless there was a problem and he needed to get involved he had five girls and was very confidant in mom’s judgment and running of the home.
All through high school for me dad went to work five days a week, working for the Secretary of State as a License Administrator. So I rode in his company car every morning as far as the Post Office. I would try to be very quiet so he wouldn’t ask questions possibly, but that was his time to grill me on boyfriends, School and how I was doing. Many times he said I was like talking to the wall. He liked interaction more and I like to keep quiet incase my information would upset him. I realize he wanted to connect and I didn’t think I was doing that great.
Dad was very proud of all five of his girls. I am sure he would have loved a boy but he has five wonderful Sons now in the work of the Lord. When I was dating and serious about Martyn Ballestero dad would often make statements to me like “ Is he a Pentecostal Romeo that goes Port to Port breaking girls hearts”. Now that did make me uncomfortable and I did not like dad saying that, but I realize now he was worried. I only really remember hearing about Mom for him and he married her as soon as he could. I never remember hearing about any other girlfriends. He would say to me when I was engaged, ”You are marrying a young Evangelist if ever he physically abuses you, come home because he will never stop, and I will support you and take care of you” Also, if he starts coming up with a watered down message or false Doctrine come back home and be around the truth or you will miss the Rapture because your mind will believe a lie and well you know the rest of that scripture.” My Dad believed this one God, One Faith, One Baptism in Jesus name and living a Godly Holy Life separate from the world with all his heart. NO one could ever say about him that he lived and preached the Apostolic Message, but didn’t really believe with his whole heart. He wrote books on it, he had a life that backed it up and he preached it often to our church and family. Dad loved us all fiercely and that included his own Siblings and nieces and Nephews, but he made no excuses or compromise for any of them when they quit living for God, he grieved about their change from God to the World.
There was a High Water Mark for all of us girls. Well, I might take this a bit further the High Water Mark was for all of his Family. He seemed to be the Father of us all. For his Sisters and their families also. He was revered by all, he earned respect because he was unwavering in the Gospel and Honest Living and all his Education was to further the Gospel and his ability to Lead people to God and see lives changed. He Loved the Poor illiterate people and to him they were more of a interest to see their life take on a new meaning. He would put dignitaries in the back seat and pick up a derelict and take him to his destination and talk a bit about what was happening in their life, and when he dropped them off his quest got back in the front seat with him. My father put no airs on he was so real and he truly loved people. At his funeral one young man came from the prison and was brought in chains and allowed to show his last respects to dad. He cried so much in jail until they brought him for a few moments so he could show his respect. Dad would hear of someone in jail that he had worked with and without an invitation he would go visit them and pray for them. He had a heart for troubled hurting people.
The Michigan District Camp was a dream of his for a Godly Enjoyable place for people to come and enjoy fellowship and vacation time with God’s people. His sisters were written right into the contract at first. They cooked the most luscious meals and were so hospitable and kind to folks .They made a wonderful atmosphere because of their good food and smiles and joy of serving God’s Family. Dad would say if there is good food, a good happy atmosphere for dining, fellowship and good church this camp will be a valuable asset to the Michigan District. The first camp at Fischer Lake was when I was 13 being the first child in our family to go and he was District Supt. Of Michigan I was to be the best kid out there. Well , I never made a problem I was afraid to . He would say if you disgrace me I will have to quit preaching because no one will want to hear a preacher if his own kids don’t act right. So that rang in my ears often even when I wanted to do just a little something off limits. I wasn’t perfect but it sure kept me from being noticed for bad stuff…I didn’t want the disapproval of God for making my father quit preaching.
Dad loved to go to the Camp in Marshall area on the day of registration. He would sit in the car and watch the lines of girls and boys as they registered and were given their Counselor and dorm assignments. He would tell us and laugh so hard about the difference in the girls line and the boy’s line. He said those boys were sparring and moving constantly and the girls line was very quiet. He actually liked the situation ….the boys were being boys. Once in a while he would spire or try to with us to teach us girls how. It was not all that fun cause we weren’t really excited about doing that with our dad. He would laugh and try to show us the proper way to box, but one time it backfired. Priscilla hit his nose and caused him great pain, the funny thing dad was shocked. Mom had to intervene and fix him up and rescue Priscilla. She wasn’t going to do well in sparring.
