Friday, August 9, 2013

[news] Death of Helen Starke

                                    Death of Helen Starke

Helen Starke died in the early hours of today.  She was 97 years old and the oldest member of Old South Haven Presbyterian Church.  Helen became a member of the Church on March 2, 1964.  She was ordained a Deacon in 1967 and an Elder in 1982.

Helen was the Long Island Advance’s Woman of the Year in 2006.  In making that designation the paper said “In her day she shattered a glass ceiling”.  She graduated from Adelphi in 1938 with a degree in chemistry.  Her first job was with General Electric where she worked in the lamp research department.  There she was busy discovering ways to improve phosphorous for GE’s fluorescent lighting.  In 1941 she married Robert Starke.  She left GE and traveled with her husband to his job in South Africa.

In 1943 Helen was working at Columbia University in their Division of War Research.  She was not aware that the project she worked on was the Manhattan Project, the first effort of the United States to develop nuclear weapons.  She left that job when she became pregnant with her first child.  Over the next eleven years Helen and Bob had five children and began a life of community service: elected to the Brookhaven Common School Board in 1949 and then the South Country School District Board ; then named as a member of the original board of trustees of Suffolk Community College; a member of the advisory committee to raise funds to build a hospital in East Patchogue (what is now Brookhaven Hospital); and volunteer work at the St. Joseph the Worker Soup Kitchen.


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