Marilyn Starring Named Saugatuck's 2015 Citizen Of The Year
Marilyn Starring is the recipient of Saugatuck’s 2015 Tony Vettori Citizen of the Year award. Marilyn’s selection was the based on her many years of giving back to and supporting Saugatuck’s business community, the City, schools, and many local not-for-profit and charitable organizations.
Marilyn Smith Starring was born and raised on a small dairy farm in Galien, MI.
Marilyn attended Galien Township Schools. After high school graduation she attended Lake Michigan Junior College and received an Associate’s degree in Education. Marilyn says she wanted to complete her Bachelor’s Degree, but her path followed another direction.
Her work ethic was apparent at an early age.
She picked strawberries, at age 11, was a babysitter, worked as a waitress and short order cook and was a front desk receptionist at a local motel in Buchanan.
To earn additional funds to complete for college, Marilyn went to work for Clark Federal Credit Union as a teller and then worked at Clark Equipment Company in Buchanan and Benton Harbor, holding various positions.
While working in Benton Harbor for Clark, Marilyn met her future husband, Bruce Starring. They dated for five years and were married on April 11, 1981. On October 15, 1983 they welcomed son Michael and on September 22, 1987 welcomed daughter Paula – her most treasured accomplishments.
In 1984, Marilyn resigned from Clark Equipment to work full time at the Star of Saugatuck as a crew member and eventually became the Star’s manager.
Marilyn says that after prompting from her husband, Bruce, she soon learned that she should learn “never to say never”.
After stating she would never get a Captains License, in 1981 she received her first U.S. Coast Guard masters license which was a 14-ton license and the scope was for the Kalamazoo River and not more than several hundred feet out into Lake Michigan, exactly the scope for the original Star of Saugatuck.
Marilyn currently holds a 100-ton masters licenses for inland waterways and Great Lakes.
Marilyn’s support of Saugatuck’s business community began when she attended a board meeting of the former S.R.A. (Saugatuck Retail Association) and was soon elected to the board.
She served as president from 1990-1991 and then served as secretary for the organization (SABA/SDABA) until April 2014. For the last four years she spearheaded the Downtown Summer Parking Shuttle Bus program.
Marilyn has given back to her community in many other ways. She volunteered for school events and activities and participated in Girls and Boy Scouts.
When the City of Saugatuck purchased the chain ferry “Diane”, Marilyn began what would become many years of overseeing the management of the iconic ferry and its employees.
She has assisted future captains get their Masters License and persuaded the U.S. Coast Guard to drop licensing age from 18 to 16; overseen its drug testing program; overseen Coast Guard inspections; and at times even working the ferry when captains were not available to work to keep it open.
Marilyn has been very involved in promoting tourism for Saugatuck through her work with the Lakeshore Attractions group, Great Lakes Passenger Association, the Passenger Vessel Association, Great Lakes Captains Association, and is a member of Circle Michigan and West Michigan Tourist Association.
Besides giving her much time and talents to a wide variety of community organizations, Marilyn has been a strong supporter of many local non-for-profit organizations. She and Bruce provide monetary support and sponsorships to these organizations as well as making the Star of Saugatuck available for fundraising cruises for many groups such as the Saugatuck-Douglas Rotary Club, Cow Hill Yacht Club and Relay for Life.
Upon learning that she was the recipient of this year’s Tony Vettori Saugatuck Citizen of the Year Award, Marilyn says, “It is such a blessing to walk down the streets of town and to be greeted by so many wonderful people that you may sincerely call your “friend”.
“I would hope I am remembered for being honest and able to help persons when they need it the most, and that I have truly been a good friend.
“I would be amiss if I didn’t mention my mom and dad and my mother- and father in-law for instilling such a strong work ethics in me. Special thanks going to Bruce, Michael and Paula who have put up with my numerous volunteering endeavors.”
A reception to honor Marilyn be held from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday, May 9, 2015 on the Star of Saugatuck, 716 Water Street, Saugatuck, MI 49453. Marilyn’s friends, business associates, neighbors and family are invited to attend.
The Citizen of the Year Award is named for former Saugatuck Mayor Tony Vettori who established the award.
The award is intended to recognize an outstanding City of Saugatuck resident who has demonstrated exceptional community service and extraordinary achievement in public service, sports, arts, music, science or an act of heroism while fostering community participation and involvement.
The first recipient was Sylvia Randolph in 2005.
Other winners of this prestigious award were Jane Van Dis, Mike Johnson, Russ and Ginger Wilkinson, Joy Muehlenbeck, Phil Miller, Fitz and Thelma Coghlin, Chuck and Patti Rickett, Peg Sanford and Larry Botz.