A quarterback and a gentleman

Three times in my own life legendary quarterback Bart Starr showed up in classier-than-he-needed-to-be ways and I am just one periphary person in his very big life.

In the coming days as we all mourn his loss we can soothe ourselves with hundreds of these kinds of stories about his innate generosity and commitment to kindness and charitable causes. I plan to read and listen to as many as I can.

These are mine:

As I’ve written about before, I once wrote a story about Bart Starr for a fourth grade class assignment. My mom sent it on to him and he responded promptly with a very sweet letter. Today, 46 years after he wrote it, I still have that letter and I still remember how excited I was to receive it from him.

About a decade later, I boldly contacted him to see if I could interview him for a college journalism project. I left a message for him and wondered if he’d call me back. The next day, one of my college housemates knocked on my bedroom door and said, “Umm, Laura. Bart Starr is on the phone for you.” All of us –me, my roommates and my professor — found it pretty amazing that a busy man like Mr. Starr would bother to call a college kid back to help her with a homework assignment.

Most profoundly, Bart Starr called my mom shortly after he heard that my dad, his former teammate, had died. He expressed his condolences and apologized profusely that he would not be able to attend the funeral as he had previously committed to address a Boy Scout convention. “I want to be there for you and for Ron,” he said. “But I don’t want to let those Boy Scouts down.” My mom told him not to worry about it. She understood. A short time after the funeral, Bart and his wife Cherry visited my mom privately and shared some great memories together.

I feel very privileged to have been at Lambeau with almost my entire family during a very cold and rainy halftime when Bart and Cherry showed up to honor another beloved Packer quarterback Brett Favre.

Some fans wondered if the Starrs would make their was down to the field in light of some really awful weather. But, of course they did. They’d made a commitment and weren’t the type of people to blow that off.

I will always remember their beaming faces and the standing ovation they received as they zoomed around the field on a golf cart.

In some ways legends never die and I’d like to think we’ll always feel Bart Starr’s presence in the stadium he helped make famous and among a fan base he never once disappointed.


This is the letter Bart Starr wrote to me when I was nine-years old.
My mom and the always admirable Cherry Starr. That’s Cherry’s husband Bart in the background. 🙂
Just look at those beaming smiles in the face of some really awful weather. This is how I will remember a legendary man.

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