Life of Fox 2 meteorologist Jessica Starr celebrated in Novi

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
The program for the celebration of  life service for Fox 2 meteorologist Jessica Starr on Saturday, December 29, 2018 at the Oak Pointe Church in Novi.

Novi — Friends and family filled the Oak Pointe Church on Saturday to remember and celebrate the life of Fox 2 meteorologist Jessica Starr. 

The 35-year-old Novi resident committed suicide on Dec. 12, leaving behind her husband, Dan, and two young children, Noah, 5, and Riley Rose, 3.

Chuck Gaidica, former Director of Meteorology at WDIV (Channel 4) for 27-years and mentor of Starr, welcomed visitors at the service asking “How could you not love Jessica Starr?” 

“She started at Local 4, worked hard and was always asking us questions,” Gaidica said. “She was packing in a lot in a short period of time. She left us and we all knew she’d be a star... When she came back home to Detroit I said ‘The kid done good.’ “ 

For the last eight years, on WJBK-TV (Fox 2), Starr delivered the local weather and co-anchored “The Nine” morning show.

Her colleagues, Derek Kevra and Roop Raj shared their memories through tributes as well as her uncle and godfather Paul Digby. 

"With Jess, it was all about her kids and thank God she was good at it because I asked her for a lot of advice," said Kevra, Fox 2 meteorologist. "... She was honest and she was real, but also kind and giving. Often playing the Fox 2 therapist as people would come in and out of the weather office to talk about their daily problems. They would leave feeling better because she would take the time to listen."

Raj said he thought of Starr as a sister and it was a privilege to be her friend.

"There has been a lot of reflection in the last three weeks, how did it end, when did it end and why didn't we have more time?" Raj said. "But instead of staying in that moment, I choose to give thanks for the eight years we had with Jessica Starr because she was an incredible gift to this community."

Fox 2 Detroit reporter Amy Andrews gets a hug during a celebration of life service for Jessica Starr. Fox 2 reporter Tayrn Asher stands next to them

Raj read off thoughts of Starr’s immediate family and other coworkers who chose not to speak at the celebration. 

Her brother, Ryan Starr told Raj, "Her laugh was infectious, her smile was profound. She never took herself too seriously and would tell me people can get the weather on their phone now, but people did need her because you can't get your local weather any better way than from someone like Jess. This loss will leave a hole in my heart forever but my life is much better now because of her. I always looked out for my sister and protected her as much as I could."

Raj relayed words from Starr's mother, Carol Starr, saying she was "blessed to be her mother."

"We miss her, I miss her. Her bright beautiful smile and funny laugh will live on forever in our hearts," she said. "She put sunshine in my life. I'm not a weather forecaster or meteorologist, I know the forecast today is dreary, dark and sad, but I know that when the sun comes back out again and you see it shining through the clouds, each and every one of us will look up and say we are glad we knew the warmth of Jessica."

A special rendition of “Ave Maria” sung by friend Nancy Stoddard alongside video montages and photos of Starr brought tears to those who loved her. 

Starr's uncle and godfather Paul Digby represented the family at the service saying they are all begging to "know why Jessica wasn't allowed to complete her circle of life."

"... I remember her birth announcement, 'A Starr is born,' " Digby said. "... On her days off, she'd go to her favorite grocery store and people would come up to her and say 'Are you Jessica Starr?' Sometimes she'd say yes, other times no. It was her desire to be average, but we know she was far from average."

Digby said the family is still in shock but will persevere through hope. 

"Most of us are still on the why's and what if's. How did she get to this point? How did we all not see this coming? Did we miss the signs? This was so out of character for someone I've known for 35 years," he said. "How do we turn this page on darkness? I think it begins with hope." 

Gaidica led a closing prayer. 

The Starr family asks that donations be made to the “The Family of Jessica Starr Memorial Fund" and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at (800) 273-8255.
Twitter: @SarahRahal_