In the mid 1960s, Captain Al Skinner of the Fire Islander noted to his deckhands that every summer when the Starkeys showed up for the first time, they were carrying a new Starkey in their arms. Dick and Elizabeth raised their family and inspired a couple generations of Saltaire youths (and grownups too) with their love of history, politics, family, sports, friendship, and love.
Always the idealist, Dick was upset when, at Bishop Loughlin, he heard that Franklin Roosevelt had died.
Starkey served as Press Secretary for Paul O’Dwyer’s 1968 campaign against Jacob Javits for the United States Senate. Talk about impossible dreams.
In 1968 Martin Luther King had been killed in the spring, and Robert Kennedy a month or two later. Now it was August 1968 on a very hot summer night in a park across from Chicago’s Conrad Hilton hotel. That’s where the New York Delegates to the Democratic convention were staying. They were supposed to be down at the stockyards, where the convention was going on, but an angry bunch of New York delegates, led by Paul O’Dwyer and others, had walked out of the convention and were in this park filled with angry conventioneers and press reporters and klieg lights. Respectable crowd, this was not the Hippies or the Yippies. These were delegates. But they were just as angry as Hoffman and Rubin.
You could see O’Dwyer through the crowd because his white hair shone under the klieg lights like an apparition. He was angry. Standing right next him is Dick Starkey, jacket and tie, notebook in hand. I am just walking by, and Starkey sees me and comes up to me. With “Hi, Jim, welcome to Chicago” he greets with a smile. He really thought that they were going to get something good out of that disaster. They didn’t. But Starkey never stopped believing that he could be a an advocate for hope.
Starkey often mentioned his work with Paul O’Dwyer. He tells the story of when Starkey said something that he thought was “off the record” to a reporter, and it ended up in print. O’Dwyer was forgiving and told Starkey that is just another lesson to be learned.
Starkey never gave up going to Church, even though he said that he didn't leave the Church, the Church left him. But he always kept going, for many years now “just to hear Father Richard’s sermons.”
And back in Saltaire, he must have played in hundreds of softball games and umpired maybe more. Maybe he missed a call or two here and there, but he always headed the league as an honest broker. That’s why we made him Commissioner. But if he missed one or two calls, all is forgiven. Lessons learned from a life of idealism and love.
See you around, Commissioner.
Requiescat in pace.