Barbara Graves Starnes P’80, GP’11
Barbara Baldwin Graves Starnes P’80, GP’11, a Hamilton friend and former employee with lifelong ties to the College, died on Feb. 10 at the age of 90.

Starnes lived much of her life on College Hill and reciprocated her affection for Hamilton by extending her warmth to others throughout the decades. She was the daughter of Professor of History Edgar “Digger” Graves and his wife, Beatrice, and one of three children, including Stephen Graves ’54. She married history professor William Starnes in Hamilton’s Chapel in 1957 and had a son, Stephen ’80, before her husband died in 1961.

Starnes, an alumna of Katherine Gibbs College in Boston and a former Central Intelligence Agency employee before marriage, earned additional degrees from Syracuse University and Temple University. After a 30-year teaching career at Whitesboro Central Schools and instructing graduate-level courses for educators at the SUNY College of Technology in Utica, she joined Hamilton’s Higher Education Opportunity Programs, where she oversaw tutoring services.

When Starnes wasn’t embarking on global explorations, including a journey to India with a Hamilton-affiliated program in 2011, she often welcomed students, alumni, and faculty members to her College Hill home for dinners and other occasions. For years, she hosted Hamilton’s international students during breaks, drove them to doctor appointments or the airport, and, in one instance, changed a student’s life by helping her attain permanent legal status in the U.S. She served in loco parentis to many, especially friends and classmates of her son and granddaughter, Elizabeth Starnes Califano ’11.

Starnes was a regular presence on campus and continued to volunteer as a hostess for members of the College community at her home up until the COVID-19 pandemic. She consistently supported causes important to her, including the Hamilton Fund, women’s ice hockey, the Root Glen, and her father’s scholarship fund.

In 2016, Starnes received one of Hamilton’s premier honors, the Jeff Little ’71 Volunteer of the Year Award. “Those who love Hamilton, who treasure its history and cherish the opportunities and friendships they found here, do what they can to help the College flourish,” the citation read. “Even among such loyal supporters, you stand as an inspiration for your decades of quiet dedication.”

A memorial service for Starnes will be held at Hamilton College later in the spring. Gifts in her memory can be made to The Class of 1980-Phyllis Holmes Breland Scholarship, the College’s Sage Rink Renovation Project, the Stephen P. Graves Book Fund at Hamilton’s Burke Library, or Munson in Utica.

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