On Sunday, May 26th, 2019, the Vince Lombardi tutored hall of fame quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, Bart Starr, died in Birmingham, Alabama at the age of 85. Apparently, he has been dealing with various serious health conditions over the last several years, but what most people do not know is that he and his family have been dealing with tragedy for much longer than that.
Over the last five to six years or so, the Super Bowl Champion suffered a couple of massive strokes, a heart attack as well as multiple seizures. In 2015, he suffered a serious and life threatening bronchial infection before breaking a hip, but the strong and courageous man refused to surrender.
Maybe that could be chalked up to all those years of playing for Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers who prided themselves on toughness a lot like the Chicago Bears under the leadership of George Halas, but that is a story for another day. On a more serious note, the following reveals the kind of a man he was and should be remembered as.
The following was published on the official Packers site…
“Bryan Bartlett “Bart” Starr of Birmingham passed away, surrounded by his family and close friends, on Sunday, May 26, 2019. He is survived by his loving and supportive wife of 65 years Cherry, his son Bart Starr, Jr., three granddaughters (Shannon, Jenny, and Lisa) and three great grandchildren (Bryan, Teddy, and Violet). He was preceded in death by his parents Benjamin Bryan Starr and Lula Tucker Starr, his brother Hilton, and his son Bret.
Bart was honored to attend and play football at Sidney Lanier High School in Montgomery, and at the University of Alabama. During the next 16 years, he was blessed to be a quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. He always stressed to his family, friends, and fans that he received far too much credit for the five NFL championships the Packers achieved under Coach Vince Lombardi. He knew that without the unselfishness, focus, and determination of every member of the team, including the coaching staff and the organization, none of that success would have been possible. His respect for his teammates was profound and enduring. One, Zeke Bratkowski, became as close as a brother.
During his time with the Packers, Bart fell in love with the residents of Green Bay and the entire state of Wisconsin. Because he came from such humble beginnings, Bart had the greatest respect for the work ethic, generosity, and true sense of family values that permeate Wisconsin. After praying with Cherry about their desire to give back to the community they so cherished, he met John Gillespie. John asked Bart to help build Rawhide, a ranch for at-risk teenage boys who needed spiritual support. In his office, Bart displayed a photograph of a group of young men who were working their way through Rawhide with the guidance of God and their counselors. Nothing could exceed the joy he received when, decades later, he met the men who were once residents at Rawhide and had become wonderful fathers and role models.
Upon his return to Alabama in the early 1990s, he found immense meaning in supporting the missions of Children’s of Alabama and Cornerstone Schools for underserved students. He and Cherry also became deeply involved with the Humane Society of Birmingham. Each of these charitable causes filled Bart’s soul with inspiration and gratitude, for they reflected the selfless qualities he witnessed daily by the residents of Alabama.
Following the serious strokes, he suffered in September 2014, his daily challenges provided yet another occasion for thankfulness; he recognized that the opportunity to again see his beloved friends in Green Bay would be well worth the extraordinary effort required to make those trips happen.
As he left this world, he did so in peace, having never lost his faith, and having always trusted in the goodness of humanity.
A Birmingham service, “Celebrating the Legacy of Bart Starr,” will take place from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday, June 9, at the Wright Center, Samford University. The Starr family is making arrangements for an additional celebration in Green Bay, with details to be finalized as soon as possible. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of your choosing, or to the Bart and Cherry Starr Foundation, which supports the causes noted herein.
Donations are being accepted by the Bart & Cherry Starr Foundation, 2647 Rocky Ridge Lane, Birmingham, AL 35216.”
The Death of his Son:
The once indestructible quarterback that dominated the 60’s like Joe Namath, also had personal demons to conquer. Starr and his wife, Cherry, were married for over 60 years. They raised two boys in which the youngest, got caught up in drugs as a teenager. The troubled teen ended up dying of a cocaine related death at the tender age of 24 in his Florida home.
“He has gone public with a message of warning, discipline and hope. Parents who tragically lose a child to drugs can either bury themselves in grief or try to reach out to others. Bart and (his wife) Cherry have made a decision to reach out, to fight. They loved Bret so much, and they were such caring parents. They never abandoned Bret, and they don’t want to abandon him now–though this is hard on Bart because he’s such a private person,” says Connie Grunwaldt, a young Milwaukee businesswoman and close personal friend of Starr as they grew up together.
A Few Words from the Man Himself…
“I hate cocaine, I hate the cocaine evil. I’m angry that it’s doing all this damage, but I question whether the country is angry enough even now to lick it. Killer drugs are destroying and debilitating us, and we still haven’t got serious about (the problem). It lapped us long ago. We’ll have to race hard now just to catch up.”
“I think education and awareness are much of the answer, but the job is tougher than it seems. We don’t any of us know as much as all of us should know about this evil. I want to know, and then I want to help in the area of (public) awareness. I want to try. We desperately need better information. Being the conservative I am, I feel that there are more crucial things to do at this time than (decriminalize drugs).”
“But I feel that we should all keep an open mind. The problem is so severe that every parent, every church, every organization should be willing and anxious to get all the evidence–to listen to all the information–before making inflexible decisions on (decriminalization) or anything else.”
“I think the greatest form of (parental) leadership is by example. There are no guarantees that you won’t fail. But your chances are good if the example you set stresses the proper values: good morals, the work ethic, the right perspective on living, continuous, unconditional love.”