If Rebecca Had a Life
If Rebecca Had a Life
A Reader’s Guide to Some of the Errors, Misrepresentations and Unfounded Allegations in If the Devil Had a Wife by Frank Mills
Rebecca Nugent — who says she is actually the author of the book If the Devil Had a Wife — describes it as both “fact” and “opinion” and acknowledges (page v) that it is “based on documentation and narratives of true events and characters who may have been slightly modified in order to concisely tell the story.”
Obviously, an author’s “modification” of events and characters in and of itself demonstrates that a story has been exaggerated, embellished or otherwise fictionalized. If events and characters have been changed, altered or modified, then a story is not a true story.
This is the case for If the Devil Had a Wife.
By understanding Ms. Nugent’s background, readers may recognize this book as another in a series of attacks she and some of her family have directed at the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation – a charitable organization that has benefited the Orange, Texas community for nearly 50 years.
Indeed, for a period of nearly two decades, Ms. Nugent and others in her family pursued litigation against Nelda Stark and the Foundation, involving claims concerning estates and assets long past distributed. Although such claims were previously resolved and adjudicated by the courts, the author appears discontent with the fact that her father, Homer Stark, did not receive more of the wealth of his adopted father, Lutcher Stark, and that Lutcher Stark instead willed substantial assets to the Stark Foundation for the benefit of the greater community.
The author herself acknowledges a fixation on her father’s “history” (i.e., perceived birthright) by describing in the book “…the mountain of boxes and stacks of documents that seemed to occupy every waking moment the last several years.” (Page 279). Ms. Nugent is now trying to use the book to make a case in the court of public opinion that she could not prove in a court of law.
Indeed, instead of moving on from contentions of years past and claims previously resolved, the author remains obsessed with making further allegations involving the Stark Foundation and its founders based on nothing more than a misguided sense of entitlement.
This responsive document would not exist If Rebecca Had a Life.
It is one thing to distort history; it is another thing to make it up altogether. For this reason, we have reviewed this book and are presenting the facts as we know them:
1. The Book: Page v: "With the help of her life partner and an attorney…, Nelda Stark executes a devious plan that elevates fraud, theft, and grand larceny to a new high."
RESPONSE: Despite litigation by the author and some of her family, the courts never found that Nelda Stark executed or made any so-called “devious plan” with or without the help of an attorney.
Those who knew her knew that Nelda Stark was honest and ethical in her financial dealings. Lutcher Stark, Nelda’s husband and life partner, was one of Texas’ leading citizens and was never found to have engaged in fraud or any other criminal activities, nor did he help his wife with any plan that involved fraud.
This accusation — made by children of the adopted sons of Lutcher Stark in an attempt to justify their exclusion (in a series of Last Wills and Testaments) from much of the financial assets of Lutcher Stark, Nelda Stark and/or the Stark Foundation – was rejected by courts in multiple venues.
2. The Book: Page v.: “…[The reader] will unravel a tale based on documentation and narratives of true events and characters who may have been slightly modified in order to concisely tell the story.”
RESPONSE: An author’s “modification” of events and characters in and of itself demonstrates that a story has been exaggerated, embellished or otherwise fictionalized.
One cannot “concisely” tell a “true” story by “modifying” (i.e., altering) events and characters. If events and characters have been changed, altered or modified, then a story is nothing more than a work of fiction. And this is the case for the story If the Devil had a Wife, as the author herself concedes on page v.
3. The Book: Page vi: “Of special help were…Dr. Jan Todd and Dr. Terry Todd, co-directors of the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports; Orange Public Library; Texas Woman’s University Library…”
RESPONSE: Some may think that these acknowledgements in the Mills book mean the named individuals and institutions actively worked with and provided support to the author as she crafted her tale. This is not so.
While the libraries may have served as public venues visited by the author as she conducted her “family history research”, we have been told that none of them endorsed or were even aware that the author planned to write this tale. The author’s inclusion of a laundry list of institutions that she may have visited or contacted is nothing more than an attempt to give credibility to her tale.
Texas Woman’s University (TWU): The author did visit Ann Barton, a staff member of the TWU Library. Ms. Barton said that the author was looking for anything that might tie Nelda Childers and Eunice Robinson together. There was nothing whatsoever related to such an interest.
Ms. Barton noted that minutes of Board of Regents meetings were in the archives, but that the author was not interested in any material that might highlight the accomplishments of either Nelda Childers or Eunice Robinson. Instead, according to Ms. Barton, the author seemed only interested in “dirt” and, having found none, she left.
STARK CENTER: Similarly, while the author did communicate on several occasions with Drs. Jan and Terry Todd, UT professors and directors of the new Stark Center at UT, such communication concerned information on the early history of physical culture sought by the author for her book (pages 19-20; 27**) as well as historical information and memorabilia relating to sports and physical culture sought by the professors for the Center from the family of Homer Stark.
Specifically, the Todds report that, during discussions with them about possible loans or gifts from the author to the Stark Center, they told her what they knew about how Lutcher, shortly after he graduated from UT in 1910, went to Philadelphia to take a course in weight training and came back to Texas stronger, lighter, and more fit and then became the friend and weight-training partner of Theo Bellmont, UT’s Director of Athletics. The Todds had little other specific knowledge of Lutcher Stark’s life. The author explained that she was working on a book about Lutcher Stark and about the Stark family, but did no research in the Stark Center’s library.
