Bill Clinton and the presidential scandal that nearly saw him impeached have dogged Alice Starr ever since her husband, Ken, launched an investigation into the president of the United States. The Starrs are now poised to move to the West Coast amid new accusations sent flying by the recent publication of Clinton’s memoirs.
“It was a difficult time for us, and it’s coming back to us now,” said Starr. “He had to blame somebody. It was a job [Ken] was assigned, and he did it with integrity. He never had any animosity toward the Clintons. He doesn’t have any political rancor.”
Though Clinton’s memoirs have opened old wounds, Starr says what she will always remember about that time was how her friends and the community pulled together to support her family during a very difficult and highly publicized time.
“Our neighbors, friends, church, everybody was very supportive to Ken and me and our children,” said Starr. “Whether they were Democrat or Republican, they didn’t hold it against Ken.”
Friend and associate Anne Vandemark said, “All during that, she just carried herself so gracefully. I’ve never heard her say anything against the Clintons, though I’m sure she wanted to. I would have, if I were her.”
THOUGH THE STARRS BECAME KNOWN around the world because of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the couple were prominent McLeanites long before then. They came to the area in 1975 and quickly set about assimilating into the community and becoming involved in a variety of charitable organizations.
For the last 16 years, Starr has been a top executive with West*Group and has used her connections and creativity to help get charitable organizations funding.
“I’ve tried to be a conduit to helping nonprofits form public/private partnerships and give them creative, innovative ways to stay afloat,” said Starr.
Vandemark said, “Most of these are charities that she never got any reimbursement for. She has wonderful, quiet leadership skills. Alice is a selfless person. She really doesn’t do things for praise.”
The list of local organizations that Starr has been directly involved with are too numerous to mention. There are some projects that she has undertaken that residents are probably aware of without knowing about her involvement in them.
Creating Central Park in McLean, where free concerts are held and families can go to enjoy the play sets, was Starrs idea. “She had the idea for that, and people don’t even know. She knew it was something we needed, and she did it,” said Vandemark.
ONE OF STARR’S most visible charities has been Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean. She has helped bring attention to the historic living museum since Congressman Frank Wolf asked her to help raise a matching grant in 1982. “I’ve helped them enhance the facilities,” said Starr. “This is the only place in McLean where we can bring children, and people come from all over, to see how an average American family lived before the Revolutionary War.”
Anna Eberly, the director of Claude Moore said that Starr has been directly involved in all of the major changes that have taken place at the park over the last two decades. “She was instrumental in us getting our endowment and getting the funds to be privately operated,” said Eberly. “We joke that she never sleeps.”
“She is one of those people who says what she thinks. That’s incredibly valuable in a board member. She is not a shrinking violet, that’s for sure,” said Eberly. The board of directors views Starr’s contributions as so valuable that they intend to keep her on the board even while she is living thousands of miles away. “It’s been 22 years that she’s been on the board, we aren’t going to loose her now,” said Eberly.
Starr is also responsible for the McLean Chamber of Commerce space at the Government Center on Balls Hill Road. “No one had ever thought about having an actual place for it before. She turned that around by just asking,” said Vandemark.
Starr, it seems, has had a hand in everything from literacy programs to visual arts support. She helped build the McLean Project for the Arts into what it is today, and she recently helped drive the Capitol Book Festival.
THOUGH MOVING ON to California and far away from the political life of Washington, D.C., the Starrs will not be sitting on their laurels. Ken Starr has accepted the position of law school dean for Pepperdine University. Ironically, Ken Starr had been offered the position before but had to decline to complete the Clinton case. “He was asked to go to Pepperdine seven years ago, before Monica Lewinsky became a household name,” said Alice Starr
“I’ll be helping to entertain the faculty on the Pepperdine campus, I’m becoming a grandmother, and I’m thinking about doing some consulting to help nonprofits become self-sustaining,” said Starr.
The Starrs are retaining their home in McLean and expect to return to the area every month. Alice Starr is still on the boards of several organizations and plans to remain active with them.
“She will adjust anywhere. I’ve wondered how she will handle it, though, in California. She is somebody that is known, whose work is known. There she will have to start over again, so it’s good that she will be coming back. And it’s good for us. We would all miss her more than even we would know,” said Vandemark. “She’s an outstanding citizen who has contributed so much to McLean.”