Bart Starr, the earnest and determined leader of the great Green Bay Packers teams of the 1960s who became one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in history — the in-the-huddle incarnation of their fierce and masterly coach, Vince Lombardi — died on Sunday March 26 2019 in Birmingham, Ala. He was 85.
His death was announced by the Packers. He had been in poor health since suffering a stroke in 2014.
Starr was drafted in the 17th round in 1956 after barely playing his senior year at Alabama, and he may not have been the most talented player on the Packers during their glory years. Many teammates from that era — including Hornung, Taylor, Willie Davis, Forrest Gregg, Jerry Kramer and Ray Nitschke — are in the Hall of Fame. With Lombardi writing the script, Starr directed the offense, calling the plays.
Bryan Bartlett Starr was born on Jan. 9, 1934, in Birmingham, the eldest of two sons of Ben Starr and Lulu (Tucker) Starr. Ben Starr believed that Bart’s brother, Hilton, who was two years younger and known as Bubba, had more athletic potential, and he often said so to Bart. When Hilton was 11, he cut his foot on a dog bone while walking barefoot. Three days later he died of a tetanus infection.
He nearly chose to attend the University of Kentucky, where the celebrated Bear Bryant was coaching at the time. Instead, to be close to his girlfriend, Cherry Louise Morton, he accepted an offer from Alabama. Starr married Ms. Morton in 1954, after his sophomore year.
Starr became the starter as a sophomore and led the Crimson Tide to the Cotton Bowl. But he missed nearly all of his junior season with a back injury, and as a senior was demoted to a backup role under a new coach. Starr floundered in his early years in Green Bay. Then Lombardi arrived. After a few stops and starts, Starr became the starter for good in 1960.
In 1965 he helped found the Rawhide Boys Ranch, a faith-based nonprofit residential care center for at-risk youth.
Survivors include his wife, Cherry; a son, Bart Jr., and several grandchildren.
A second son, Bret, died of cardiac arrest after taking cocaine in 1988. His death prompted the family to move to Birmingham to be closer to Bart Jr.
In Birmingham, Starr owned car dealerships, built hospitals and was a pitchman for Ford and other companies.more » « less