RAVENSWOOD - By January of 1918, Dr. Paul Starkey and his wife, Ethel (Dunham) Starkey were respected residents of Jackson County.
“Doc” Starkey had begun delivering just a few of the hundreds of babies he would eventually bring into the world, and on January 17, 1918, his fourth child, Bonnie Freida Starkey, became the newest resident of Jackson County.
Tragedy struck the family when Ethel Starkey died shortly after baby Freida’s first birthday. Ethel’s sister, Mabel Dunham, moved into the Starkey residence to raise her sister’s four children, Lois Starkey (Manning), Virginia Starkey (Smith), Karl Starkey and Freida Starkey. Despite the hardship of losing his wife, Doc Starkey eventually built a hospital on Sand Street and cared for the residents of Jackson County for many years, passing in 1976.
“Miss Starkey” as she liked to be called during her teaching years at Marshall University, was blessed to have a father who valued education above all. Her sisters Lois and Virginia earned their college degrees and taught school, setting the example for their younger sister.
Miss Starkey is credited by many who knew her with a brilliant intellect - in spite of the conventions of her time Freida was vastly ahead of her time. Miss Starkey attended Alderson-Broaddus College from 1935 to 1937, transferring to Denison University from 1937 to 1939, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English and minor in Education. She then earned her Master of Arts degree in English, with a minor in speech, from West Virginia University.
Not content with a single Master’s Degree, Miss Starkey attended the University of Pittsburgh from 1962 to 1966, earning a Master of Arts in Library Science. During her years at Pitt, she complied a scholarly report under the direction of Dr. J. Dailey, the stated purpose of which was to aid and assist librarians in processing foreign language periodicals in college libraries. The project probably benefited greatly from Miss Starkey’s study of Spanish at the University of Madrid in 1958.
Miss Starkey taught English at Marshall University from 1946 to 1963. During these years, she also served on the Social Committee for the English Department, the Faculty Service Committee and started an English Clinic.
Miss Starkey lived her later years in Ravenswood, West Virginia. Par of this time, she lived in the house that Dr. Starkey had built for Aunt Mabel Dunham to live in when Dr. Starkey remarried; the house was originally located on what is now Cope’s parking lot, but was later moved. Miss Starkey then lived in an apartment building on Sycamore Street until she moved to Ravenswood Care Center in August 2000.
Sadly, few members of the Starkey family remain. Miss Starkey was preceded in death by her brothers and sisters. Her surviving family members reside primarily in Ravenswood – nephew Ron Starkey and his wife Amy, Great niece Rhonda Hall and husband Michael Hall and children Nathan and Libby Hall, great-niece Melissa Manning of Kansas.
Bonnie Freida Starkey left this life as she lived it – quietly, without fanfare. She will be missed by her late-in-life friends at the Ravenswood Care Center, who appreciated her blue eyes and her gentle smile. During her 97-years, she watched the world around her take amazing strides – from the horse and buggy to the automobile to the moon. Many who saw her walking miles during her late-in-life travels around Ravenswood will remember her colorful eccentricities, but others who know her whole story will remember her as a woman ahead of her time.