A Tribute to David Starr

Dear Friends of CFWM,

Last week we were all deeply saddened with the passing of David Starr. David was a founding member and Charter Trustee of our Foundation, as well as staunch champion of the Springfield community for over 40 years. As you can read here, the path David forged in his life—and the legacy he leaves behind—are nothing short of extraordinary. His focused devotion profoundly benefitted the many people, organizations, and causes he supported.

David’s early vision of the vital role that CFWM would play in our region was central to establishing our organization. Before 1990, the community foundation model was essentially unknown in Western Massachusetts. David, along with fellow Charter Trustee John Gallup, promoted donor advised funds (DAFs) to local philanthropists, emphasizing their authentic local connection, and unique ability to support our region for the long term. They invested many hours in deep discussions with area nonprofits, creating trust and building excitement around this new funding model for the region. In 1990, he and John signed the original trust to establish the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. Our Foundation would not exist if it were not for David and John’s perseverance and tireless work to build it from the ground up.

David served on our first Distribution Committee for nine years and chaired the Marketing Committee for many more. During his years of active service to CFWM, David demonstrated, year in and year out, that even with a demanding career, making time for the community was an obligation he took very seriously. At our 2008 Annual Meeting, we honored him and his beloved wife, Peggy, for their remarkable generosity and volunteerism. David’s words from that evening simply and beautifully capture his and Peggy’s spirit of philanthropy, values woven into our core here at CFWM:

“Peggy and I are just examples of all the good people who give to the causes of their choice. We’re not ashamed to say that we’re do-gooders. We think everybody should be do-gooders. But do-good is not just a way to feel-good. We believe that it’s an obligation of those who have, to give to those who need. It’s our obligation to give back to the community in which we have prospered. It’s not just about money. It’s giving time and energy too, going to meetings, stuffing envelopes, speaking up. It’s volunteering for work. Peggy and I chose this Community Foundation as the conduit for our giving because it’s better equipped than any other organization to know the community’s needs and the best ways to meet them… We don’t do it by reading applications. We go out into the field. In my day, I’ve checked rotting windows and leaky roofs and day-care centers for cute little kids. I know how carefully, how tenderly every request for money is treated.  Organizations come and organizations go, but the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts will be here forever. That’s why Peggy and I are so certain that the Community Foundation is the best care-taker of whatever money we’re lucky enough to give away.”

David and Peggy celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary last August, and David would have turned 97 next month. We know you join us in sympathy and share condolences with David’s children, grandchildren, the Newhouse family, the entire staff at The Republican and all the many organizations he championed. We are very sad, but also enormously grateful for the legacy that will endure because of David’s unusual dedication, generosity of spirit, and outstanding service.

With kind regards from all of us at CFWM,

Katie Allan Zobel

Memorial donations to support David and Peggy’s funds at CFWM may be directed to Jenny Papageorge, Director of Development, at jpapageorge@communityfoundation.org.