Obituary: Emily Ann Starr

Great-grandmother, nature lover, kind, gentle spirit

Emily Ann Starr died peacefully on Thursday evening, June 30, at Ave Maria Assisted Living in Monterey, California, under the care of VNA and Hospice of Monterey. She was 99.

She was born Emily Ann Ament, on April 4, 1923, in Oberlin, Ohio, to William Sheffield Ament and Lillian Eleanor Hill. Her two older brothers, Sterling and Richard, were born in Pomona, while her dad was assistant professor of English at Pomona College. Her mother was homesick, so her father took a position at Oberlin College in Ohio.

Her parents then moved back to Claremont in 1926, and in 1927 her father joined the original faculty of Scripps College as a professor of English.

After graduating from Claremont High School, she attended Scripps and later earned a master’s degree in social work from UC Berkeley. She met her future husband, Fred Warren McDowell, on a tennis court in Berkeley. They were married on October 10, 1949, in her parents’ backyard in Claremont.

She helped Fred launch his architectural career with Ted Criley by doing office work. They raised two children. She was a member of Claremont Friends Quaker Meeting, the League of Women Voters and a discussion group made up of dear friends that lasted more than 50 years.

The couple divorced in 1962. She married Phil Starr in 1966. While Phil taught economics at Chaffey College, she began work at the College Student Personnel Institute. She eventually became the managing director of CSPI and loved her job and the team she was part of.

She enjoyed being in nature, working a docent at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (now Claremont Botanic Garden) and at Yosemite for two summers while in college. She enjoyed playing bridge, traveling, and volunteering in her community. She always had a positive outlook and a kind, caring and gentle spirit.

Ms. Starr is survived by her daughter An McDowell and her husband Dan O’Brien of Monterey, California; son Hugh McDowell of Tempe, Arizona; stepdaughter, Wendy Starr of Sarnia, Ontario, Canada; grandchildren Emily Rose McDowell and Cameron, Breanna and Devlin Starr-Humphreys; and a great-grandson, Liam.

A memorial service will be held online in August. If you wish to attend, send a note to An at

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to VNA and Hospice of Monterey at; or Ave Maria Assisted Living at Special thanks to the staff at both agencies who provided her with loving special care.


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