In Memory: Marilyn Starr

Bethel Dean of Women Emerita died October 31.

By Michelle Westlund ’83, senior content specialist

November 20, 2018 | 3:30 p.m.

Marilyn Starr

Marilyn Starr served as Bethel’s dean of women from 1967 to 1983.

Marilyn Starr, Bethel dean of women emerita, died October 31 in Isanti, Minnesota. She was 89 years old. Starr served at Bethel from 1967 until her retirement in 1983, supporting and mentoring hundreds of students during her tenure. “Marilyn’s legacy is part of the lasting fabric of Bethel,” says Sande Traudt, associate professor of social work.

Starr earned a degree in physical education from St. Cloud State University, in St. Cloud, Minnesota, then taught physical education—first to high school students and then at Bethel. She went on to earn a master’s degree in counseling and moved to the position of dean of women at Bethel in 1967, serving in that role until her retirement in 1983. After retiring, Starr remained active in Baptist General Conference (now Converge) activities, helping to create a program for retirees called BGC Gold and coordinating numerous events and trips worldwide.

A lifelong lover of nature and the outdoors, Starr was an avid downhill skier, frequently skiing in Colorado and several times in the Swiss Alps. She loved sailing, hiking, canoeing, and photography, and also enjoyed many years of water skiing, boating, and fishing in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, at a cabin she owned with good friend Margaret Hill.

At Bethel, Starr was a compassionate mentor to many students over the years, using her influence to give a voice to women and others who were marginalized. Vice President of Student Life Emerita Judy Moseman remembers Starr as “everyone’s mentor and friend. Her investment in me as a student and her support of me as a colleague were great gifts,” Moseman says.

Starr was a joyful nonconformist, continues Moseman. “The last time she preached in Chapel, she wore sweats,” Moseman recounts. “Comfort and comedy reigned over conformity! Marilyn truly enjoyed her life and was wonderfully generous and joyful.”

A celebration of Starr’s life was held November 5 in Cambridge, Minnesota.