Distinguished U professor dies from leukemia at 71

Amy Olson

University professor Clark Starr died just four days after he was presented with a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to speech, language and hearing.
Starr, who was the first chairman of the Department of Communication Disorders and director of the Speech and Hearing Clinic, died of leukemia on March 23. He was 71.
Starr’s work and research stretched across colleges. His academic appointment was in the College of Liberal Arts, but he was one of the founders of the Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Clinic in the School of Dentistry, said Karlind Moller, director of the clinic.
Members of the Minnesota Speech-Language-Hearing Association originally intended to present Starr with its Lifetime Outstanding Achievement Award in April, said Moller. When Starr’s health took a turn for the worse, Moller said the organization decided to present the award early.
Starr was a fellow in the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and a past president of the Minnesota chapter.
Moller said Starr, a member of the Campus Club, amazed him with the number of people he knew from all over the University.
Starr’s interest in voice and cleft palate disorders was lifelong. He worked with the clinic for more than 40 years and believed in using a multi-disciplinary approach to treating patients with the disorder from infancy to adulthood, Moller said.
Starr earned his bachelor’s degree from Hamline University. He began working at the University as a speech pathologist in 1954, and in 1956 he earned his doctorate in communication disorders from Northwestern University.
Starr retired from the University in 1997 after teaching for 43 years. He was director of the Speech and Hearing Clinic for seven years and was a founder of the Department of Communication Disorders.
Moller, who began his career as one of Starr’s students, said Starr was an excellent teacher who taught by example, believed in his students and challenged them not to take knowledge for granted.
“He would say, ‘Now, on what data are you basing that opinion,'” said his wife Jane.
Jane Starr said her husband enjoyed being outdoors, and walked to the University from their home in Prospect Park each day. He even cross-country skied to work one day when classes were cancelled, and he went sailing each fall with his friend and former college roommate, political science professor Robert Holt.
Starr used his research skills long after retirement. Jane Starr said her husband began tracing his genealogy back to the early 1600s; one relative was a founder of Harvard University, while another owned the property that Yale University was built on.
“It’s a better place because he walked here,” Moller said.
Starr is survived by Jane, his wife of 49 years; daughter Carey; sons Jonathan, Timothy and Clark Jr.; brother James; and six grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. on April 12 in the Campus Club at Coffman Union.