On June 19, 2014 Pat Starr succumbed to lung cancer at age 79, at her home surrounded by her loving family. Patricia Rae Starr was born February 28, 1935, in Hood River, OR to parents Gladys and Clarence Starr. She grew up on a farm in Parkdale on the north side of Mt. Hood, along with her three sisters, her mother and her stepfather, Earl Peugh. She is survived by her spouse and partner of 34 years, Lorraine McIntyre, her sisters Oleta Jones (David Jones), and sister, Marleta Roth (Van Dyke Roth), both of the San Francisco Bay Area and her nieces and nephews scattered across the country. Her sister, Anita Wright (Norman Wright), from Coos Bay, preceded her in death.
Pat loved life on the farm, including the freedom to explore the outdoors as well as the responsibility for lots of chores. She developed a lifelong enjoyment of hard work, hiking, physical fitness, and the natural world. In her lifetime she would become a mountain climber, hiker, cross-country skier, birder and award-winning photographer.
She attended grade school through her junior year of high school at Parkdale High and went on to graduate from Wy’East High in Odell. She was active in sports, band, and joined the Civil Air Patrol, where she learned to identify planes from the ground. During her summers, she spent happy times in Albany with her dad and stepmom, Marguerite, who owned the popular Owl Café there.
Pat attended college at Oregon State University, starting as a physical educator but discovered a growing interest in science. Her BS was in General Science. She interrupted her education to work at several jobs, including for Dr. Albert Starr (no relation) as his surgical technician as he developed the artificial heart valve. Pat earned her MS degree at OSU in Microbiology with Dr. Leo Parks. She was privileged to be part of a NATO sponsored trip to Norway where she got to be with Nobel Prize winners and other international students to share information about molecular biology. She went on to earn her PhD in Microbial Physiology at OHSU in 1969.
Pat became a college educator. She taught as an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana in the department of Microbiology from 1971 to 1975. She developed a new science lab class, acquired the nickname PR and worked with two MS students but eventually realized she missed the Northwest and Mt. Hood too much to stay away. She returned to Portland to do research at Providence Medical Center with Dr. Gilbert in the Infectious Disease Research lab. She later moved on to teach Microbiology and Biological Sciences at Mt. Hood Community College and for two years served as head of the Science Division. In her 17 years there she taught many future health professionals, won a best teacher award and made many friends. At age 58 Pat decided to retire early so she could pursue her great love of photography, nature and the outdoors. Often she could be spotted creeping into a beautiful stand of flowers with her macro lens to capture the perfect shot of the smallest parts of a flower – always a microbiologist, even with a camera.
PR felt lucky to be healthy and active most of her life. She played piano and accordion and devoted much love and attention to her dogs. Pat and Lorraine were inseparable through the years. Pat loved to take birding trips with Lorraine (and her camera), enjoyed road trips through the U.S. with her sisters and her dear friend Jan Harris, and trips to Europe always with a camera in her hand.
After retirement Pat joined the Portland Photographic Society, which soon became a focus of her life. She made many new friends as she continually worked to improve her prints, slides and digital images. Eventually she joined several other photographic organizations becoming a founding member of the Nature Photographers of the Pacific Northwest. She served as a photo judge at the Oregon State Fair and several other competitions, participated in group shows and was proud to have a solo show of her work at the First Unitarian Church in Portland.
Pat was proud of reaching the summit of Mt. Hood three times, Mt. St Helens twice(before it erupted), and several other peaks in the Cascades. She was a scientist, an educator, an environmentalist and a fiercely dedicated and loving spouse, daughter, sister and aunt.
In lieu of flowers, Pat would have liked donations to go to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge or The Nature Conservancy.
Here are some images from Pat’s gallery on the PPS web page.