Irwin Palmer Starr, an internationally known broadcasting and media executive and beloved figure in the Sarasota community, died on Nov. 14, 2018 from lung cancer.
| 2:23 p.m. November 27, 2018
Tributes & Obituaries
Irwin Palmer Starr
Irwin Palmer Starr, an internationally known broadcasting and media executive and beloved figure in the Sarasota community, died on Nov. 14, 2018 from lung cancer. He was 78 years old and passed away peacefully with his family at his side.
Irwin was born in Detroit, Mich., on Feb. 19, 1940 to Bruce and Florence Starr. From his earliest years, Irwin had a special fascination with and talent for magic, becoming quite accomplished as a magician and performing at many venues and events in his early years as well as at his daughter’s birthday parties.
Irwin attended University of Michigan, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts from the Literature, Sciences, and Arts School and a Master of Arts from the Rackham School of Graduate Studies. It was there he met Eileen M. Philpott, whom he married on July 1, 1961. They had one child, Kimberly A. Starr, and were married for over 20 years before divorcing.
Irwin found love again with his longtime partner Charlie (Charlotte) Valentine and shared his life with her as he managed television stations all over the United States, making a wide range of friends with whom he kept in touch. They moved to Sarasota to care for his ailing mother and found it the perfect place to retire, building a life rich with friendship and intellectual stimulation. He looked forward to and enjoyed Friday night dinners with a close-knit group of friends.
In the broadcasting industry, Irwin was known for his local television station management successes where he recast the fate of many failing stations with his style of strategic planning, goal setting, qualitative market research, station positioning and collegial team management. He was program manager and director of broadcasting for WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., for seven years; vice president and general manager of KREM-TV in Spokane, Wash., for three years; and vice president and general manager of KGW-TV in Portland, Ore., for six years. Other stations he helped with financial and audience turnarounds include KGGM-TV in Albuquerque, N.M. and WDJT-TV in Milwaukee, Wis.
“In his final conversations with friends and family he spoke of the importance of always being kind to others and balancing work with time to play and celebrate life.”
As an educator, Irwin had many accomplishments. He taught at University of Michigan after his graduation and in following years had appointments at Earlham College, George Washington University, Jacksonville University, University of Wisconsin, Marylhurst College, University of Mexico, and The College of Santa Fe. In addition, he was a guest lecturer at many colleges, universities, junior colleges and private industry events, including in Beijing, China.
On the international front, Irwin was sought after by many countries to create, reestablish, or improve communications systems. Among his assignments were assisting stations in Serbia, Slovakia, Albania, Moscow, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Croatia.
Irwin was the recipient of many awards in his career including the George Foster Peabody award, the National Association of Television Programming Executive’s IRIS Award and several national EMMY nominations.
In Sarasota, Irwin was widely recognized and acclaimed for his many talents, including as the founder, publisher, and editor of the community newspaper, The Landings Eagle, and as the managing director of the media roundtable for the past 14 years.
During his life, Irwin was brilliant and accomplished in his numerous activities and warm to his many friends, neighbors, and anyone he met. In his final conversations with friends and family he spoke of the importance of always being kind to others and balancing work with time to play and celebrate life.
Irwin was predeceased by his longtime partner Charlie Valentine; his father, Bruce Starr; his mother, Florence Starr; and his grandson, Thomas Starr Mears. He leaves behind his daughter, Kimberly A. Starr; his son-in-law, L.J. Da Corsi; his grandson, Timothy Starr Mears; and his beloved dachshund, R. Buckminster Fuller (Bucky), who will be joining his daughter and her husband in Prosser, Washington.
A celebration of life honoring Irwin is planned for Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019 from 4-7 PM at the Landings Racquet Club. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in his name to an NPR radio station or an arts or hospice organization in your community.
Wednesday, January 16, 2019 4-7PM
The Landings Racquet Club, 5350 Landings Blvd, Sarasota, FL 34231 (941) 923-3886
In lieu of flowers please consider donations in his name to an NPR radio station or an arts or hospice organization in your community.