Magazine Writer (b. 1918 - d. 2005)

Ethel Allan Starbird, 87, a senior writer and editor for National Geographic magazine, died June 27 of a stroke at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital. She lived at the Fairfax, a military retirement home at Fort Belvoir.

Ms. Starbird came to Washington during World War II, when she was an officer with the Women's Army Corps. She was a speechwriter and magazine editor and served in the South Pacific.

After the war, she was an editor and broadcaster for a CBS radio station in Burlington, Vt., for two years. In 1947, she moved to Honolulu, where she worked in advertising and for an ABC radio station. She spent a year as a freelance writer in San Francisco before moving to Japan as chief writer for the Asian network of Armed Forces Radio.

In 1952, she volunteered for the presidential campaign of Dwight D. Eisenhower and moved to Washington. She worked with the Republican National Committee from 1952 to 1954, coordinating women's activities. She served in the press service of the U.S. Information Agency from 1954 to 1957, when she became a public relations officer for the General Services Administration.

She was a writer and editor with National Geographic from 1961 to 1983, when she retired. She traveled throughout the world for the magazine and wrote articles on a variety of subjects, particularly about New England.

Ms. Starbird was born in Washington and graduated from high school in Burlington. She was a graduate of the University of Vermont and worked as a legal secretary before joining the WACs.

She lived in Washington from 1952 to 1984, when she retired to the Northern Neck of Virginia. She was known for her cantankerous humor and for her parties, which often included impromptu musical performances on an assortment of instruments she kept.

She leaves no immediate survivors.

Source: Washington Post. Sunday, July 17, 2005; Page C11. Online at here.

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