Cover photo for Kenneth  Clinton Starbuck's Obituary
Kenneth  Clinton Starbuck Profile Photo
1931 Kenneth 2017

Kenneth Clinton Starbuck

March 4, 1931 — April 3, 2017

Kenneth C. Starbuck died April 3, 2017 in Herrin Hospital.

He died when the earth was in full bloom;

He died during Lent;

He died during the Passover season;

He died during the Carbondale Celebration of Eleven Days of Compassion.

He was born March 4 of 1931 In Lincoln, Kansas. His parents were Harold and Marie (Colden) Starbuck. He was the youngest of four children. The oldest was Dorothy Jane, followed by Kathleen June, and, third, Robert Paul.

When Ken was a little boy, he absorbed and grew to love music. His mother sang, and his oldest sister was an accomplished pianist. When he was two, he lay on the floor and listened to Dorothy practice.

Ken's father was postmaster and later a merchant. Ken caught the political bug from his father, and when he was nine, he nailed, on telephone poles, posters promoting Wendell Wilkie for president. Of course, Roosevelt won, but as Ken grew older, he read Wilkie's book One World and knew he was on to something important.

His teenage years were filled with Boy Scouts, De Molay, and photography. He was the official photographer for the high school yearbook in Leavenworth, Kansas. After high school, he enlisted in the Air Force in Dennison, Texas.

After his one-year stint in the Air Force, he enrolled in college at Baker University, a small Methodist college. One of his first courses was Philosophy of Life. In this class he studied many of the great philosophers; his life was enriched with a zeal that literally drove him to the end of his life.

At Baker he met Kathryn Funston. They were married on June 23, 1952, by Ken's uncle, the Rev. Martin Starbuck, in Salina. KS. They spent sixty-five years together following their mutual dreams and aspirations.

Ken served Methodist churches in Kansas as a student minister. He served small churches in Kickapoo and Bethel near Leavenworth. After his marriage to Kathy, he was assigned to a yoked ministry in Nortonville and Cummings, KS. In July, 1953, his first daughter, Ruth Ann was born.

After graduation from Baker, he received a call to the Table Grove Community Church in Table Grove, IL. While there, Ken traveled between the church and Chicago so that he could attend Chicago Theological Seminary, a Congregational Seminary. He studied under Paul Tillich, Victor Obenhaus, Marcus Barth, Jack Hayward, and Jaroslav Pelikan. It was a rich time for the entire family as they absorbed some of the riches that Chicago offered. One of the blessings of these years was the birth of Sara June in March, 1955.

After graduation from seminary, Ken accepted a call from Union Church in La Harpe, Illinois. His first major event there occurred in October with the birth of their son, Marcus Edward, thus postponing his dad's ordination. Ken was ordained to the Christian ministry of the Congregational Church on November 9, 1958. These were happy years, culminating in July, 1961, with the birth of three sons, Kenneth Soren, now Kevin Soren Starbuck, Karl Martin Starbuck, and Fredrik Paul, now Fr. Cedric Christian Starbuck.

Ken later received a call to the First Congregational Church in Beardstown, Illinois. They packed up six children (including triplets who were three weeks old), a dog, and their other belongings and moved into a house in Beardstown that really was big enough for all of them.

Ken's prophetic ministry pleased some and was difficult for others as he talked about subjects such as social justice and racial injustice. The last straw may have been inviting a black minister from Chicago to speak. The family really felt a pressure to move, but what church would welcome a liberal minister with six children?

In 1966 Ken opted to go into chaplaincy training at Anna State Hospital, which led to his being head of a treatment program in one of the units. From there, he moved to Herrin, Illinois, and Franklin-Williamson Mental Health Service where he served as a psychological therapist and head of the Adult Outpatient Program. He loved his work there and loved the people who worked there. One of his last joys when he was in the hospital, was meeting hospital employees who were from communities he had served.

He became a devoted member of the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship in 1983; Ken preached there from time to time.

After his retirement in 1993, Ken became president of the River to River Running Club and also edited the organization's newsletter. He loved running. He and Joe Bozart were instrumental in starting the ten-mile Tunnel Hill Trail run between Tunnel Hill and Vienna. The Trail is a highly rated run which attracts runners from all over the country.

Ken also worked with the Interfaith Community in Carbondale. He was chairman of the Ralph Anderson Interfaith Dialogues and was passionate about his work in contact with the members of many faiths and traditions.

Ken is survived by his wife, Kathryn, daughters Ruth Trygstad and Sara Starbuck, sons Marcus Starbuck, Kevin Starbuck, Karl Starbuck, and Fr. Cedrik Starbuck and grandchildren, McCartney Cox, Nels Trygstad, Alex Trygstad, Lars Trygstad, Angela Butler, and Ivan Starbuck, and six great-grandchildren.

On May 6, at 2:00 PM, an Interfaith Celebration of Ken Starbuck's life will take place at the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship, 105 North Parrish Lane. All who wish to share in this Celebration are invited.

In lieu of flowers, we ask that memorials be sent to Crittergal Rescue, PO Box 67, Carterville, IL 62918 or to the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship.

To order memorial trees in memory of Kenneth Clinton Starbuck, please visit our tree store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship

105 North Parrish Lane, Carbondale, IL 62901

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