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The long wave goodbye: First Nation mourns death of highway greeter
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 1, 2007 | 11:07 AM CT
A man who spread warmth and welcome to passersby on a busy Manitoba highway for more than two decades has died.
Nelson Starr, 71, passed away on Monday.
Nelson and James Starr stationed themselves most days on the side of Highway 59, waving to people driving by the Brokenhead First Nation. Nelson and James Starr stationed themselves most days on the side of Highway 59, waving to people driving by the Brokenhead First Nation.
Starr and his younger brother, James, stationed themselves most days on the side of Highway 59 at the Brokenhead First Nation, waving to people driving from Winnipeg to popular beach communities on the east side of Lake Winnipeg.
It was a gesture that earned the brothers recognition far and wide.
Brokenhead Coun. Paul Chief said the Starr brothers became ambassadors for the First Nation.
"I've jumped on planes to Toronto, Vancouver, St. John's, and as soon as I mention that I'm from Brokenhead, Nelson and James were always mentioned," he said.
"It was kind of ironic that he was known all over the world, all over Canada, just by being out there and waving to the passengers going by to the beach."
The two men spent so much time waving from the side of the highway, they wore a trail into the ground where they stood, Chief said. He recalled the beginning of the waving tradition in the 1980s.
"I asked Nelson and one day he just took it upon himself," Chief said.
"He said he was standing by the side of the road waiting to cross, and he waved. And he got a wave back and a honk. And he said that he stood there for a little while doing it, and he said ever since then, he just kept doing it."
Motorists often responded to the brothers' cheerful wave, Chief said. Over the years, several dropped off hats, T-shirts and food.
On the popular social networking website Facebook, more than 800 people had joined a group dedicated to the waving brothers. Many members posted memorial comments on the site Wednesday, praising Starr as a "Manitoba icon."
Starr's death has been difficult for the entire community, Chief said. A funeral service is planned for Friday.
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story … other.html