Singer, songwriter and radio and television personality Buddy Starcher died Friday (Nov. 2) at a nursing home in Harrisonburg, Va. He was 95. Starcher had two national country hits, both with his own compositions: “I’ll Still Write Your Name in the Sand,” which went to No. 8 in 1949 on the 4 Star label, and “History Repeats Itself,” which rose to No. 2 in 1966 on Boone Records. The latter compared the similarities between the deaths of presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.
Fans of the late Keith Whitley may recognize Starcher’s name from the 1991 RCA album Kentucky Bluebird. The opening cut of the album features an undated segment taken from Starcher’s popular morning show on WCHS-TV, Charleston, W. Va., in which the seven- or eight-year-old Whitley sings “You Win Again.” Starcher himself introduces Whitley.
Oby Edgar Starcher was born March 16, 1906, near Ripley, W. Va. He learned to play guitar under the tutelage of his father, an old-time fiddler. Starcher took his first job as a radio performer in 1928 at station WFBR in Baltimore. He began writing his own songs — often about current events — and over the next several years worked at stations in Washington, D. C., North Carolina, Virginia, Iowa, Pennsylvania and his home state. Red Sovine, a fellow West Virginian, counted Starcher as one of his influences, as did such other entertainers as Mac Wiseman , Lee Moore, Sleepy Jeffers and Smiley Sutter.
In the early 1950s, Starcher turned from radio to television, working at outlets in Miami and Harrisonburg. His show on WCHS-TV ran from 1960 to 1966. Following the success of “History Repeats Itself,” Starcher moved briefly to Nashville and then on to television work in Florida, New York and Texas. He retired in 1976, intially settling near Craigsville, W. Va., and then moving back to Harrisonburg in 1993.
Historian Ivan Tribe notes that despite Starcher’s prominence in radio, he did not begin recording until 1946, when he affiliated with 4 Star. Among the other labels he recorded for were Columbia, Deluxe, Starday, Boone and Bear Family. The artist’s life story, written by Robert Cagle and aptly titled Buddy Starcher Biography, was published in 1986.
Starcher is survived by his wife of 55 years, Mary Ann, a stepson and a sister. He was buried at Eastlawn Memorial Gardens in Harrisonburg.