Jeremiah “Jere” Pelletier Starling ’60

Jeremiah (Jere) Pelletier Starling, 85, of Raleigh, North Carolina, passed away on Saturday, January 13, 2024. He was born on August 17, 1938 to Samuel Foscue Starling and Dolly Bruce Pelletier Starling and grew up in Hubert, NC. Jere was well known for his love of family, literature, and music.

Following his undergraduate years at Davidson College, where he earned an A.B. in English Literature in 1960, Jere completed his M.A. in English Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and studied at Edinburgh University as a Rotary International Fellow. He then returned to Chapel Hill to complete his Ph.D. in English Language and Literature at the University of North Carolina in 1968.

Jere began his career teaching in the English Department at the University of Louisville, where he held multiple leadership positions for more than 20 years. A life-long love and deep knowledge of 18th, 19th and 20th century literature led to his involvement with several literary and academic societies and publications, both in Louisville and nationally. Jere served on the Board of Directors of the Keats-Shelley Association and as a Delegate to the Modern Language Association. In 1987, he returned to his home state of North Carolina, where he taught at North Carolina Wesleyan College before joining the faculty at Duke University.

Jere taught Leadership Communication for more than 20 years at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, where he was admired for his work ethic and attention to detail across all departments, from admissions to alumni. In the Management Communication Department, he masterfully navigated multiple duties and made it look easy. Jere’s passion about his subject matter was contagious and sparked his most important legacy: the mutual respect and joy that he shared with his students. Many of them beamed when they talked about him and frequently came back to visit, from all corners of the globe, year after year. Jere’s colleagues and students remember him as a true Southern gentleman with sartorial flare, eloquence in words, and utmost integrity. His light will live on in the thousands of kind, compassionate, and competent leaders across the world whom he influenced and continues to inspire.

A skilled raconteur, Jere loved researching and telling stories about his family’s long history in North Carolina, bringing the many colorful ancestral characters to life. He enjoyed garden design, classic French cooking, playing the harpsichord, and was a voluminous reader. Every Christmas Eve, Jere could be found whipping up his infamous Yorkshire pudding for as many family members as he could fit around the dining room table.

Jere was also deeply committed to the arts, serving on the Boards of the Louisville Orchestra, the Kentucky Opera, the Kentucky Center for the Arts, the Louisville Chamber Music Society, and Macaulay Theater. In addition, he was a member of the Metropolitan Opera National Council.

Jere is survived by his husband and partner of 35 years, John Rudnicki Adams; his former spouse, Marjorie Starling, and their children, Sarah (Elfranko Wessels) and David (April); his treasured granddaughters, Georgia Wessels, Eyler and Stella Starling; his sister-in-law, Mary Starling; his brother-in-law, Earl McIlwean; his nieces and nephew, Zoe Starling, Anna Schweigman, and William McIlwean; and by many devoted and loving cousins. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his sister, Jeanette McIlwean; his brother Sampson (Sam) Starling; and his nephew Jere Francis McIlwean.

A service will be held for Jere on Friday, January 19, at 10:30 am at Christ Church, 120 E. Edenton Street, Raleigh. The family will have a private burial at Queen’s Creek in Hubert at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to Duke Cancer Institute (Development Office, 300 West Morgan St., Suite 1000, Durham, NC 27701 or; Carolina Ballet (3030 Stony Brook Dr., Raleigh, NC 27604 or; or Saving Grace Animals for Adoption (P.O. Box 1649, Wake Forest, NC 27588 or