Obituary: Sheila Jennifer Stary | The Claremont COURIER


World-class athlete, qualified for the US Olympic team, graduated from CHS in 1975

Sheila Jennifer “Jenny” Stary died on September 6, just six days before her 65th birthday.

Jenny was the youngest member of the Stary family, graduating from Claremont High School in 1975. She was predeceased by her parents, Marvin and Jane Stary of Claremont; and her older sister, Susan Stary-Sheets Pasas, of Wilder, Idaho.

She is survived by her brother, Mike Stary of Oceanside, CA, and her sister and brother-in-law, Kathy Stary Plaza and Phil Plaza, of Alsea, Oregon.

After excelling in track and field sports at Claremont High, she then attended Pomona College in Claremont, where she competed in track and field, volleyball, and cross country for the Pomona-Pitzer sports teams.

During her four years at Pomona, she was, according to, “…simply the best athlete in Pomona-Pitzer, and decades later, her overall accomplishments remain unmatched.” She spent four years in track and field, three years in volleyball and one year in cross country. In track and field, she was the top performer in the SCIAC for all four years, single-handedly dominating — and winning — more events than anyone else in conference history.

In her senior year in 1980, she competed at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, where she qualified for the US Olympic Team in the pentathlon. That same year, she was honored as one of the first female decathletes when the pole vault was added to women’s competitions.

She graduated from Pomona College with a degree in mathematics and later earned her master’s degree in analytical statistics from San Diego State University.

She went on to a successful career in research and development with numerous pharmaceutical companies. She led a joyful social life as a vibrant member of the San Diego-area LGBTQ+ community and formed many lifelong friendships, especially with her former longtime partner, Lauri Stock of Santa Fe, New -Mexico.

She continued her athletic pursuits as a coach and competitor in many international Gay Games events and enjoyed outrigger canoe paddling with the Hanohano Outrigger Canoe Club, of Pacific Beach, San Diego.

“Jenny was born with an extraordinary ‘drive for personal perfection’ as evidenced by her lifelong competitive spirit and her many awards and medals,” her family shared. “Even his second-grade teacher at Condit Elementary observed, ‘It’s so unusual to see talent in the physical, mental and artistic combination.'”

Her strength continued to shine throughout her struggles with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. As her palliative care nurse observed, “Jenny just has the guts and the will!”

His family is requesting that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association at


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