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Dr. G. Daviss Starr Sr.

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STARR, Sr., Dr. G. Daviss Professor, civil rights activist, and literacy advocate, Dr. G. Daviss Starr, Sr. died peacefully at age ninety on June 12, 2014. Daviss was born February 12, 1924, in Cuthbert, GA, to George and Ethel Starr. His grandparents survived slavery. He served his country during World War II and Korea and was honorably discharged. After Korea, Daviss sang in the world-renowned gospel choir, "Wings over Jordan." He also worked as a passport clerk and a social worker. As a touring performer, Daviss befriended Nat "King" Cole, who later recommended the Starrs pursue opportunities in Chicago. Daviss became manager of Hugh Hefner's Playboy Penthouse. There, he met leading celebrities, politicians and entertainers of the 1960s. Inspired by his earlier work with troubled youth and encouraged by his wife, Daviss completed the bachelor's degree at Florida A&M in 1964. He became a teacher in Michigan as well as actively involved in voter mobilization and open housing advocacy - often under threat of firebombs at home. These experiences fostered deeper exploration of the roots of inequality. Daviss achieved a master's degree from Western Michigan. In 1972, he earned the Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Spurning offers from other universities, Dr. Starr began his professorial career at Florida A&M, and established adult literacy centers in rural North Florida. This work was replicated internationally, most extensively in Venezuela, where Dr. Starr advised the government. In retirement, Dr. Starr was surrounded by family, former students and persons whose lives he had influenced. He was an accomplished chef, wise counselor, talented storyteller, mentor, beloved son, brother, husband, father, and grandpa. He is survived by his wife of fifty-six years, Barbara; sons, Reginald D. Starr, Sr. and George D. Starr, Jr.; and a daughter, Gabrielle Harpole. He is also survived by eight grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and is fondly remembered by Clarence Hampton. Dr. Starr was pre-deceased by his son James Harrison Starr in 1968. His memorial celebration is July 19 at Mount Vernon Baptist in Newnan. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name may be given to: Mount Vernon First Baptist Church Building Fund C/O Mount Vernon First Baptist Church P.O. Box 2532 Newnan, Georgia 30263
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on July 18, 2014
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