From "The Southern Cross" newspaper Friday, 10th December 1926
MR. P. J. STARRS - HENLEY BEACH
It is with deep regret that we have to record the death on Wednesday, 1st inst., at his residence, Henley Beach, of MR. PETER JOSEPH STARRS, who was well known to readers of "The Southern Cross" as a clever writer of verse under the pen name of "Jo Murna". He was also known as a zealous Catholic and a man who led an exemplary life to the clergy and others with whom he had been associated during the past 20 years at Normanville and Henley Beach.
Mr. Starrs was born 70 years ago at Virginia and received his early education at the Gawler Convent, afterwards studying under Mr. O'Brien. After attaining manhood, he was engaged in agricultural pursuits at Mundoora and Wokurna. He was also prospecting at Teetulpa in the eighties.
In "The Southern Cross" of December 11, 1925, MR. STARRS, in a personal reminiscence of the late Senator J.V. O'Loughlin, recalled meeting the Senator at Tetulpa in 1886, when he was connected with the "Terowie Enterprise". Mr. Starrs was one of the first subscribers to "The Southern Cross" when it was established by Mr. O'loughlin and he was its correspondent in Normanville and Henley Beach for many years.
After leaving Wokurna, Mr. Starrs went prospecting in Western Australia, first for a mining syndicate and afterwards on his own account. There he was followed by the persistant ill-luck in worldly affairs which pursued him during life. He had discovered and pegged out a mine, which afterwards proved higly remunerative, when hew was saized with appendicitis and had to go into hospital for an operation. On coming out some weeks later, he found that he had lost the claim which had been jumped during his illness.
Mr. Starrs afterwards returned to South Australia where ghe married Miss Maple of Peterborough who was well known as a school teacher, and settled on the land at Normanville. Some years ago he sold out and came to Henley Beach in order to have better facilities for the education of his children.
For the last few years he has had a hard struggle with ill-health and other difficulties but he faced his troubles bravely and faithfully attended to his religious duties. He said the Rosary in his house every night with his family and attended Mass on Friday and other week mornings whenever possible. He made the recent 4 day's mission at Henly Beach, of which he contributed a report to "The Southern Cross" of November 26.
He gained the jubilee mission on behalf of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and died at the close of the month devoted to them quietly in his sleep on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. He had been attended by Fathers Forrest and Renolds, M.S.C, and the remains were interred at the West Terrace Cemetery on Thursday, 2nd inst.
M. Starrs had, for most of his life-time, "meditated the thankless Muse" and his poetic powers were considerable. He had a great command over all kinds of metres and a facility in rhyming unusual words. He indulged largely in double and triple rhymes, in alliteration, and other embellishments distinctive of Celtic poets, who derive them from the old Gaelic bards.
In the Christmas edition of "The Southern Cross" of December 11, 1925, appeared a remarkable instance of Mr. Starr's powers of alliteration and rhyming, entitled "Alliteration", dealing with the sea and its varios moods. It was only on the Monday evening prior to his death that Mr. Starrs completed for the Christmas number of "The Southern Cross a series of aphorisms in verse which he entitled "Pickled Points", and which we hope to publish next week.
Mr. Starrs leaves a widow and 4 children, the eldest of whom is 15 years old, to mourn their loss. Mrs. Starrs reumed teaching some months ago, and is at present employed in the Woodville School.
From the altar at Henley Beach on Sunday, Father Forrest referred to Mr. Starr's death. He said he would be missed in the Church, as he was an ideal Catholic; always present at Holy Mass, not only on Sundays, but on week days. He had never once missed Mass and never retired to bed without reciting the Rosary. He was a man who would give his life for his faith and had great humility in all his dealings.
He was sure that the congregation would join with him in offering sincere sympathy to Mrs. Starrs and family and would remember also in their prayers. R.I.P.