Victoria couple honored for commitment to education

Feb. 7, 2012 at 7:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 6, 2012 at 8:07 p.m.

John and L'Nell Starkey of Victoria.

John and L'Nell Starkey of Victoria.

John and L'Nell Starkey may not have known why they were chosen to be honored at VISD Education Foundation's concert, but it's clear to most everyone else.

"We were just amazed. We thought, 'Why us? What's the deal? What have we done?'" L'Nell Starkey said. She settled on the couples' commitment to education as the reason behind the honor.

But there seems much more to it than that.

The Starkeys, whose five children graduated from VISD and Baylor University, were recognized Tuesday night at the second annual Hall of Honor Tribute hosted by the VISD Education Foundation. Choirs, bands, theater and dance groups from across the district turned out to honor the couple who have dedicated their time and money to young people in Victoria since the two arrived in 1961.

Along with John Starkey's medical practice that's spanned 50 years, the couple has had their hands in several causes such as the Boy and Girl scouts, the South Texas Children's Home and the church.

"They're folks who really give a lot of themselves, particularly to kids," said their pastor, Tim Williams at Northside Baptist Church.

The Starkeys are involved in fundraising and other committees at church, Williams said, and John Starkey is a dedicated Bible teacher, who's always asking questions.

"He's somebody who's still growing and still learning, and that's part of being a good teacher and good influence," Williams said.

John Starkey said he and his wife recognized they received good educations in childhood from public schools, which helped them succeed in college, where they met.

Now, they hope to afford the same opportunities to other kids.

"We've seen the difference it makes in peoples' lives to be educated and equipped ... to be well-versed in what it takes to make a meaningful place in society," he said. "It's just an integral part of American life, to be well educated where you can do a good job in whatever you take up, whatever you ascribe to."

As part of their commitment to education, the Starkeys have endowed scholarships, one of which goes to Victoria area students attending the couple's alma mater, Baylor University.

As a bonus, the Baylor Wind Symphony was scheduled to make an appearance at the Hall of Honor Tribute.

Of course, the Starkeys weren't just going to sit back and enjoy the show. John Starkey used the opportunity to again garner support for education.

"We just certainly hope that our community will support the Victoria Education Foundation because we feel that they do great work in establishing scholarships and other resources for learning," he said. "We certainly appreciate them for their work."



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