Sacrifice and Service

Sacrifice and Service

The legacy of Dr. George Starks ‘50
Sacrifice and Service

Dr. George Starks

In what seems like Hollywood fiction, the tale of George Starks’ survival in World War II is nothing short of heroic. The story is documented in the book, Coffin Corner Boys by Carole Avriett, and brought to life by his son, Paul Starks, who speaks to groups about the life of his late father.

World War II loomed as Starks graduated high school in 1941. After passing tests for cadet training, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and emerged as a B-17 pilot and crew commander at age 19 in England.

He was assigned to the 92nd Bomb Group, 407th Squadron, 8th Air Force. On his fifth mission, Starks’ plane was shot down. He walked 300 miles, evading German soldiers through Nazi-occupied France. Throughout his journey, French patriots gave him food and directions to Switzerland.

“Dad said he was wet and cold but would tell himself to go one more day,” Paul said.

Eventually, someone put him in contact with a doctor who smuggled him to the border, and a French resistance fighter led him safely across the border. He spent several months in Switzerland before reconnecting with U.S. troops in southern France.

Following the war, Starks attend the University of Florida and then earned a degree in dentistry from the University of Louisville. He went on to serve in the U.S. Army Dental Corps, and completed a tour of duty in Korea, receiving numerous awards including the Purple Heart. In 1952, Starks opened his own dental practice, first in Jacksonville and then relocating to Orlando in 1955.

After 29 years, Starks retired from private practice and joined the faculty at the University of Florida College of Dentistry where he taught for 16 years. He also worked as an instructor with the Florida Dental Board Consultants.

“Dad was adamant about professionalism and doing what was right,” Paul said. “He was admired by many and was elected as one of the faculty favorites. He loved showing students how to do real-world dentistry.”

The Dr. George Starks Memorial Scholarship, established to benefit the education of UofL School of Dentistry students, honors his legacy. If you are interested in giving to the Starks Memorial Scholarship, please contact Senior Director of Development Marty Wold, marty.wold@louisville.edu or 502-852-2011.