NEW LONDON, Wis. (WBAY) - As great as he was on the football field, anyone who ever met Bart Starr acknowledges the Packers legend was an even better person off the field.
Cherry and Bart Starr hold a paddle made at the Rawhide Boys Ranch woodshop and signed by Rawhide boys and staff (photo provided)
Starr passed away Sunday in Alabama, at the age of 85, and the tributes and praise for him continue to pour in.
That includes from the people that run Rawhide Boys Ranch outside New London, where hearts are heavy.
"Last couple of days have been tough for us all. We lost a family member, and we'll never be able to repay the Starr family for what they've given to Rawhide," says Aaron Geitner, Rawhide director of vehicle donation program and marketing.
What Starr gave in 1965 was much more than just his celebrity name when he co-founded Rawhide.
He embraced the mission to help troubled youth from around the state get on the right track through love and support.
"Our goal is to get them back into society, whether it's job training or helping them with schooling, finding them a job, but the main thing that we do here is we care and love for them," says Geitner.
Geitner says over the past 54 years, Rawhide has transformed thousands and thousands of young lives and currently impacts more than 500 youth each year.
He says from day one, the Starr family pledged a lifelong commitment.
"Started with Bart and Cherry and now Bart Jr., and many times Bart Jr. brought his kids out here so their involvement with Rawhide has never wavered at all," says Geitner.
Last year, to show their appreciation, boys in the Rawhide woodshop class surprised Bart and Cherry with a wooden paddle they made and signed along with all the staff.
"And Mr. Starr, humblest man I've ever met in my life, actually made him cry, because without him Rawhide would not be here. He created that feeling of giving back, not only for him and his family, but this whole community," says Geitner.
A legacy in Wisconsin that lives on.