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Bob Starkey dies at age 84

By Staff | Apr 8, 2016

Bob Starkey spent plenty of years instilling how to fight in his basketball players at Shepherd.

He spent nine months battling cancer, proving to having a fighting spirit of his own.

The longtime area sports icon lost his battle Saturday, passing away at the age of 84.

Starkey was a staple with the Shepherd men’s basketball program as the winningest coach in program history. He finished with a record of 360-205 in 20 years at the helm for the Rams. He coached the team from 1968-88 and compiled nine seasons with 20 or more wins.

Under Starkey’s tutelage, the 1975-76 team went 33-3 and became regional champions. That team recorded the most wins by a Shepherd mens’ team in school history.

Starkey also served as an assistant football coach and head baseball coach, in addition to serving as director of athletics from 1976-80.

“I’m so thankful to God for the influence Coach had in my life. He was one of the most optimistic, enthusiastic, energetic people I’ve ever met. When I hear stories about people who had negative athletic experiences in college, I thank God that my coach was such a great man, leader, mentor, encourager, friend and Christian brother. He had such a positive influence in so many lives. I’m grateful my life was one of them,” said Tim Leber, who played under Starkey.

After leaving Shepherd, Starkey coached the boys’ basketball programs at South Hagerstown, Loudoun County and Jefferson.

Starkey had the pleasure of coaching his grandson, Garrett Grantham, during his stint with the Cougars.

More recently, Starkey’s success was celebrated by the Rams in November when his name was enshrined that the Butcher Center. The Rams dedicated part of their complex to the beloved coach, creating the Robert G. Starkey Skybox and Academic Support Center.

“It’s a tremendous honor. When you get your name in lights, it’s a big deal,” he said at the ceremony prior to a Rams’ game.

A successful student-athlete himself, Starkey lettered in football, swimming and baseball.