Obituary: Sheila Jennifer Stary
World-class athlete, qualified for U.S. Olympic Team, ’75 CHS grad
Sheila Jennifer “Jenny” Stary died September 6, just six days before her 65th birthday.
Jenny was the youngest member of the Stary family, graduating from Claremont High School in 1975. She was predeceased by her parents, Marvin and Jane Stary of Claremont; and her oldest sister, Susan Stary-Sheets Pasas, of Wilder, Idaho.
She is survived by her brother, Mike Stary of Oceanside, California, and her sister and brother-in-law, Kathy Stary Plaza and Phil Plaza, of Alsea, Oregon.
After excelling in track and field sports at Claremont High, she went on to attend Pomona College in Claremont, where she competed in track and field, volleyball, and cross-country for Pomona-Pitzer sports teams.
During her four years at Pomona, she was, according to sagehens.com, “ … simply the best athlete at Pomona-Pitzer, and decades later her overall accomplishments remain unsurpassed. She lettered all four years in track and field, three years in volleyball and one year in cross-country. In track and field, she was the top performer in the SCIAC all four years, singlehandedly dominating — and winning — more events than any other person in conference history.
During her senior year in 1980 she competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, where she qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team in the pentathlon. That same year she was honored as one of the first female decathletes when pole vault was added to the women’s competitions.
She graduated from Pomona College with a degree in math and went on to attain her master’s degree in analytical statistics at San Diego State University.
She went on to have a successful career in research and development with numerous pharmaceutical corporations. She led a joyful social life as a vibrant member of the San Diego area LGBTQ+ community, and formed many lifelong friendships, especially with her former longtime partner, Lauri Stock of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
She continued with her sports endeavors as a coach and competitor in many international Gay Games events and enjoyed competitive outrigger canoe paddling with Hanohano Outrigger Canoe Club, of Pacific Beach, San Diego.
“Jenny came into life with an extraordinary ‘drive for personal perfection,’ as evidenced in her lifelong competitive spirit and numerous awards and medals,” her family shared. “Even her second-grade teacher at Condit Elementary School observed: ‘It is so unusual to see talent in the physical, mental, and artistic combined.’”
Her strength continued to shine throughout her struggles with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. As her hospice nurse observed, “Jenny just simply has strong-willed grit!”
Her family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org.