Born Stephanie Star Walmsley on December 27, 1944 in Port Chester, NY, she grew up in Rye, NY before attending Syracuse University. After graduating in 1967, Star taught English for two years in the war-torn country of the Republic of Korea through the Peace Corps, beginning what would become a life of service. Star went on to work with people struggling with substance use disorder in New York City, work in experimental elementary schools in the Santa Cruz mountains, and be at the ground floor of the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, researching social change and human potential, all before finding her way to Sonoma, California in 1979.
In Sonoma, Star helped start Home Care Connections with the mission to connect individuals who wanted to die in their own homes with people available to be home-care providers. She later pioneered programs such as the Sonoma Charter School and Soloquest School and Learning Center. Star will be remembered for her unrelenting passion to improve the lives of others, especially Sonoma’s youth. Her continual search for new ways to imagine student learning made an indelible impact on Sonoma’s community.
Star will also be remembered for her dedication to her family. It was in Sonoma that she met John MacKay who would become her lifetime partner, husband, co-owner of MacKay’s Nursery, and father of their two daughters, Marna and Amy. She is survived by her husband and children.
Donations in her memory can be made to the Sonoma Charter School or any organization whose goal is to serve children of the Sonoma Valley.