Wahoo gives Starr warm send off
Updated 09/22/2008 04:19:28 PM EDT
      WAHOO - Patricia Eliason Starr is on a journey of a lifetime, and she started that journey in Wahoo. "Everything I learned, I learned here in Wahoo and I won't forget that," she said.

      Starr is pedaling her way to Atlantic City, where she will compete in the Ms. Senior America Pageant. "Just because the number on the driver's license says 71 doesn't mean you can't pedal across America," the 1954 Wahoo High School graduate said. "I want to inspire people and the kids of today."

      Starr began her 1,400-mile trip Friday morning at the Wahoo Middle/High School.

      It was a party atmosphere at the school for the send off. In the Little Theatre, the pep band played, students sang the Star Spangled Banner, the Show Choir entertained and Starr, a professional musician, sat down at the piano to play to the mood.

"This is an absolutely fun morning," Starr told students, staff and members of the public who had gathered for the send off.  "So, I am playing some fun music or you. This is my boogie medley.

      Starr and her husband, Gabriel, also told the students to work hard. Starr said they needed to take lessons from both school and community. She is proud, Starr added, of her roots and her hometown. She and husband have homes in both California and Wahoo.

During Friday morning's send off, Starr was presented a proclamation signed by fellow Wahoo High School graduate and Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman. The governor had proclaimed Sept. 19 as Patricia Eliason Starr Day in Nebraska. Heineman was unable to attend Friday morning's activities, but Irene Heineman of Wahoo stood in for her son and made the proclamation presentation.

Starr is the reigning Ms. Senior Nebraska and, in 1996, was Ms. Senior California.

These are not her first stints as queen. In 1954, the Swedeburg native was the Wahoo High School Sports Queen. In 1957, she was selected to be Miss Wahoo and represented the town in the Miss America State Pageant.
      Now at 71-years of age, Starr believes in pushing herself past the strength of human endurance. Proclaiming herself "the Bicycle Queen", Starr and traveling companion Aitken should arrive in Atlantic City just in time for the Oct. 19 through 25 pageant.

 While staying healthy through such activities as bicycling is important to Starr, there is another important reason this trip was planned.  Equally important to her is music and music education.       

After graduating from Wahoo High School, Starr attended Luther Junior College in Wahoo and the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. She graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University and is credentialed to teach vocal and instrumental music in both Nebraska and California.

She is a concert pianist and trombonist and embraces music as her life-long profession. Starr and her husband have now established a music scholarship at Wahoo High School and are using this trip as a kick off to gather funds so that scholarship may go in perpetuity.

They donated $1,000 on Friday morning to get the scholarship fund off to a good start. Those funds - $500 for vocal and $500 for instrumental - will be available to two students graduating in May 2009.       

Starr said there would be some basic guidelines for students wishing to apply for the scholarships.
      "You have to have good grades," she said. "You have to have drive. You have to have talent."
      Based upon what she has seen during her visit to the school, Starr added students at Wahoo High School should have no problems meeting those guidelines.
      The goal for the scholarship fund is $10,000. He said about $1,400 had already been received prior to Friday morning. Many of those dollars had come from friends of theirs in California. He said that contributors from far and near believe in the passion of the students in Wahoo.      

 "It's all for you guys," he told the students. "Everybody is going to know where Wahoo is."
     Progress of Starr's trip can be found at www.PatriciaStarrNebraska.com      

Those wishing to donate to the scholarship fund may send a check or money order in care of the Greater Wahoo Development Foundation, 640 N. Broadway.