Bryan Bartlett “Bart” Starr of Birmingham passed away, surrounded by his family and close friends, on Sunday, May 26, 2019. He is survived by his loving and supportive wife of 65 years Cherry, his son Bart Starr, Jr., three granddaughters (Shannon, Jenny, and Lisa) and three great grandchildren (Bryan, Teddy, and Violet). He was preceded in death by his parents Benjamin Bryan Starr and Lula Tucker Starr, his brother Hilton, and his son Bret.
Bart was honored to attend and play football at Sidney Lanier High School in Montgomery, and at the University of Alabama. During the next 16 years, he was blessed to be a quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. He always stressed to his family, friends, and fans that he received far too much credit for the five NFL championships the Packers achieved under Coach Vince Lombardi. He knew that without the unselfishness, focus, and determination of every member of the team, including the coaching staff and the organization, none of that success would have been possible. His respect for his teammates was profound and enduring. One, Zeke Bratkowski, became as close as a brother.
During his time with the Packers, Bart fell in love with the residents of Green Bay and the entire state of Wisconsin. Because he came from such humble beginnings, Bart had the greatest respect for the work ethic, generosity, and true sense of family values that permeate Wisconsin. After praying with Cherry about their desire to give back to the community they so cherished, he met John Gillespie. John asked Bart to help build Rawhide, a ranch for at-risk teenage boys who needed spiritual support. In his office, Bart displayed a photograph of a group of young men who were working their way through Rawhide with the guidance of God and their counselors. Nothing could exceed the joy he received when, decades later, he met the men who were once residents at Rawhide and had become wonderful fathers and role models.
Upon his return to Alabama in the early 1990s, he found immense meaning in supporting the missions of Children’s of Alabama and Cornerstone Schools for underserved students. He and Cherry also became deeply involved with the Humane Society of Birmingham. Each of these charitable causes filled Bart’s soul with inspiration and gratitude, for they reflected the selfless qualities he witnessed daily by the residents of Alabama.
Following the serious strokes he suffered in September 2014, his daily challenges provided yet another occasion for thankfulness; he recognized that the opportunity to again see his beloved friends in Green Bay would be well worth the extraordinary effort required to make those trips happen.
As he left this world, he did so in peace, having never lost his faith, and having always trusted in the goodness of humanity.
A Birmingham service, “Celebrating the Legacy of Bart Starr,” will take place from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday, June 9, at the Wright Center, Samford University. The Starr family is making arrangements for an additional celebration in Green Bay, with details to be finalized as soon as possible. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of your choosing, or to the Bart and Cherry Starr Foundation, which supports the causes noted herein.
Donations are being accepted by the Bart & Cherry Starr Foundation, 2647 Rocky Ridge Lane, Birmingham, AL 35216.