Page 22 - FIS World November 2021
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Farewell to a Friend
Remembering the legacy of our colleague and friend, Bill Starns
  Bill Starns, wise mentor, cherished colleague and friend to many
Retired FIS Counselor Bill Starns often shared with colleagues that he came to Germany with a
plan to stay for two years, but instead stayed for 25. The vibrant Mr. Starns, who impacted the lives of so many within FIS and beyond, passed away on 23 June 2020, following a short illness.
Originally from Southern California, Bill arrived at FIS in August 1985 from a school in the Dominican Republic as a last-minute hire for a fledgling counseling department. A long-time colleague and friend
of Bill’s, FIS Upper School Counselor, Jessica Angelidis said,“While he had no original plans of settling here, he felt so comfortable that he couldn't help but call FIS (and Bad Homburg) his home. How lucky for us that he did."
Bill was one of the school’s first Upper School counselors and for many years, worked as the only counselor at FIS before an ever-increasing number of students required hiring additional staff to support them. For nearly three decades at FIS and well into his retirement, Bill contributed greatly to expanding the counseling services at the school. With his unwavering support and keen sense of humor, he ensured that the counseling department was always a highly collaborative team – and a fun one to be a part of, too. “His breadth of knowledge, level of professionalism, dedication to all, and amazing work ethic was incredible,” said Elementary School Counselor, Sabrina Mercer. “Bill was always there for us with his helping hand and wonderful advice.”
According to colleagues, Bill also had an uncanny ability to bring people together for a greater good. Whether connecting a student with an activity he knew they would thrive in or introducing colleagues he knew would become fast friends, Bill had a sixth sense for building positive relationships. “His propensity to mentor and genuine care for others proved to be his hallmark – character traits that made a difference to so many people’s lives, including my own,” said Ms. Angelidis.
Bill wasn’t just valued as an expert in the field of counseling within FIS. He regularly offered his help to counselors at other schools, including acting as a mentor to those newer to the field.
But most importantly, in addition to his meaningful connections with colleagues, Bill touched the lives of thousands of students over the course of his career, thoughtfully guiding them into their post-FIS endeavors and beyond. He had a huge collection of postcards that hung on his office wall from students thanking him for helping them reach their post- graduation goals. As Dr. Fochtman said, “Bill was passionate about meeting the needs of his students. He was the ultimate advocate for our students, constantly looking for the best doorway or the best fit for them.”
“Bill was so many things to so many people. A good, generous friend.”
- Clive Fenner
Bill genuinely cared for his colleagues and students and invested in their well-being, long after they had left FIS. FIS Alumna Dinesha Mendis ‘99 posted on social media after learning of Bill’s passing:“The day I met Bill was a lucky one and I wanted to be his student forever. Our friendship lasted 25 years. I feel both his acute absence and presence today. All I can do is pass on his love and guidance.”
Others echo that sentiment. During a celebration of life for Bill on the FIS campus, retired FIS faculty member Clive Fenner said: “Bill was so many things to so many people. A good, generous friend.”
At FIS and beyond, Bill was loved, cherished and admired. And although he may be gone, the incredible impact his legacy leaves for so many of his students, colleagues and friends lives on. For that, we are thankful.
Story contributions by Jessica Angelids, Cliver Fenner and Sabrina Mercer
 20 FIS World November 2021

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