Dad did so well at Funerals. I got to hear funeral messages through the years even since I am married and away. I still appreciate his style at funerals. He would always find as much about the person as he could that was good and fun and use that to make the person come alive. He said after all, the Funeral is about that person and no one else. The Family needs to feel some warmth and a good message about their Loved one. He would say it isn’t the time for me to say my own agenda or chastise people I finally have in my hearing. And I understand and appreciate his style so much now. He would preach about Jesus Name Baptism and the Holy Ghost, but it would be so inspirational it made you want it. The person the funeral was about was recognized and given as much attention and honor as possible. If he didn’t know the person he would talk to relatives and find out any things that they would like told or mentioned. I was forever changed about funerals. I have heard so many that you would hardly know that the person the funeral was about was even the reason they were ask to speak. That seemed so unkind to me. Only one funeral do I remember dad did the family request and allowed the trio to sing “Wasted Years”. It was their request and it seemed so sad because the man had known the Lord and he did waste it. That was unusual request.
Dad had regular fast days. He again was very dedicated to a steady fast day and in his day when you fasted it was with no water, chewing gum or drinks of any kind and sure no bites of food. Now they have all kinds of fasts…I often wonder if he would have partaken of these new fastings. I doubt it. You would have to say it was a health fast not a Godly dedication fast, I am thinking. Lots of things would be not sanctified to him. He had a routine. He would break the fast at 3pm and I remember Mom getting his food ready and on the table and he would kneel down and I memorized most of his prayer hearing it so often. It would be like this…”King of Kings Lord of Lords and God of My Salvation. Let the Captive go free and the Oppressed go Free and heal the backslider and raise up a standard against Evil.”
I have been told so many times by General Board Members of the United Pentecostal Church that they respected dad so much. He was on the General Board for 30 year or so since he was Supt. Of Michigan. He also served as one of the Six Elders for the General Board. He was considered very wise. They would say your dad doesn’t say much but when he does we all sit up and take notice because he has valuable things to say. When he speaks it is definite and strong and important. Dad didn’t say whatever was on his mind all the time. When he spoke on any important subject it turned out like he said. I don’t remember him missing the mark. He was a fair man not a argumentative man he allowed people to think themselves if they weren’t off track. He didn’t make issues and divisions over trivial selfish stuff. If he thought it was important enough to make a point he would make it but that wasn’t his whole identity to stir up strife and confusion. He wanted to bring about the right conclusion.
Dad was able to work with Men that were not just the same thinking as he on every issue. He let me know when I married and became an Evangelist wife that everywhere I went things would be done different, sung different, styles different that every church would have it’s own personality. He said he didn’t want me to be a bitter judgmental person. He wanted me to keep fresh and moved when I sang and serve with a easy good way in the Lord. He would say you may see things done different but if they have good dedication to God and are filled with the Holy Ghost and Baptized in Jesus name and live a good life don’t spend your time picking people apart because they don’t do everything your style or you will lose your tenderness and be much less worthwhile than who you are trying to destroy. It has made me very careful of how I consider people. He would say what your criticizing in them it could be you are messed up yourself in another area they are not so just keep a fresh, sweet way .
Dad gave lessons of life in unexpected moments but through the years I realize how important it was that he touched my life about the things that could have destroyed my tenderness towards God’s People that I would be trying to win to him or work with. He would say we are not God. God is better to people than we are. It would not be hard to hurt someone and be the one that helps the devil destroy them. Now that scares me. I have lived long enough to have those words come back to me…”Remember God isn’t mean he loves people better than we do”,
Growing up we were taught to prefer our dad at the table he was served first and he always sat at the head of the table. He would come in the door and sit down and we would remove his shoes many times and he would get the paper first, and we would try to pave his way wherever we could to make him more comfortable. Our mom taught us that and we never thought to not want to do it we looked for ways to do things for him because he worked so many jobs mom said we should help him anyway we could.
Mom would fix dad’s breakfast early in the morning and while he was eating go out and warm his car and shovel the snow off the car and he would get in and drive off. She was a wonderful example of a wife she was not selfish with her efforts she just did it whether it was easy or not. When he went to the camp and Conferences and would be in long meetings he could tell her something he needed done and she would do it without a bad attitude or acting like she was imposed upon. I see so much un-wifely attitudes now days it scares me. No wonder some families can’t flourish because they have forgotten what true love is about. Even when every feeling isn’t perfect for you in your relationship you still keep doing the right things until it does clear up.
