SURRY — Eleanor Charlotte McFarland Starr of Palm Coast, Fla., and Surry passed away on Feb. 6, 2015, at the Halifax Hospice Care Center in Port Orange, Fla., after a courageous battle with cancer. She was born Eleanor Charlotte von Koenitz in Yonkers, N.Y., Jan. 1, 1927. She attended various private schools along the Hudson River in Westchester County, graduated high school from Emma Willard School in Troy, N.Y., in 1945 and received a degree in zoology from the Connecticut College for Women in 1949.
After college, Eleanor went directly to Bar Harbor to work at The Jackson Laboratory, which was recovering from the great Mount Desert Island fire of 1947. When she started at the lab, total staff numbered in the teens, and grew to over a thousand by her retirement. With the exception of 10 years that she took off to raise four children, Eleanor was involved with research at the lab until her retirement in 1989. During most of those research years, she served as the lead research assistant to famed geneticist Dr. Elizabeth Russell, one of the few female scientists to ever be elected into the National Academy of Science. During her research years, Eleanor was the author or co-author of various papers published in professional journals.
Eleanor was predeceased by her husbands, Roger McFarland and Dr. Wilmarth Starr, and survived by her four children, Wayne and Maryanne McFarland of Sterling, Mass.; Leslie and John Mansfield of Bangor; Scott McFarland and Joy Lyons of Mount Desert; and Susan McFarland and Brian Boggs of Lamoine; along with her grandchildren, Rachel Johnson, Brian McFarland, Kerri McFarland, James Mansfield, Holli Shaw, Chapin McFarland and Keating McFarland, four great-grandchildren and her beloved companion of the past 15 years, Robert O. Wright of Palm Coast, Fla.
In addition to her motherly and Jackson Laboratories duties, Eleanor owned and operated the Manor House Inn on West Street in Bar Harbor for many years. When she moved to Surry, she built a log home on the Union River Bay, where she became active in the village affairs, was a member of the Surry Garden Club, supported and volunteered at the Bagaduce Music Lending Library in Blue Hill, served as a member of the Bagaduce Chorale, and was an active member of the Blue Hill Congregational Church, where she was a devoted member of the choir. In college she studied classical music and was well versed in choral and piano, which she played with skill for many years in her earlier days in Bar Harbor. She maintained her interest in classical music to the very end, but her true passion was and would always be gardening and was fondly known as the “flower lady.”
Starting in the late 1980s, she started spending her winters in Palm Coast, Fla., and her summers in Surry. In Florida, she soon joined the Trinity Presbyterian Church and sang in the choir and various choral groups. She was a member of several art organizations, studied watercolor painting, and became an accomplished artist. She was a faithful winter volunteer in various charitable organizations appearing particularly at the reference desk of the Flagler County Library for many years.
Memorial services will be held at a later date in both Florida and in Maine. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Trinity Presbyterian Church, 156 Florida Park Dr., Palm Coast, FL 32127; or First Congregational Church of Blue Hill, P.O. Box 444, Blue Hill, ME 04614.