Agape Flights founder Keith Starkey passes away


Keith StarkeyKeith Conrad Starkey, 87, of Bradenton, Florida, passed away April 23, 2014.

Keith was born March 29, 1927 in Tiffin, Ohio, to the late Melvin R. and Herma M. (Conrad) Starkey. He moved to Bradenton in 1970, coming from Tiffin where he worked as a farmer for many years.

His memberships include the First Baptist Church of Bradenton where he was active in Sunday School and Mission Ministry. He was also a former member of Men for Missions and OMS, and was honored to be named a Kentucky Colonel.

Keith and his wife, Clara, founded Agape Flights in October of 1980. Agape Flights operated from Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport for many years before moving to Venice Municipal Airport in 2006. The Starkeys carried all types of supplies, mail and cargo for many missionaries working in the Caribbean with weekly flights there, as well as providing humanitarian aid following hurricanes and earthquakes that have hit the islands over the years.

Keith was predeceased by his sister, Helen Widmer, and is survived by his loving wife of 50 years, Clara of Bradenton, daughter, Nancy Snow of Bradenton, three sons; Bruce (Deb) Geary of Bloomville, Ohio, Lee Geary of New Riegel, Ohio, Don (Lynne) Geary of Tiffin, Ohio, seven grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and many extended brothers and sisters in Christ.

A celebration of Keith’s life will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 3, 2014 in the main sanctuary of the First Baptist Church of Bradenton, 1306 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers that memorials be made to Agape Flights Endowment Fund, 100 Airport Ave., Venice, Florida 34285 or online at, or to Tidewell Hospice, 5955 Rand Blvd., Sarasota, Florida 34238 in his memory.

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  2. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  3. Our deepest sympathies. The legacy of Keith Starkey will live on for years to come through the thousands of lives whom he and Clara have touched through their ministry to Haiti.

    We fondly remember those humble beginnings with the one tiny plane and having to clear our own boxes through Customs at the airport each week. Those were precious times and we were so grateful that someone was able to provide such a needed service to support all of us here.

    Keith’s humor was special. At one Agape Picnic he shared with us how well our packages are taken care of, particularly when marked “FRAGILE” and promptly kicked a little box off the platform – much to everyone’s amused horror. We knew that Agape always did their best to get our things to us quickly, and safely and sometimes damage was unavoidable but never intentional.

    Who would have thought that these folks would retire from farming in Ohio to Florida and take up another full time job for decades helping get us all mail, packages, and emergency supplies to make our lives so much better?

    The Starkey’s are incredible people and we will always hold both of them in the highest regard close to our hearts.

    A Dieu Keith! I can almost hear the words now…”Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of your Lord.”

  4. Dear Clara … There is not a man we know that displayed ‘happiness’ better than Keith! Always an incredible smile and of course “something funny” to follow up! Not to say there was not a ‘serious side’… his love for the Lord and for you Clara, was so evident and NO ‘laughing’ matter… He definitely was NOT shy about how much he loved you (and Jesus!)
    You both have always been very special to our entire family and we have many special memories of those ‘early’ Agape Flights Days. Butch can recount those East Coast trips with Keith to this day… fond AND funny memories for sure!
    We will all miss Keith…. but we know we will see him again one day… and I can’t help but think he and John, along with other friends and family are enjoying REAL life now.
    Much love & prayers.. Butch & Debi

  5. Clara, What a joy iit was to be asked to speak at Keith’s home going celebration. Our lives have been blessed just to have known you and Keith and the great ministry that God gave you, not only with the plane ministry but the joy that you and he brought into so many lives by you love that you gave. A great man of God and a man of faith, he will always be remember as Mr. Agape to all of us. God’s blessing to you.
    John & Joyce Hanson

  6. Prit and I have served as missionaries to Haiti for 31 years. When we first moved to Port-au-Prince, we learned of Agape Flights through fellow missionaries. We have been using their service all the years that we’ve been on the mission field. We had the privilege of meeting Keith and Clara in our earlier years. What a privilege to have known a couple of such high caliber!

