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A Green Bay Legend’s Starred Return to Lambeau Field

Cherry Starr says, “We lived in Green Bay 31 years; longer than we’ve ever lived anywhere!  We feel like we’re coming home again.” Her husband, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr agrees, “Absolutely! Still home! Our adopted home!”
 
For both, it was the trip of a lifetime! The Alabama natives taking a pilgrimage back to Green Bay – for maybe one last time – to where the famed Packers quarterback became an NFL icon - and now 50 years later - enthusiastically greeted to a hero’s welcome. Cherry exclaims, “The fans are just fabulous! They just embrace you whether you’re winning or losing. They are the most supportive fans in the world. I cannot imagine being in any other city to play football in. It’s just been great. Hasn’t it, honey?" Bart echoes, “It sure has!”
 
At 81, the Super Bowl’s first two-time MVP continues to make a dramatic recovery - healthy enough to appear at a long-anticipated half-time ceremony held in Brett Favre’s honor on Thanksgiving Night at Lambeau Field. “Bart’s had a very difficult year,” Cherry explains, “But he’s just a great survivor! He never should have lived through a heart attack and two strokes and four major seizures. Nobody expected him to live through that. We owe so much to so many people who have kept us in their prayers and he’s just a miracle! He really is with everything he’s been through. I’m just happy he’s with us.”
 
And happy to keep memories alive - from their 1956 Green Bay arrival – playing in what is the smallest professional sports city to this day.  Cherry recalls, “The Packers played at a high school stadium that was so small. And the other teams really didn’t want to come to Green Bay because they couldn’t make any money. That’s what initiated the sharing of revenues among the league, so the bigger teams that made more money shared their revenue with smaller teams from smaller cities but Green Bay was at the bottom of the list.”
 
But they would surge to the top at winning titles! Bart and Cherry’s legacy parallels Packers history, small beginnings that have grown into significant success. They are active supporters of Rawhide Boys Ranch, a faith-based home in Wisconsin for at-risk youth. Cherry remembers, “His first contract was for six-thousand, five-hundred dollars. So we really didn’t have a lot of money to invest in starting a home for boys. And a miracle happened! He won the Most Valuable Player of the Super Bowl and won a corvette convertible. Well, we had an idea that we could raffle off that convertible and raise a lot of money. And in three days we sold 40-thousand tickets for one dollar a piece.  And we raised enough money to put the down payment on our property.” Bart enthusiastically confirms, “We really did!”
 
Current Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers speaks about Bart and Cherry Starr with great respect saying, “They are incredible people. They have been so diligent to support their communities to give back as much as they possibly can. What you’re about is going to come out at some point. And those two have nothing to worry about because they live it every single day and they walk their faith out!”
 
Enough for the NFL to sanction the Bart Starr Award given annually to the player who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership at home, on the field and in the community. Cherry calls the award recipients, “Really remarkable people! And their generosity and the things they’ve done for their communities is pretty powerful really.”
 
So, what’s that Starr formula to make a long, cherished marriage? Cherry explains, “For one thing, we really like each other! We don’t just love each other, but we really enjoy each other’s company. And we’ve always exercised a lot of humor in our marriage. And something I think people forget when they get married is they forget to be polite to each other. They forget to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, and appreciate things you do for each other. I think you still have to acknowledge that on a daily basis. We’ve always done that.”
 
Bart adds, “Right! This is really a sweetheart here. She is special!”
 
Interviewer comments, “She’s the first lady of the NFL.”
 
Bart responds, “I like that! I like that one!"
 
Cherry says, “I don’t know I deserve that, but I like it.”
 
Their championship journey that began in Green Bay lives strong through a faith and gratitude passed on from this legendary Starr quarterback and his most treasured teammate!
 
Cherry urges, “You keep that in mind with how blessed you are. Really, that’s the biggest thing in all our years. Regardless of the difficult times, we realize that we’ve been incredibly blessed.”
 

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