MARTHA STARR (1928 - 2018)

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Service Information
Stretch Funeral Home
236 E Eagle Rd
Havertown, PA

STARR MARTHA HOUGHTON STARR Known as Marty to friends and Gammer to family died on October 19, 2018 at age 89 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She passed peacefully of natural causes--surrounded, as she was for most of her life, by family and music. Marty was born on December 14, 1928, to William Maxwell Houghton and Elizabeth Richards Houghton. In her early years in Boston, she developed a love for music from her grandmother and for heated debate from her father, both of which continued to the end of her life. Her father's engineering career at the height of the Depression demanded that the family move so that, by age eight, Marty had attended seven different schools. She landed at Vassar College, where she studied botany. On leaving Vassar, she channeled her love of gardening into a career as a plant propagator. In August 1954, Marty married Ralph Starr, a businessman in the specialty foods business. Together, in the suburbs of Philadelphia, they raised five children: Peter, Nan, Ellen, Will, and Emmy. One of her favorite places was the family's camp on Upper Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks. An avid hiker - famous for drilling holes in her toothbrush and clipping tea bags to lighten her backpack - Marty climbed most of the 46 Adirondack mountains that rise above four thousand feet. As her children grew, Marty cultivated an interest in social justice. She helped build pocket parks in North Philadelphia and, in the 1970s, traveled to Washington for antiwar and women's rights marches. In 1978, Marty met Elizabeth Hill, the mother of her future daughter-in-law and a kindred soul with deep intellectual curiosity, an interest in feminist politics, and a love for debate. Together, they created a series of literary calendars, published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, and eventually founded Starr-Hill Press, a successful publisher of small books with an academic bent. After her marriage with Ralph ended, Marty shared a home with Liz for nearly 25 years, first in Washington, DC, then in Haverford, PA. Marty is predeceased by her ex-husband Ralph and her partner Liz. She is survived by her sisters, Audie Duane and Janie Stephenson; her children and their spouses; and 12 grandchildren. Marty will be deeply missed by everyone who loved her, including all of Liz's children and their families, as well as her devoted caregivers. Marty was a quiet trailblazer. Though born into a society that limited a woman's ambitions, she stood up for what she believed in and found happiness by living her life fully and unapologetically. Her story continues to inspire those who hear it to do the same. Service scheduled for a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Marty's memory may be made to Nature Conservancy ( scheduled for a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Marty's memory may be made to Nature Conservancy (
Published in The Washington Post on Nov. 4, 2018
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