Mom is still well thought of and beautiful at 83. She is still a good wife and strong as she is in her personality she is not yet old enough to shirk her wifely dedication and she also still believes in serving and making the home comfortable, with meals there often around the table. Fun Coffee and Tea breaks on the front porch. There are some rewards of Life that you aren’t cheated of because you kept a consistent dedication to husband and wife and family of the duties that make a home run good and keeps the communication from failing and love alive. Mundane yes but still so important that many never figure out how much easier it would be to keep doing those old fashion homey duties and task. And now since I have been married almost 45 years all Mom and Dad’s old-fashioned teachings have been carried on and are working for my good and my families good.
God has blessed us to stay true to the Gospel, Home life style, dress codes, and life has been more good than bad. We know we all will have bad times, but the balance is on the good when it is all said and done.
I was 17 when Sara Lee was born. Dad got to name her. I thought that was my baby. Now dad had five girls. Grandpa would always pray for a boy to carry on the Starr name.
Dad said he was fine with girls that he would be too hard on a boy because if his boy showed any sissy actions he would kick him in the seat of his pants. I believed him. Dad had his very way of expressing himself for sure. You might never realize it unless you got close enough to him and seen situations that would cause his reaction.. He had a strong code of ethics for us all to live by. Nothing too far out very normal but you at least had to do the basics of good living.
He did allow us to have our own style and talk if we needed to, whether he agreed or not he would hear you out then speak. He had been a debater in school and a good one and he had the good listener part down. But when you were done if what you expressed was crazy he would tell you that is crazy and let you know the consequences of your thinking. I tried the middle of the road throughout life cause I was taught to be fair, not meaner than God and to respect others that are on the same path with you.
One day I heard about Christian Schooling. I ask dad if I could go to that because the school was getting bad with fights etc. He looked at me he said you are going to be stronger going to Public School. You show them how good it is to live for God and you can affect more lives going to public school. He said” He didn’t want me to be a fragile weak-kneed Christian, a failure with no strength to live for God. He said you have to learn to live for God through Everything No matter what happens around you and be strong and not wavering. Well, that was the end of that question.
I don’t remember dad being the carpenter of the house I remember Mom doing whatever she could and believe me she built nice fake fireplace with the electric logs and fire looking warm even though it was home made it had the effect. Mom decided she wanted the kitchen changed or Closet made and she figured out it wasn’t a weight baring wall so she took a big tool like a pick axe and tore the wall out. Dad walked in from work and looked at it and said well that is the way it is huh. Well call Mr. Mishler to help you men make good money to do plumbing and building. He let mom do whatever she thought they could afford and he liked it and he went about his Father’s business and work.
His work was more with his mind and heart and God used him. He worked a secular job all my life at home and I ask him one day when I realized most Pastor’s were full time. He said, “The reason I work is I don’t want you girls to think you do without because of the church, I take care of my family myself and don’t want you girls to blame the church for what you don’t have” I wouldn’t not have blamed the church anyway because we were never allowed to feel sorry for ourselves about much of anything. Dad would not allow us to feel like we had a bad life he would remind you of what all you did have and of course I remember the Children in China can’t ask for whatever they want they have nothing to eat.
I remember how nice the simple things of life are and how much more they mean than things of extravagance. Because of good family Christmas, Holidays and summers we were taught to enjoy regular stuff that others lived with. I felt so much love, and it felt safe in our home. Outside the boundaries of what was taught, brought too much confusion and failure. I thank God that I don’t feel like I need to change or improve upon what is Biblical or my family life style and I can enjoy anything that is Good for me.
I don’t want to forget the Root Beer Stand, the Apple Orchards and rides in the Countryside and the family fun going to the old swimming hole with a lunch. I don’t want to forget how simple and true and exciting it is to live for Jesus the way Dad and Mom’s lives taught us. Who am I to dream up a new idea to change the effect of Good Godly conscious living there is so much peace even in storm tossed times knowing the confidence in God we were taught and I want my kids to do the same. Technology may change and things may get more modern all the time but in all things dad would say let your moderation be known. That meant to me some things I could do but moderation keeps you safe and a Godly consciousness keeps you safe through all. This is just a drop in the bucket of memories about how dad was.