Wendell Ray Starks

March 11, 1944September 11, 2020

A man of family devotion and military pride, Wendell Ray Starks (affectionately known as “Starks” and “Poppi”) passed away on September 11, 2020 in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Born in Paducah, Kentucky, Wendell joined the U.S. Navy on February 4, 1962 determined to make a better life for himself and for his country. He traveled the world, served in Vietnam, and was a lifelong supporter of “his Navy.” Even his active duty retirement as an E6 from the USS Dahlgren did not stop his love of the military. Starks continued to work for over 30 years at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard until he formally retired in 2011. In his military career, he was awarded the honors of the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Award, Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation, and the Humanitarian Service Medal.

Thanks to his service and deployments, that is how Starks met the love of his life, Jo Ann Starks, in Key West, Florida. They married on March 25, 1971, and he became a dedicated father to five children and steadfast husband who unfailingly loved Jo Ann. While Jo Ann passed in 2018, his adoration for her never faded. Though heartbroken to lose these two beloved souls, his family takes comfort in knowing they are finally together again.

This selfless man knew challenges in his life, and yet he triumphed over every single one. Starks is remembered for being a father figure to many, a generous caretaker to those he loved, and a patriotic spirit to everyone he met.

He is survived by his five children: Terri Edwards (Joe), Eugene Forbus (Elena), Boyce Forbus (Crystal), Traci Ruiz, and James Forbus (Karen).

Starks’ legacy lives on with 12 grandchildren, Joseph (Lottie), Tito (Malinda), Stefano (Emiri), Chelsea, Jason (Donatella), Cherish, Corey (Jessica), Lindsea, Francesco (Irene), Cody (Natasha), Sam, and Chase, and 12 great-grandchildren who all live in the United States and Italy.

He will be so greatly missed for his unforgettable impact, his infectious laughter, and his many Navy Veteran hats that faithfully adorned his head.

A graveside service will be held at 2:00 PM on Saturday, September 19, 2020 at Rosewood Memorial Park. You may offer condolences at


  • Graveside Service

    Saturday, September 19, 2020


Wendell Ray Starks

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Betty Williams

September 19, 2020

Today is the day you are laid to rest with the love of your Life, my sister Jo Ann. Starks, i can't begin to say how much you will be missed, by all who knew you and loved you. I will always hold special memories in my heart for the best brother n law a person could have, and for the love and care you gave to my nieces and nephews. Until we meet again, i will think of you when i have my first cup of coffee in the morning, and i would get the call from you, "Had your coffee yet"?Love you always, Betty and Billy.

TERRI edwards

September 18, 2020

To many memories to express.!!The love and hurt i feel at this time overwhelming!! always your daughter

Walt Osbon

September 17, 2020

I have known Starks since I was a kid,. I was fortunate enough to reconnect with him at the shipyard on 2nd shift, where we were able to work together and reminisce about Ocean View and the good old days. He was a great man and mentor. My prayers go out to the family. Fair Winds my friend...

Tracy Cox

September 17, 2020

So sorry to hear of the passing of Mr. Starks. He was a fine and outstanding man too have worked so many jobs together, always a Joy to be around. Will never forget that laugh & deep voice. Prayers For All. Shop X-17 Tracy Cox 🙏🙏🙏

Lindsea Forbus

September 15, 2020

I could literally write a book....but one of my favorite memories is when we first moved to Virginia and we were staying with my grandparents. EVERY Sunday, his and I tradition was to go to Krispy Kreme to get donuts before everyone else got up. He had this red truck that one side of the window would roll down and the passenger door wouldn’t open so I’d have to climb through the driver door every time. That truck meant everything to him! He also NEVER let me go to school hungry or walk to school with school being across the street 😂😂 he made sure I had a bowl of corn flakes with maybe a pound of sugar thrown on top and guava toast. We were inseparable. Even the older I got and I moved away back to San Diego. I know I was a huge part of his heart and I’m forever grateful for the love and guidance he has instilled in me. I love you forever and a day.

Melanie Wedeman

September 15, 2020

My mother was best friends with Wendell Starks beautiful wife Jo Ann. When i met Starks i was so proud to know this man married this woman wth 5 children, because my own father had married my mother with 3 children. It takes a special kind of man to do that and raise those kids as his own. Starks was a funny guy, used to love going over with my mother to the house ad i would sit there and talk to Starks for long periods of time. He would tell me stories of his military life and tell me about his time a civil service for the military, which my father also was civil servant fir the military. I just felt this instant connection with him because he was just as nice and kind as his wife and daughter Traci. They were there for my mother after my father passed away. They loved my mother and they just took her in and helped her through my fathers death. They were always thete for her. Starks looked out for both the Jo Ann 's. He loved his family to pieces, especially his grandchildren. Starks was a soecial nan and i will never forget him! Rip Starks and you are with your true love for ever!

Jason FOrbus

September 15, 2020

While physically far, you never failed to show your affection to us here in Italy. You were truly a giant of a man, and with a big heart.

Traci Ruiz

September 15, 2020

My Dad when I was little used to brush my hair with no more tangles so I wouldn't cry with knots as my hair was fine. He did this because my Mom was rough handed to where I would complain and whine. He always when it was time to spank me he would close the door so my siblings wouldn' see he would slap the bed with the belt and I would scream . He never wanted to hurt me I was his little girl. He made my childhood care free and I cherish the many memories. I will forever miss him and be grateful God Blessed me with this gentle giant. I only take solace he is reunited with my Mom and whole again.


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