Winchester’s Golden Graduates, A Small Indiana Town’s Remarkable Achievement is the title of the hardback book released in 2018 by the Winchester Alumni Association. It contains the first 30 profiles of The News-Gazette’s Winchester Golden Graduate Series. The profiles in the book span nearly 100 years from 1881 to 1979. The books are available for purchase at Haines Gift Shop and Soda Fountain at a cost of $25 each. If you are interested in having a book shipped to family or friends for an additional $5, contact Pat Knasinski by email at All proceeds from the sale of the book benefit the Winchester Alumni Association Scholarship Endowment Fund.

    Today the Winchester Alumni Association continues its series of articles featuring graduates of the Winchester Schools. The purpose of the series is to inspire current students by highlighting former graduates who have made significant achievements in their personal and professional lives. There is an abundance of evidence that our local school experience has always provided the foundation for many who have gone on to excel professionally. Our graduates featured in these articles reflect great diversity in their professional accomplishments. However, each person has done something extraordinary in their lives. We describe this as the “wow” factor; that is, when you read the graduate’s story, you simply respond with “wow!”  

    Today’s Golden Graduate is Dane Starbuck, Class of 1975. Enjoy!

-Pat Knasinski

    It was a storybook basketball season. On December 28, 1974, back in the days of single class basketball in Indiana, the boys from Winchester stunned #1 ranked Hammond High School in the opener of the Huntington Holiday High School Basketball Tournament. The previously undefeated Hammond team featured 6-foot-5 Rich Valavicius, an Indiana All-Star who went on to play on Indiana University’s 1976 undefeated national NCAA championship team.

    Winchester News-Gazette sportswriter Jack Longnecker wrote: “Hammond put on a pregame warm-up that had the fans oohing and aahing, but after the opening tipoff, it was all Winchester’s show.” After defeating #1 Hammond, Winchester went on to beat Huntington North that evening to win the holiday tournament title. The surprising wins were reported on the front pages of the sports sections of most State newspapers and catapulted previously little known Winchester into the “Hoosier Hysteria” spotlight.  The team remained there for the balance of the season as the Golden Falcons racked up 15 straight wins in a row.

    For former WCHS basketball coach Pat Rady, with a Hall of Fame resume of 761 career basketball victories, “National High School Basketball Coach of the Year” in 2015, and at least one trip to the Sweet Sixteen each decade for 50 years, this team was his favorite: Dane Starbuck, Thad Abel, Mark Hummel, Ray MacMillan, David Keever, Jerry Morrison, Doug McKnight, Bob Andrews, and Bob Davis. But as wonderful as this 20-3 season was, the story I’m telling here is not about basketball. It’s about Coach Rady’s senior team leader, Dane Starbuck.

    Rady described the young Starbuck as the strongest competitor he’d ever coached, mentally a man among boys, a high school ball player who was a coach on the floor. This tremendous mental aptitude has since taken Dane Starbuck, Winchester Community High School Class of 1975, on a prestigious educational and professional journey and showcases an outstanding lifelong resume of service. Dane Starbuck is a Winchester Golden Graduate.

    Starbuck grew up in a modest home in Winchester, the son of Pete Starbuck (deceased) and Bonnie Starbuck Wright. He and his siblings, Bonita and Steve, attended White River Elementary and Driver Middle School, all three graduating from Winchester Community High School. In the summer time, Dane “lived” at Goodrich Park playing baseball, tennis, and basketball, well, except when he was mowing yards to earn extra money. After his freshman year in high school, he helped Walter Skinner, WCHS Industrial Arts teacher, start the first WCHS tennis team.  With school board approval, but no tennis courts available, their “home” matches were held in Union City at Harter Park. The first two years were difficult, but in 1974 the team won the Tri-Eastern Conference, undefeated in conference play. That was the year the WCHS tennis courts were built and Dane established a personal three-year singles percentage winning record at the number one position, a record that still stands today, later tied by WCHS graduate Gabe Tudor.

    Dane also started as a guard on the varsity basketball team for three years. The team his senior year not only defeated number one ranked Hammond, but it was undefeated at home, won the TEC conference title undefeated, and won away games against perennially strong opponents such as the New Castle Trojans and Muncie Southside Rebels. After winning the 1975 Winchester Sectional, WCHS lost in a close contest at the New Castle Regional to number three state ranked Muncie Northside led by All-State and McDonald’s All-American Sam Drummer.

    After the team’s storied season of ’74-’75, Dane was selected to the First Team Academic All-State Team by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association. Hoosier Basketball Magazine selected him as “Co-Mini Mr. Basketball,” an award given to the top player in the state who stands 5’10” or shorter, an honor which he shared with Rusty Miller of Swiss City, the state’s top scorer. Dane graduated in May 1975 where he was also President of the WCHS National Honor Society his senior year. Starting in the fall, he played basketball on a scholarship at Murray State University in western Kentucky before transferring to Huntington College where he joined Thad Abel and Mark Hummel on the basketball team and where he also played tennis.

