Deacon John Starman finds trust to be abundant here

Seeds as far as the eye can see are ready for spring at John Starman's business in Elgin.

By Jane Schuchardt

Special to the Elgin Review 

When it comes to Elgin businessman John Starman, it’s all about seed. 

There are stacks and stacks of corn, soybean, and alfalfa seed bags and bins awaiting spring planting in his warehouse tucked away just west of Beckman Lumber. As a Catholic deacon, he also plants the seed of faith and, as a husband, dad, and grandfather, it’s obvious that sowing seeds of family love is a priority. 

An Elgin native and 1980 graduate of Pope John Catholic High School, his welcoming office is well appointed with his priorities. A family photo features his he and his wife of 32 years, Kelly, one daughter and three sons. They have four grands, two of each gender, and another two expected come June. 

Then one notices a wall of awards from Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., a U.S-based agriculture seed company for which Starman is a dealer. With the exception of 2010, the plaques laud Starman in 2008 through 2022 for sales growth and dollar volume sold. 

Above work and family symbols, is a cross, a visible symbol of his strong Christian grounding. Another treasure prominently displayed is his Certificate of Catholic Theology from the University of Notre Dame Satellite Theological Education Program in 2017. 

Deacon Starman, ordained a decade ago, explained he was called in the late 1990s and just wasn’t ready. Then there were signs, such as “an African American woman (at a church conference) asking me if I was a pastor,” he said. “When I asked why, she said ‘because you have so much peace about you’.” 

Evidently, that peace flows into his work life. “Sometimes conversations start up as business and do not end up that way,” Starman said as leaned back in his desk chair thinking of his client base of 100-plus growers in southern Antelope and eastern Wheeler counties. A 1984 graduate of Kearney State College, now University of Nebraska at Kearney, Starman holds a Bachelor of Science degree in ag business. 

Before starting up the Elgin business in 1996, Starman lived in Albion and worked as an agronomist and office manager for Coash, Inc., a fertilizer and chemical retailer bought out by Helena, Inc. Kelly and he moved to Petersburg when they married in 1990 and have lived there ever since. 

For more on this story, please turn to this week’s Elgin Review.