Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Starlin Marion Newberry Marrs (1862-1932)

Portrait from the Lubbock Avalanche July 14, 1922.

   A highly regarded figure in Texas educational history, Starlin Marion Newberry Marrs parlayed a near three-decade tenure as Terrell City superintendent of schools into a prominent role in Texas state government, serving as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for nine years, dying in office in 1932. Born on January 2, 1862 and raised in the small West Virginia town of Gauley Ridge, Starlin M.N. Marrs was one of ten children born to Francis Marion and Kathryn Lloyd Paddleford Marrs. Starlin would attend the National Normal University in Lebanon, Ohio and graduated from this college with his B.S. degree in the class of 1884.
   In the mid 1880s, Marrs relocated to Texas and married there in 1886 to Annie Ross Heslep (1862-1904), with whom he would have three children: Cecil Douglas (born 1894), Starlin Marion (1897-1974) and Mary C. (born ca. 1900). Following Annie's death in 1904, Marrs would remarry to Ida Caddell (187-1960) in June of 1909. Beginning in 1885 Marrs entered into the superintendency of the Stephenville, Texas school system, remaining here until 1888 when he accepted the position of superintendent of schools in Hamilton (serving from 1888 to 1890). He went on to serve as superintendent in the town of Cleburne from 1890 to 1893 and in the latter year settled in Terrell, Texas, where he was city school superintendent until 1898. 
   In 1898 he resigned as superintendent, having been appointed as chief clerk of the Texas Department of Education. He served a short time in this post and in 1900 was returned to the office of Terrell City School Superintendent, holding office until 1919. In that year he and his wife removed from Terrell to Austin, where Starlin assumed his duties as assistant state superintendent of education. Succeeding outgoing superintendent E.L. Dohoney in the post, Marrs served here until being elected as State Superintendent of Public Instruction in November 1922.
   Entering into his official duties in 1923, Marrs' nine-year tenure as superintendent is recorded by the Texas State Handbook website as being a "champion of rural and financially weak school districts", as well as being a supporter of "school consolidation, the strengthening of county school administration, and the provision of transportation to high school for students who otherwise would be unable to attend." In 1924 Marrs ran for a second term as state superintendent and in the November election coasted to an easy victory, defeating Republican candidate F.E. Illsley by a vote of 599, 935 to 91, 504. Reelected to third term in 1926 with over 230,000 votes, Marrs ran for a fourth term in 1928 and again won a resounding victory, garnering 582,190 votes on election day.
   Starlin M.N. Marrs won his fifth term as state superintendent in November 1930, besting his Democratic opponent by a vote of 271, 602 to 36, 549. Marrs would die in office on April 18, 1932, having suffered a heart attack while visiting College Station, Texas where he had been slated to give an address at Texas A & M University. He was survived by his wife Ida and was later interred at the State Cemetery in Austin.

                                                                From the Lubbock Avalanche, April 21, 1932.

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