Kern County farmer, Fred Starrh, dies at age 89


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Fred Starrh, a giant in Kern County’s farming industry, has died at the age of 89.

Family members say Starrh died Tuesday of complications from a stroke he suffered about three weeks ago.

Sarrh was born in Arizona on June 15, 1929 to a family of cotton farmers near Tucson. His parents eventually moved to Kern County.

He served during the Korean War and met his future wife Nancy Johnson while stationed at Fort Louis in Washington. The couple was married for 54 years and had four children together.

Starrh began as a cotton farmer on 35 acres of land in Shafter and expanded his operations into the Buttonwillow area and grew pistachios and almonds.

Starrh eventually became embroiled in a decade-long legal battle with Aera Energy, suing the oil company for knowingly contaminating groundwater with oilfield waste water.

Starr eventually agreed to a multi-million dollar settlment in the case in his favor.

He also served on numerous boards in Kern County, including as a member of the Kern County Water Board for nearly three decades, the Kern High School District Board of Trustees and the Kern County Farm Bureau’s Board of Directors.

Starrh’s son, Larry, told 17 News a memorial service is set for April 28 at the Mennonite Brethren Church located at 400 Kern St. in Shafter at 4 p.m.

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