    Keith, we salute you and remember your legacy. Thank you so much for obeying the call and providing an invaluable service to Haiti and its missionaries. Clara, we are so very sorry for your loss and pray the Lord’s comfort be with you. Prit lost his dad just recently (March 15). He was such an example to his family that his shoes will be hard to fill. We know both Prit’s dad and Keith Starkey will be hard acts to follow. We will never forget you Keith and your dedication to the Lord.

  7. We were touched by our Bro Keith’s homegoing, but rejoice in the assurance that he will receive a hearty, ‘Well done!’ from our Lord and Savior.
    We pray for Clara’s strength as she mourns this ‘necessary’ but temporary separation.
    We offer our deepest sympathies to the Starkey family during this time of loss. Our prayers are with you.

  8. We were touched by the news of our brother’s homegoing. But we rejoice in the knowledge that he will surely receive a hearty, “Well done!!!”, from our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. Our dear Sis Clara will be in our hearts and prayers for her courage in the Lord as she suffers the loss of such a dear companion.
    We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Starkey family. May they rejoice in the knowledge that Bro. Starkey’s life was not in vain. Many are the lives that have been touched by his and Clara’s generosity through Agape Flight’s ministry.

  9. The passion he (with Clara) had for Christ and for missions is a wonderful legacy – and that passion worked itself out in practical, caring, compassionate ways that continue to make a difference. An honor to know him.
    Larry Edison,
    Palmetto, Florida

  10. On behalf of the Missions Team and the congregation of Christ United Methodist Church of Venice, FL we offer condolences to the Starkey family and thoughts of deep gratitude for Keith and his ministries to so many people. We will continue to give Agape Flights the support in prayers and offering which it so richly deserves.

  11. Clara, our prayers and sympathy are with you and your family. You and Keith have blessed so many people through Agape Flights. I am sure Keith heard “Well done my good and faithful servant” when Jesus welcomed him home. May God Bless and Comfort you at this difficult time.

  12. To the family and co-workers,
    I did not know Keith but I am in awe of what he accomplished and I know the others at Agape will continue to do his work in the name of Jesus Christ.

    Sharon Maga

  13. Dear Clara and family,

    You have our deepest sympathies at this difficult time of loss. We pray that you be filled with His peace and find comfort in knowing that brother Keith is in the presence of the Savior, rejoicing even now.

  14. Phyllis and I have heavy hearts today as we remember our precious moments with the Starkeys. Their great faith is a constant reminder of the incredible love that our God has for His people. What a joy it was to be with them in First Baptist and at Agape. May the soothing hand of our great God bring His peace to all who mourn today. May Keith’s great work with the peoples of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and other countries continue to grow and serve as a memorial to this fine couple.

  15. Dear Clara and Starkey family,
    We are deeply sorry to hear about the death of “Keith” on Wednesday, April 23. It’s really painful for the family but believe that God is always there to reconfort you all. Please accept our most heartfelt sympathies for your loss…our thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.
    Clara, we are praying for you and may your heart and soul find peace and comfort!
    Michael & Barbara

  16. Clara, it makes us sad when our love ones are gone. But, we should be rejoicing when we know they go straight to the Lord. Be strong as you’re facing this moment. We are praying!

  17. Clara, we were so sad to hear of Keith’s passing. I’m sure he and Bill are having quite a chat and catching up on past news! Bill and I were always so blessed to be a part of the Agape Family and to fly so many missions for Agape. Keith always had a smile and a story to tell us that made us laugh. He will surely be missed. Our lives were definitely enriched by knowing the both of you. Our prayers and thoughts are with you Clara for God’s strength and peace. May He give you His comfort to help you in the days and weeks ahead. Our love to you, Robbie and Mika

  18. Clara, my deepest sympathies to you. What an amazing person you are and how you have blessed so many. My heart goes out to you. Praying the Lord will give you His strength during this difficult time.

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