Vernon Starley, known by family and close friends as 'Sam,' former mayor of Fillmore, Utah, died Friday, November 7, 2014, after a valiant and noble battle with Lymphoma and numerous other complications related to living with cancer since November 2007.
Vernon was born April 9, 1936, the eighth child of nine, to Orvil Lewis Starley and Fern Black in Fillmore, Utah. Vernon graduated from Millard High School in 1954. He entered USU on a scholarship and finished as a Distinguished Military Graduate with a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Regular Army, Armor Branch.
Vernon and Georgia Anderson were married on June 7, 1959 in Fillmore. Their 24 year adventure as a military family began in Germany, with the arrival of two daughters, Donna and Sandra. The family moved 13 times as Vernon pursued his career as an Army Officer reaching the rank of Full Colonel. Along the way, Vernon had varied job assignments including: foreign intelligence (with duties in Germany, Korea, 2 tours in Vietnam, and the Pentagon), foreign liaison officer (between the US Army and foreign embassies in Washington, D.C.), and 6th Army Inspector General at the Presidio of San Francisco. He also served as: Professor of Military Science at San Jose State; Training Instructor with the US Marine Corps; and an Advisor to the Vietnamese civil government.
Vernon was presented 26 decorations and awards for valor and distinguished service including: Legion of Merit with OLC, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart for wounds received in Vietnam. He was also decorated 4 times by the Vietnamese government, twice for valor. He wears the Combat Infantry Badge.
After retiring and returning to Fillmore in 1982, he was very active in the community. He served for eight years as a volunteer EMT, and for many years on Planning and Zoning Boards, the local Irrigation Board, and the Utah Arabian Horse Club. He was the Mayor of Fillmore from 2002 to 2006, a job he truly loved! However, his greatest satisfaction was working with other veterans to bring the Millard County Veterans Memorial to completion. Sam's public service was his attempt to pay for the privilege of living in the greatest country in the world.
Sam's had a lifelong love: HORSES! He was lucky to acquire a handful of the top Arabian bloodlines and build a herd of show horses. He and his Arabians were highlighted in national magazines. Sam also loved team penning, and his proudest moment was winning a belt buckle and saddle in the Days of '47 Rodeo on an Arabian! To finance all this fun, he ran a cattle and hay farm.
Sam was a devoted husband and father, great brother and uncle, true patriot and leader. He was an inventor, a skilled craftsman, and woodworker.
He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Georgia Anderson Starley; daughters, Donna Starley (Logan), and Sandra Starley (Moab); brother, Milton Starley (Bountiful); sister, Phyllis Carter (Fillmore); sister-in-law, Ann Starley (Magna). He is preceded in death by his parents Orvil and Fern Starley; two brothers, Willis Starley and Dell Starley; and four sisters, Arva Buckley, Maggie Huntsman, Florence Caswell, Kay Dean Starley.
Funeral Services will be held Saturday, November 15, 2014 in the Fillmore Utah, First Ward Church at 1:00 pm. A viewing will be held prior to the funeral from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm. Interment will be at the Fillmore City Cemetery under the care of Olpin Stevens Funeral Home. Online condolences can be offered at www.olpinstevensfuneralhome.com. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the American Legion Post 61-Fillmore, or the Huntsman Cancer Center.