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Darrel Starr, Coast Guard captain and naval architect, dies on 90th birthday

Published: Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 6:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 6:59 p.m.

Darrel W. Starr Jr., a retired captain of the U.S. Coast Guard, a naval architect and Korean and Vietnam war veteran, died after a short illness at a Santa Rosa care facility on Friday, his 90th birthday.

A native of Los Angeles, Starr in 1943 entered the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in Groton, Conn., where he was a star football player and heavyweight wrestling champion.

Although he didn't serve in action during World War II, on one assignment their boat was forced to evade a German submarine near Bermuda, said his son, Darrel W. Starr III of Rohnert Park.

Starr graduated from the academy in 1948 and served in numerous places, including the Gilbert Islands, Alaska, Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio and San Francisco.

During the Korean war, Starr was on a vessel providing support for the landing of forces led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur at Inchon. He taught at the academy and then attended the University of Michigan in 1959 and received a masters degree in naval architecture.

His last cruise was in 1967 as executive officer aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Roger Tanney from Government Island in Alameda, where it was stationed, to Japan and back.

He was stationed in Washington D.C. and Maryland and retired in 1978 as commander of the 12th Coast Guard District on the West Coast.

“He always said that he never had a day that he didn't enjoy going to work,” his son said. “It was wonderful stuff.”

After retirement Starr worked as a consultant in the Bay Area and lived in Terra Linda before moving to Santa Rosa in 1992.

His wife, Claire Beach Starr, died shortly after they moved to Santa Rosa. They were married 39 years.

He was a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, the American Society of Naval Engineers, USCG Academy Alumni Association, the University of Michigan Alumni Association and the San Francisco Breakfast Club.

He also was inducted into the U.S. Coast Academy Sports Hall of Fame for football and wrestling.

In addition to his son, he is survived by a sister, Margie Sherman of Downey, two grandchildren and companion Molly McGowan.

At his request there will be no services. His ashes will be placed in the San Francisco National Cemetery at the Presidio, San Francisco. The Trident Society handled arrangements.

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