Dr. Robert A. Starr, 91, of Viroqua, passed away peacefully on Friday, March 16, 2018, at the Bland Bekkedal Center for Hospice Care in Viroqua. He was born on November 9, 1926, to Kenneth and Eleanor (Gillingham) Starr in Richland Center, Wisconsin. He was the oldest of three children. He loved growing up in this small, Richland County city and he graduated from Richland Center High School in 1944. He met the love of his life, Janet McCollum, in high school and they were married in Richland Cent er in 1947.
Bob and Janet both attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison and graduated from the UW in 1948. Bob went on to attend the UW Medical School, graduating in 1950. After graduating from medical school, the Starr’s moved to Kansas City, Kansas where Dr. Starr interned at the University of Kansas Medical Center until 1951. He was in the United States Naval Reserve and served on active duty as a physician aboard the USS Marine Phoenix during the Korean War.
In 1951, Bob and Janet settled in Viroqua, Wisconsin and Bob joined Drs. Raymond Hirsch and Harold Oppert, forming the Hirsch Clinic. After returning from Korea, Robert practiced family medicine in Viroqua from 1954 until his retirement in 1996. He was especially proud of helping to deliver 3,253 babies during those years. He was honored to be named the Wisconsin Family Physician of the Year in 1990. Dr. Starr was a member of the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Practice, the Wisconsin Medical Alumni Association and he served as Vernon County Coroner for fourteen years. He was a teacher and mentor to medical and physician assistant students, helping to train the next generation of health care providers.
Bob and Janet were members of the Viroqua United Methodist Church, where Bob enjoyed singing in the church choir for many years. He joked that he “made up in volume for what he lacked in talent.” Bob was very active in the Viroqua community and was involved in the building of the Community Arena, the restoration of the Temple Theatre, building the new Vernon County Humane Society shelter, and restoring the Viroqua Area Schools track and football field. In 2010, the Starr Humane Achievement Award was created by the Vernon County Humane Society to honor those who give dedicated, humane services to homeless companion animals. He was also a founding member of the Viroqua Area Foundation. Bob and Janet loved Viroqua as their hometown and Bob strived to leave things a little better for having been there.
“Doc” loved life and he lived it with great enthusiasm. He loved the practice of medicine, blending art and science in the treatment of his fellow human beings. He loved to play golf at Viroqua Hills and he begat several generations of players. He loved to play in scrambles and had a knack for making ridiculously long putts. He loved to go fishing at DeSoto Bay on the Mississippi and on Spooner Lake. He loved to hike on his farmland on Pleasant Ridge and he loved to raise a garden, “scratching Mother Earth’s back” as he raked the soil. He loved cheering for the Viroqua Blackhawks, the Wisconsin Badgers, and the Green Bay Packers. He loved to help things grow, whether it was roses in his garden, trees at the golf course, or his children and grandchildren. He swam at the Bigley pool, ice skated at the Community Arena, rode his horses in parades, and danced at the Driftless Music Festival. He had a song for every occasion. He loved the pursuit of knowledge and truth and he searched for the answers to life’s questions his entire life. And, most of all, he loved his family and was a wonderful provider for five generations of Starr’s.
Robert is survived by his wife and partner of 70 years, Janet; his children, Shelley (Tom) Dobbe of Viroqua, Craig (Kay) Starr of Viroqua, and Mark (Susie) Starr of Prairie du Sac; his grandchildren, Troy Dobbe and Jennifer Dobbe (Austin) Heath, Corey (Katie) Starr, Scott Starr, Ashley (Nick) Veglahn, Charles Starr, and Connor Starr; and great-grandchildren, Landen and Blake Starr, and Riley Veglahn. He is also survived by his brother, Dr. Charles Starr of Gearhart, Oregon and his sister, Helen SaLoutos of Baraboo, WI.
Memorial services will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 24th, 2018 at the Viroqua United Methodist Church with Pastor Jean Waldron officiating. Burial will take place at the Viroqua Cemetery. Military honors will be presented by Jacobson-Olson American Legion Post No. 138, Running-Johnson-Ray VFW Post No. 3032, and the U.S. Navy Honors Team. Family and friends may call from 4-7 p.m. at the Thorson Funeral Home on Friday night. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to The Viroqua Area Foundation, the Viroqua High School Athletic Department, the Viroqua United Methodist Church, the Vernon County Humane Society, the Vernon County Historical Society, or the Temple Theatre. The family would like to thank the staff at Vernon Memorial Healthcare and the Bland Bekkedal Center for Hospice Care for their kind and loving care during his brief illness. As a lifelong caregiver, Bob very much appreciated their tender ministrations. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.thorsonfuneralhome.com.
The Thorson Funeral Home of Viroqua is proudly serving the family.