Photo of Virgil Starks.

Photo from Auburn Website

Virgil Starks, a beloved former Falling Creek counselor, passed away several weeks ago from a cardiac arrest. He was a counselor in the 1980s and was recently the Senior Associate Athletic Director at Auburn University.

Virgil is remembered for his huge smile, wonderful sense of humor, and his courage to be among the first African American counselors at Falling Creek.

The Opelika-Auburn News wrote a wonderful article about Virgil and how much he will be missed by his friends and family. Virgil is survived by his wife and three daughters.

Garrett Randolph, who was a counselor at Falling Creek with Virgil, wrote a nice letter and mailed it to camp remembering his friendship with Virgil. An excerpt follows:

Photo of The Bros.

Garrett, Skeet, Virgil and Terry

“I’m not sure how it happened, but there was a sweet synchronicity in a string of summers which rendered a lasting friendship and gave us the nickname ‘Bros.’ It began, it seems, with Skeet Keyes, Terri Tyree, and I, but when Virgil arrived he was an instant addition. And over the years, the ‘Bros’ became an ever-expanding crew which included more and more, and perhaps all of us.”

“Virgil showed a lot of guts coming to Falling Creek. In many ways, he was the Hank Aaron of Falling Creek (Tim Taylor was the Jackie Robinson). When he arrived, the only African Americans at camp worked in the kitchen; in many ways it was still the old South. No doubt ‘V’ helped to change all of us forever.”

“Virgil greeted us with open arms and an open heart, as we did him. And all of us were the better for it.”

“Perhaps it was instructive for campers to witness genuine love between counselors like us and Virgil. I remember that Donnie Bain had a special place in his heart for ‘V’ and enjoyed him a lot. And of course, everyone remembers, ‘I Am Sombody.’”

We thank Garrett for letting us share his letter.