John Starcher and his band of experts at Starcher Enterprises Inc. and Starcher’s Village Pro Hardware on Main Street in the Village of Marblehead have rescued homeowners from domestic disasters for a couple of decades.
After two decades of also serving as President of Council of the Village of Marblehead, Starcher finally moved up to become its mayor in the November election, replacing long-time Mayor Jackie Bird. Starcher and his wife, Holly Gast, selected a very special place in the village for the swearing-in ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 23.
Family, friends and neighbors from around the village gathered in front of a plaque at the Lifeboat Station adjacent to the iconic Marblehead Lighthouse. The plaque honored Commander Winslow Griesser, one of the village’s earliest heroes, because there was a direct connection to the Starcher family.
Griesser was a member of the U.S. Lifesaving Service — the precursor of the U.S. Coast Guard — under the command of Lucien M. Clemons, another brave mariner. The Clemons Cemetery in Marblehead is named for Clemons, whose rescue of Lake Erie mariners during a fierce storm earned him the very first Congressional Gold Lifesaving Medal.
Griesser — the great-great-grandfather of Starcher’s wife, Holly Gast — settled in Marblehead. When the little town on the eastern end of the Marblehead Peninsula became a full-fledged village in 1891, Griesser was elected as its very first mayor.
Holly Gast’s husband has now become the Mayor of the Village of Marblehead more than 130 years later.
On Nov. 21, 1900, when commanding the Lifesaving Station, Griesser and a crew tried to rescue a stranded mariner in the teeth of a Lake Erie gale. All attempts failed. Griesser refused to give up and distinguished himself by heroically swimming out alone in the fierce storm to rescue the man clinging to a buoy, earning Griesser at Congressional Lifesaving Medal.
Starcher, 61, was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., but became a Marblehead resident when his family moved to the village in time for his freshman year at Danbury High School, where he played football and was a distance runner in track. A 1980 graduate, Starcher worked for Honeywell in Toledo as a surpervisor in building services.
He moved back to Marblehead to open Starcher Enterprises Inc. on June 1, 1992, and quickly became involved in the community, serving as Council President for two decades under Jackie Bird.
“My primary goal as mayor will be to continue the good work that our council has done over the years,” he said. “The Village is not in the best of shape, and we have already begin to plot a course for positive change. We have a balanced budget now, and are doing long overdue street repairs thanks to a special levy.
“Our downtown area is thriving, and we have repair projects that are huge improvements, such as issues with storm sewers. Maintaining our infrastructure is critical, as well as working with our merchants and the community.”