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Obituaries » John Lawrence Starkey

John Lawrence Starkey

July 3, 1935 - December 30, 2018


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John Lawrence Starkey ushered out the old year and slipped into the new on December 30, 2018.

Born July 3, 1935, to Ruth and Percy Starkey, John was a native of Easton, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Wilson High School (Class of ’53), John went on to Penn State, earning a degree in English.

Hired by the Baldridge Reading School as a young man in his twenties, John quickly found himself transported from the snow and ice of the East to the blue skies, sparkling Pacific waters and bougainvillea draped walls of the Santa Catalina School for Girls in Monterey.

He remained in California the rest of his life-first living in San Francisco, then Berkeley for 14 years, and finally Sonoma County-his home for the past 45 years.

While in Berkeley, where son Ben was born in 1968, John obtained his M.A. in Political Science-happy to graduate, but disappointed it was the year before the Free Speech Movement. He worked as a Field Representative for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and also as a Project Coordinator for the Oakland Redevelopment Agency. Additionally, he taught Political Science at Laney College in Oakland and the College of San Mateo. An abiding love for the visual arts was fostered while partnering with his former wife, Lynn Piper, in a small gallery called the Artifactorie.

John migrated north to Sonoma County in 1973, living most of the rest of his life in Sebastopol and working as a real estate agent. He was devoted to peace and social justice; swimming at Ives Pool as long as he was able; all forms of the arts; radio, in general, and community radio, in particular, hosting a bi-monthly program, Voices and Vision, on radio station KOWS.

He was deeply loved and will be dearly missed by his partner of 33 years, Teresa Peele, son Benjamin Piper, grandchildren Besem and Zane, cousin Jeanne Young, and relatives Max Prokrivchak and Robert Okamoto.

A celebration of John’s life with his friends and family will be held at a later date. Donations in his memory can be made to the Sonoma County Peace and Justice Center, KOWS Community Radio Station, Western Sonoma County Swimmers c/o Ives Pool, or the Sonoma County YMCA.