Craig Alvah Starkey
August 9, 1932 - January 29, 2021
Craig Starkey passed away on January 29, 2021. Craig was born August 9, 1932 in San Diego, the youngest son of civic and financial leaders Harold Bellamy Starkey and Augusta Bispham Witherow Starkey. He was the grandson of early San Diego and La Jolla developer and financier John B. Starkey and the namesake of John's son Alvah, who died young as a consequence of the Spanish flu pandemic. Craig grew up in Chula Vista, at the time a town surrounded by lemon groves. He attended Chula Vista Elementary School and, after the explosion in the size of the school due to the war, moved to Francis Parker School. Craig spent summers in Del Mar, playing on the beach with other locals and working at the Hotel Del Mar. His family would also camp in Borrego Springs in the 1930s and 40s, before there were any paved roads in the area. He graduated from San Diego High School in 1950. Craig attended Menlo College and San Diego State University and took degrees from California Western University and American Graduate School of International Management (Thunderbird). His higher education was interrupted by service in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War and time spent living abroad and working with the United States Information Agency. Craig met Dorothy (Dori) Alderson while back in the country to complete a degree in foreign trade and he was smitten. They were married on Dori's birthday in 1960 and lived in the University Heights area. They moved to Chula Vista in 1962 and then to Rancho Santa Fe in 1971. Craig worked in finance with First Federal Savings and Loan of San Diego and its successor Coast Savings until his retirement, and continued the family operations in real estate investment along with his brothers. For many years after retirement he taught ESL and enjoyed working with businesspeople from around the world who came to San Diego to undertake immersive studies in English. Craig loved travel and adventure, both near and far. As a twenty-year-old in 1952 he accompanied San Diego artist Everett Jackson to remote areas of Guatemala, Honduras, and southern Mexico to view and illustrate Mayan ruins. Two years later he toured Europe extensively after crossing the Atlantic and docking in Southampton. His local adventures included buying a Model A Ford along with a San Diego State classmate for $15, removing the body and using it as a homemade off-road vehicle to explore the canyons of the Borrego Valley and East County in the early 50s. In 1956 he sailed on a freighter from San Diego to Brazil, stopping in the Caribbean on the way, and lived in Santos for several years. There he befriended other English-speaking expatriates, developing life-long friendships that spanned the globe and fluency in Portuguese that was central to his thesis on foreign trade at Thunderbird. Craig savored the wonderful area that he lived in. He and family would spend summer vacation time in Del Mar and spring and fall in Borrego Springs. He would also pilot a boat from San Diego to Catalina Island with the family and anchor off the island for week-long stays. Craig's trips with his children included rafting down the Snake River and sailing from San Diego to Pearl Harbor as guests aboard the USS Tarawa. When their children grew he and Dori resumed traveling abroad, revisiting favorite places in Central and South America as well as venturing to new locations around the world including China and Japan. Craig was devoted to the San Diego community and served on the boards of the San Diego Museum of Art and the San Diego Chamber Orchestra among other organizations, was a long time supporter of the Zoological Society and Children's Hospital, and was active in community fundraising through the Combined Arts and Education Council of San Diego County (COMBO). While living in Chula Vista he served as President of the Downtown Merchants Association and played an important role in early downtown redevelopment. He was an enthusiastic alumnus of his alma maters, particularly the San Diego chapter of Thunderbird Alumni Association and was recognized as Thunderbird's Alumni of the Year in 1977. He also served on the Vestry of St. Peter's Church in Del Mar. Craig is remembered by those who knew him for his generosity, humor, kindness and devotion, and those he supervised praised him as a manager. Craig was both sentimental and a lifetime learner who enjoyed venturing out in the world to experience it directly. His love of history and travel was surpassed only by his devotion to his family and community. He was an avid supporter of the arts at both the community and personal level. Always one to support friends' endeavors, Craig was a backer of John DeBello's film Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, a quirky spoof of B movies. He encouraged his wife and children to live their lives on their own terms, seek what they love, and follow their own passions as he had during his youth. He is survived by his children Scott (Carrie) Starkey, Charles (Nicole) Starkey, and Kirsten Starkey (Todd) Telander, and grandchildren Miles Telander, Oliver Telander, Madeline Starkey, Abigail Starkey, and Emma Louise Starkey. He was preceded in death by Dori, his wife of 60 years who passed two days prior, his parents, and his brothers Harold (Skip) Jr., John (Jack), and Hubert. A memorial gathering will be planned at a future time.
Published in San Diego Union-Tribune on Mar. 21, 2021.