Barbara Starnes

Barbara G. Starnes

1933 - 2024

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Barbara Baldwin Graves Starnes


Born the 4th of May in 1933, Barbara Baldwin Graves was the second child of Edgar and Beatrice Graves. Barbara passed away at her home on College Hill Saturday 10 February 2024 surrounded by family.


Regularly referring to herself as the longest resident on College Hill not yet in the cemetery, Barbara lived a full life in the arms of Hamilton. Her father, Edgar “Digger” Graves, who arrived on The Hill in 1927, was a long-time chairman of Hamilton’s History Department. His scholarly production culminated with A Bibliography of English History to 1485. Barbara’s brother, Stephen Palmer Graves, was graduated from Hamilton in 1954 and subsequently died of polio at the School of Languages in Bologna, Italy in 1956. 

Barbara loved sports and particularly ice hockey. She played on the College Hill Killers boys’ team who were archrivals of the Clinton Devil Dogs. Loved golf and tennis at Hamilton and eventually at the Sadaquada Golf Club. After a short stint at Wells College resulting in her becoming an early college dropout, Barbara graduated from the Katherine Gibbs School in Boston. She then took a post at the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington. After her brother’s death, she travelled to Istanbul, Turkey with the Consul General of Istanbul – Robert Miner and his family. (Miner was a student of her father’s and graduated from Hamilton 1932).

Returning from Istanbul in 1957, Barbara married a Hamilton history professor, William DeMarcus Starnes, at the Hamilton Chapel. They had one son, Stephen. Professor Starnes died in 1961. 


While raising a little boy as a single mother, Barbara eventually graduated from both Syracuse University and later with a Masters from Temple University in Philadelphia. She spent a 30-year career in the Whitesboro Central Schools as an elementary classroom teacher and later a reading specialist. Sabbaticals took her to Japan, the Australian Outback and China where she learned other methods of teaching children with learning differences. She taught graduate classes for teachers at SUNY College of Technology in Utica and, after retiring from Whitesboro, joined the Hamilton staff in the Higher Education Opportunity Programs running its tutoring classes.


After retiring from Hamilton, she became the inveterate adventure traveler.  Australasia, The Antarctic, The Galapagos, Machu Pichu and eventually to Africa.  Barbara became a safari addict of sorts with more than 20 trips to the African continent. Starting in East Africa for the Great Migration, then to trek with the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda. Turning south to run the Zambezi, the drive the bush of Zimbabwe, The Skeleton Coast of Namibia and finally to Africa’s Last Eden – Botswana’s Okavango Delta. She waited until Mandela was free before heading to South Africa and the Cape. On her last safari in 2014, she celebrated her 80th birthday accompanied by her son and daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter Elizabeth.


A highlight of her life on The Hill was the four years that her granddaughter, Elizabeth, attended Hamilton College. Despite Barbara’s insistence that she wouldn’t be a bother to Elizabeth on campus, her home on College Hill Road was often the site for dinners and informal salons with Elizabeth’s friends who came to adore her as their own grandmother.


In 2011 Barbara travelled to India with the Hamilton in India program. She was so inspired by the Gandhian institution she visited that she donated to the ashram for several years afterwards.

Barbara was a docent for many years at the Munson Williams Proctor Institute (now the Munson) and the Kirkland Town Library. She was a founding member of the board for A Better Chance in the Clinton Central Schools. And served as a volunteer marshal for the LPGA at local events.


For years she hosted a multitude of Hamilton’s foreign students at her home over vacations. She became “in loco parentis” to a cadre of those whose families were far away from The Hill. Barbara received the Jeff Little ’71 2016 Volunteer of the Year Award from Hamilton and continued to volunteer as a hostess for Alumni, Students and Faculty at her home until the Pandemic set in.


Barbara is survived by her son Stephen (Hamilton 1980) and his wife Rose of Philadelphia; her granddaughter Elizabeth Palmer Starnes Califano (Hamilton 2011), her husband Jayme and two great grandchildren, Holden 6 and Maren 3 of Bernardsville, NJ.


A memorial service will be held at Hamilton College later in the spring. 


Barbara’s family would like to thank the many friends, faculty and alumni of the College who have loved Barbara. And especially the caregivers of Oxford Home Health Care and Daughter for Hire. Donations of charitable nature can be made in Barbara’s memory to:


The Class of 1980 Phyllis Holmes Breland Scholarship at Hamilton College, The Sage Rink Renovation at Hamilton, The Stephen Palmer Graves Memorial Fund at Hamilton, or the Munson in Utica.

A Memorial Tree was planted for Barbara
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Owens-Pavlot & Rogers Funeral Service
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Barbara Starnes

In Loving Memory

Barbara Starnes

1933 - 2024

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