The Wisdom of Ollie Starr

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By, Macy Goodnight; local legend Ollie Starr, of Claremore, was inducted into the Hall of Fame for a lifetime of achievement striving to improve the world around her. Ollie is the third Cherokee woman inducted since its conception.

November 2019: The Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame was established in 1982 to honor women of the state who have significantly contributed to our state, the nation or the world; to recognize women distinguished for working for the benefit of the lives of others through professional leadership, civic involvement or volunteer community efforts.

Of her list of many accomplishments, she was notably instrumental in the revitalization of the Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club. Established in 1899, the organization is the oldest continually operational club in Oklahoma. They are historically and continuously charged with the preservation of Cherokee culture and history, as well as service to the community.

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2019 Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame Inductees (L-R) The Honorable Noma Gurich, Ms. Ollie Starr, Ms. Andrea Holmes Volturo (accepting in memory of Helen Freudenberger Holmes, Maj (USA, Ret) and Ms. Judy Love.

Ollie’s achievements as an active member and previous club president include procurements of grants for scholarships for higher education for young women and her endeavor to improve the living conditions of Senior Cherokee citizens. She has been a mentor for countless young men and women and has always exhibited extraordinary leadership and dedication to Cherokee communities.

In 2017, Ollie was awarded the Cherokee Nation Lifetime Achievement Award. She works diligently with the Boys and Girls Club in Chelsea to raise funds, which have assisted in upgrades to the gymnasium and kitchen, and creation of continuing arts programs. Her passion for community service is part of her “can-do” spirit that has been apart of her entire life.

Ollie was born in 1941, during WWII. “This was a time when women were becoming empowered because they went to work while the men were at war,” she said. “This was the first time that women started to become more independent.” At a very early age, she began working around the farm with her father, learning the cattle trade, and gaining respect for hard work and grit. Her mother was her teacher, and she ensured Ollie received a good education.

At the age of 16, she married and was a mother of four by the age of 25. After her children were grown, she got divorced and later met Mr. Starr in Hollywood, Florida. She has lived and worked in many areas, but always working for the betterment of the world around her. Ollie describes each phase of her life as “seasons,” and with each new chapter, she was always actively concerned with the well-being of others. “We should all try to serve others and try to make this a better world,” she said. “I really believe in encouraging others and helping other people, because what are we if we aren’t trying to do better?” Her can-do spirit is contagious, and she a master of motivating others to contribute to their communities.

Ollie is very humble about receiving this honor and hopes that it serves as an inspiration to others. “It is an incredible honor to be inducted, but I didn’t get here by myself,” she said. “There were many people with me along the way.” Her advice for younger generations is simple:  “Contribute to the world around you. Look for solutions to problems and be concerned for your neighbor. This is what life is all about.”

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Ollie Starr with three of her four children, (L-R) Keith Austin, Allen Austin, and Dee Ann Mchenry.

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