    Dane graduated from Huntington College magna cum laude in 1978, with degrees in English and World History. While attending Huntington, he worked as a reporter for the Huntington Herald Press, owned by James Quayle, father of Dan Quayle, at that time U.S. Representative from Indiana’s 4th Congressional District. In the summer of ’78, Dane served an internship with Congressman Quayle in Washington, D.C. Dan Quayle would later become Vice-President of the United States. Through his association with Congressman Quayle, Starbuck became acquainted with and admired Dan Coats, who was Quayle’s District Representative. Coats went on to succeed Quayle as U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator and was later U.S. Ambassador to Germany. Coats now serves as U.S. Director of National Intelligence and is a member of the Trump Administration Cabinet.

    At the end of his internship in Washington, D.C., Starbuck returned to Indiana and taught English and coached tennis at Elmhurst High School in Fort Wayne for two years. Then he began working on his master’s degree at Indiana University Bloomington. He also worked for then U.S. Representative Dan Coats while completing his M.A. in the evenings. In 1984 he won a Rotary Foundation Graduate Ambassadorial Fellowship to study at the University of Melbourne, Australia, where he earned a M.A. degree with honors in English literature and language. While in Australia and the following year back home in Indiana, he spoke to more than 100 Rotary Clubs about Australian and U.S. culture, politics, and economics. In the fall of 1985, Dane began studying law at Oxford University, England, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Jurisprudence. Oxford University was established in 1096, nearly 400 years before Christopher Columbus discovered America. Dane loved living in England and interacting with fellow students who had come to study from more than 100 different countries.

    Upon his return to the U.S. in 1987, Dane enrolled at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. to pursue a Juris Doctorate degree. While a student there, he became an editor of the Georgetown Law Journal and he also went back to work for then U.S. Senator Dan Coats as his legislative assistant on the U.S. Senate Labor & Human Resources Committee. Dane worked on Capitol Hill on the Committee in which Ted Kennedy (U.S. Senator from Massachusetts) served as Chairman.  Other U.S. Senators on the Committee besides Senators Kennedy and Coats included Orin Hatch of Utah, Chris Dodd of Connecticut, Paul Simon of Illinois, Barbara McCloskey of Maryland, Strom Thurman of South Carolina, Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio, and Thad Cochran of Mississippi.

    Legislation that Dane helped with included authorization of the “Americans With Disabilities Act,” the “Thousand Points of Light” Program, reauthorization of VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), and the transportation of trash from east coast states such as New York and New Jersey to Midwest states such as Indiana under the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause. Starbuck continued to work with Senator Coats until his graduation from the Georgetown Law Center in December 1990. At that time he returned to Indiana to pass the Indiana State Bar exam. He then went to work as a law clerk to U.S. Federal District Court Judge William C. Lee in Fort Wayne. In 1993, he returned to Winchester to practice law with attorneys John Cook and Peter Haviza.

    With the focus of his life now in Indiana, Dane embarked upon researching and writing a biography of the Goodrich family of Winchester. Over the next several years, he interviewed or corresponded with more than 120 people and traveled to California, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Connecticut, New York, Washington D.C., and throughout much of Indiana doing research. The book, The Goodriches: an American Family, was published in 2001 by Liberty Fund, Inc. The family biography is primarily the story of life-long Winchester resident and Indiana Governor James P. Goodrich and his son Pierre F. Goodrich. Author Dane Starbuck wrote, “Education was a large part of the Goodriches’ work ethos... The family viewed education as a process by virtue of which the individual remained informed, made better business decisions, learned the importance of citizenship, and was given an opportunity for individual self-improvement. Therefore, work and education became the centerpieces of the Goodrich family’s ethical and practical life.” Perhaps Dane’s outstanding work on the lives of the Goodriches has been achieved because of the evidence of these same centerpieces being mirrored in his own life.

    As the years passed, Dane continued to write and to capture stories in books and publications of some of Indiana’s most important citizens. They include John Fisher, who married into the Ball Family of Muncie in 1940 and who became President, CEO, and Chairman of Ball Corporation; Hamer Shafer of Muncie, who grew Muncie Power Products into a world industrial leader in power-take-offs and hydraulics; and Christel DeHaan, co-founder of Resorts Condominiums International (RCI) and a generous philanthropist, who is one of the richest women in the United States. In addition, Starbuck has authored more than 30 briefer biographies or articles published in books, magazines, and newspapers.

    While living and practicing law in Winchester, Dane served for a time as President of the Randolph County Bar Association, President of the Winchester Rotary Club, President of the Art Association of Randolph County, and President of the Huntington College Alumni Association, where he also served on the Board of Trustees of Huntington College. He became an elder of Main Street Christian Church, got involved with the Community Concerts Series with Charles Buckley, and became a Trustee of The Winchester Foundation. He supported local education by establishing “We the People, the Citizen and the Constitution,” a program adopted by the Indiana State Bar Association to encourage the teaching of the U.S. Constitution in schools.

