John Starkey dies; longtime Star shooter

Dateline: Mon 21 Dec 2009

Here is the story from Scott Thien, off the Indianapolis Star's Community Star Network website (whatever that is). Thanks to the reader who passed it along:

"A longtime photographer for the defunct Indianapolis Star Sunday Magazine who shadowed Sen. Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign in Indiana has died of cancer.

John H. Starkey, who turned 67 on Friday and lived in Indianapolis, died late this morning, friends and former co-workers say.


Starkey started his newspaper career as a copy messenger in 1960, the same year he graduated from Cathedral High School. He eventually got on as a Star staff photographer and quickly established a reputation as the “go-to-guy” for special events, former colleagues say.

In 1968, The Star selected Starkey to follow Kennedy during his presidential campaign around the state. He captured key civic moments, including local reaction to Martin Luther King’s assassination and the signing of UNIGOV’s government consolidation law by then Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar and Indiana Gov. Ed Whitcomb.

A self-taught photographer, Starkey was an avid race fan, too, covering the Indianapolis 500 and races in Monoco.

“(John) was a true professional. He was a quiet guy. He didn’t make a lot of waves, but you could count on him,” said former Star managing editor Lawrence “Bo” Connor, who retired in 1990.

Starkey served in the Indiana National Guard, working an Army photographer during the Vietnam War era.

Starkey’s last major assignment at the paper was as chief photographer of the Star Sunday Magazine, a tabloid similar to the “USA Weekend” and “Parade” inserts found in most U.S. newspapers. The 24-page weekly section focused on Hoosier topics and people, which later added national writers to broaden its appeal.

“He did a lot of planning for the magazine, and he was very dedicated to it,” said Fred Cavinder, Starkey’s former boss at the magazine. “He took all the covers, and arranged the photo features inside. He didn’t share a lot about himself, unless it was germane to the job.”

The magazine folded in 1985, and Starkey, who won numerous local and state photography awards, left the newspaper that same year to pursue other photography interests.

“(Starkey) came up through the school of hard knocks, but he was very sympathetic to younger photographers just getting started,” said Star staff photographer Frank Espich, who began working at the newspaper in 1983. “John was kind of a hip guy, and younger guys would seek him out. John was an extraordinarily good teacher. He was one of those unsung heros at The Star.”

Originally from Chicago, Starkey is survived by a brother; and two stepchildren and a daughter, Lauren, from his second marriage.

Funeral service information was not immediately available."


Star Geezer [unverified] said:

IMHO, this feature is just plain weird, given that John Starkey quit The Star more than 20 years ago.

2009-12-21 10:34:21

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