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D. Starsia, WWII vet, NYPD driver, dead at 86

When she was a teenager, Christine Gill watched the stream of officials and dignitaries traveling to Yankee Stadium with Pope Paul VI's vehicle procession in 1965.

At the very front of the line was her father, Dominic Starsia Jr., driving the New York Police Department's lead car.

"I remember being with all the kids waiting for the pope, and there went my father," said Gill, of Medford, N.J.

Starsia, a former NYPD police officer who lived in Valley Stream for many years, died from complications of cancer Friday at age 86 at the Charlottesville, Va., home of his son Dominic, the head men's lacrosse coach for the University of Virginia.

Starsia grew up in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, graduated from Newtown High School and served in the Army as a forward observer during World War II. He joined the police force after returning from combat in Europe, and for 20 years he served as a driver to various deputy commissioners. He retired in 1969.

He married Margaret Graham in 1940, and they raised six children in Valley Stream. Graham died in 1979.

Using skills he learned from his father, Dominic Sr., Starsia also worked as a sign painter, Gill said. "There are still signs in Valley Stream and Laurelton that he painted," she said.

Starsia's son Richard remembered his dad as a dedicated fan of his children's athletic endeavors, traveling to attend games.

"He's been a real enthusiastic supporter for all of us," said Richard Starsia, of Rockville Centre. He recalled his father's attendance at his Princeton basketball games and his brother Dominic's lacrosse games at Brown University in Providence. "We were all athletes," he said.

Starsia moved to Virginia in 1998 and instantly became a fixture at the UVA lacrosse games that his son coached.

Starsia's funeral is 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre, with burial at the Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury.

He also leaves his companion, Rita Sochor; sons Dominic and Gerald of Charlottesville, Timothy, 46, of Katonah, N.Y.; daughter Mary Beth Nevelik of Bellmore; 15 grandchildren and five great-grandsons.

The family asks that donations be sent to the Starsia Student Athlete Fund at the McIntire School of Commerce, attn. Michael Clark, P.O. Box 400173, Charlottesville, VA 22904.

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