Through the “We the People” Program, Dane met his wife Beverly (Bev). In 1999, they married and Dane relocated to Carmel, Indiana, where he became the President and CEO of the Wishard Memorial Foundation, Inc. This foundation raises funds and awareness for the Wishard Health System, the 4th largest public health system in the Unites States. It is now known as the Eskenazi Health System. Dane remained there until 2005 when he returned to the full-time practice of law.

    Since 2004, Dane has served as a Director of Liberty Fund, Inc., one of the largest private educational foundations in the country. It was established in 1960 by Pierre F. Goodrich (another Winchester Golden Graduate). Liberty Fund holds conferences around the world and publishes books on the ideals of individual liberty and personal responsibility. Dane continues to serve as a Trustee of The Winchester Foundation and, since 1998, he has had the privilege of being a panelist to help select the “Pierre F. Goodrich Scholarship” recipient awarded annually to a top graduating senior of Winchester Community High School.

    In 2010, Dane co-founded and became President of Friends of UFM, Inc., a not-for-profit foundation that supports and raises funds for the Universidad Francisco Marroquin of Guatemala City, Guatemala. Dane describes this institution as truly one of the great universities of Latin America, offering a first class education to thousands of students, many of whom come from impoverished backgrounds. He has visited Guatemala four times to meet with faculty members and students of the University, and he recently stepped down as President of Friends of UFM to devote more time to his other obligations.

    In addition to his formal education, Dane has learned by being exposed to great world thinkers through his association with Liberty Fund, the Mont Pelerin Society (an international organization comprised of economists, political scientists, and business people), and The Philadelphia Society. Besides living in Australia and England, he has also traveled to more than 30 nations--including Russia, China, Japan, Turkey, and countries in Africa, South America, and Eastern and Western Europe--which has provided much valued broadening experiences.

    In recent years, Dane discovered and demonstrated a totally different facet of his abilities. In 2013 he released a musical CD called “Give Your Heart to Me,” featuring top Nashville, Tennessee and Indiana recording artists—all music and lyrics composed by Dane Starbuck. And this year, Dane continues to contribute to his home community by writing the history of Randolph County that will be displayed on plaques located on the Bicentennial Plaza on the south side of the Court House Square.  

    As he reflects on his former teachers and mentors in Winchester, Dane fondly remembers Bill Wilson and Ivan Flaugh in mathematics, Joe Casey and Bill Bush in English, Robert Stump in chemistry and physics, and Robert G. Jones and Dick Valandingham, great role models in administration. His favorite coaches were Gary Junco in Little League (another Winchester Golden Graduate); basketball coaches Lee Hargrave, Neil Reed, Rex Kiser, Tom Zell and Pat Rady; Bill Bush in Pony League and high school baseball; and Walter Skinner in tennis. “An athlete just couldn’t have had better coaches or leadership examples than men like Pat Rady and Bill Bush,” said Dane. The late Reverend Richard and Ilene Merriman were wonderful spiritual mentors and friends. Dane has great respect for the values, good judgment, insight and knowledge of Peter Haviza, now Randolph Superior Court Judge. Suzan Dillon Myers is also an esteemed colleague, as was the late attorney Bob Oliver.

    Dane Starbuck’s law practice demonstrates a strong interest in business law, trusts and estates, real estate, and family law, all of which he continues to practice today in Carmel and Randolph County. “I appreciate the opportunity to still represent clients, many of whom have become friends, in the Randolph County area.”

    His work ethic, learned as a young man, was demonstrated on the 11th State ranked Golden Falcon basketball team of 1974-75, and continues to this day. Dane’s life has been full of love—from his wife Beverly, his children Lora Michelle Pfiffner (deceased, 2018), Chad Welke, and Wende Westhoff, and his eight grandchildren. “I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wife and family,” Dane said. He also feels very fortunate to have been surrounded by the teachers, coaches, classmates, and teammates that he had during his formative years. “I had an almost idyllic childhood growing up in Winchester in the 1960s and early 1970s. I did not realize how special it was until many years later.”

    Dane also reflected about the WCHS basketball team that defeated number one ranked Hammond. In a 1996 interview about the team for The Muncie Star, he said, “We got the most out of our talent. We were not as talented as many of the teams we played. But we played our roles very well.” Dane Starbuck has assumed an incredible number of important roles throughout his life, and he has played each one very well. He “got the most out of his talent!” Dane Starbuck is a Winchester Golden Graduate who’s gone from Classmate to Class Act.

    EDITOR’S NOTE: Pat Knasinski is a life-long resident of Winchester, graduate of Driver High School, Indiana University Bloomington, and Ball State University. She retired as WCHS Spanish teacher in 2005 and now serves the Winchester Alumni Association by advancing the Golden Graduate Project and by serving on the Winchester Alumni Scholarship Endowment Fund Committee. If you have comments or questions about this series of articles or know of other Winchester graduates who should be included in this series, please email her at