The professors said they were under the impression from the first meetings with her that the book would not personally attack Lutcher Stark.
The further truth is that the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation – the same organization disparaged in the book – is the primary funder of the prestigious Stark Center at The University of Texas, having granted more than $5.5 million for the construction of the Center, together with a long-term loan of numerous artifacts, art and other objects depicting the life of Lutcher Stark. This information can be verified in the Foundation’s Form 990-PF that is publicly available or by contacting the UT Stark Center directly for more information.
4. The Book: Page 4: "…Nelda, Lutcher’s third wife, never liked the altitude [at the Starks’ Colorado ranch] and always had an excuse to cut those trips short."
RESPONSE: Nelda and Lutcher Stark’s travels to their Colorado ranch (known as “Roslyn Ranch”) usually lasted 10 days – two weeks. Lutcher Stark smoked heavily and had breathing problems, along with heart trouble, which was difficult to manage at such high altitudes. Nelda Stark preferred only brief trips, regardless of the destination.
5. The Book: Page 4: "Rumor around Orange was she [Nelda Stark] liked to keep a close eye on Lutcher’s money."
RESPONSE: Lutcher Stark, recognizing his wife’s keen mind and management skills, had turned much of the management of the couple’s assets over to Nelda. Friends knew she had a much more conservative nature than did Lutcher Stark, and there were always business items waiting for signatures. She held a strong sense of responsibility about her duties.
The bottom line is that Nelda and Lutcher Stark were a wealthy couple, and one does not become wealthy and remain wealthy by careless financial practices and frivolous spending. It goes without saying that wealthy people are a constant target of rumors simply because of the human nature of envy, and Mr. and Mrs. Lutcher Stark were (and remain) no exception to this.
6. The Book: Page 4: "…her friend, Eunice Benckenstein — a constant presence in and out of town –, was always with them [the Starks]."
RESPONSE: While Eunice Robinson Benckenstein was a close friend of both Lutcher and Nelda Stark, she was not a “constant presence,” as those well-acquainted with the Starks recall.
According to her niece, Anita Cowan, Eunice Benckenstein traveled to more than 30 countries with other friends, and she always had Christmas and a summer holiday with her Robinson relatives in both Texas and Oklahoma. (Her mother lived in Oklahoma until her death in October 1959.) Ms. Cowan further noted that Eunice frequently visited with Benckenstein relatives in Texas and Louisiana, and because Eunice served on the boards of civic, religious, and corporate organizations, she was frequently away for those meetings on her own accord.
7. The Book: Page 5: "…Lutcher seemed to be getting worse instead of improving despite state of the art medical treatment."
RESPONSE: As he aged, Lutcher Stark had multiple chronic health issues including arthritis, heart problems, arteriosclerosis, pre-diabetes, emphysema, and bronchitis, among others. In the last few years of his life, not only was Lutcher Stark elderly (in his late 70s), but he was in poor health.
He died at the age of 77 years as a result of heart disease (with other contributing factors) after a nearly three-month hospitalization at the University of Texas Medical Branch Hospital (UTMB) in Galveston following a heart attack. See death certificate of Lutcher Stark under “Documents.”
Note: It is a fact of life that most people who are of advanced age and in poor health worsen instead of improve. And one should keep in mind that any “state of the art medical treatment” that may have existed at the time of Lutcher Stark’s hospitalization and death in 1965 does not even begin to compare to state of the art medical treatment that is available today. Man had not even walked on the moon at that point in history, much less invented specialized medical procedures that are now considered routine.
8. The Book: Page 5: "…Eunice simply positioned herself near father and son, fixing her beady eyes on Lutcher, somehow influencing what he wanted to say."
RESPONSE: Friends and colleagues knew Lutcher Stark as an independent, authoritative individual who freely spoke his mind all of his life. If Lutcher Stark had wanted to speak with his adopted son, Homer, (or anyone else for that matter), he did so.
Furthermore, the author does not mention that Homer Stark maintained a cordial relationship with Eunice Benckenstein, even to the end of their respective lives. Just months before he died, Homer came to Eunice’s front door and wished her a Merry Christmas (2007).
9. The Book:
(a) Page 7: “Adopted when he was only three months old, Homer always felt indebted to his parents – Lutcher and his first wife, Nita – for providing such an ideal life and considered himself fortunate to have been chosen as their son.”
RESPONSE: The fact that Homer was adopted by Lutcher and Nita Stark is true, although he was not legally adopted until March 1925, when he was nearly two years old. See Item 33 below.
In fact, he and his twin brother, Bill, were born in Virginia to a single woman named Bertie Mills who gave them the birth names of “Frank and William Mills.” As was the case with the five other babies previously borne by her, Ms. Mills was ultimately not able to provide proper care to the infant twins and, at approximately five months of age, the babies were the subject of a proceeding in a juvenile court in Radford, Virginia, in which the judge committed them to the Virginia State Board of Public Welfare.
In a subsequent proceeding, the guardianship of the Mills twins was committed to the Children’s Home Society of Virginia. (Note: Bertie Mills’ five other children had also each been committed to the Children’s Home Society of Virginia at different times over the period 1911-1923.)
The twins were ultimately adopted from the Children’s Home Society of Virginia by Lutcher and Nita Stark after a “baby finder” – a Mrs. DeVault — retained by the Starks located the twins in the Virginia Children’s Home and brought them to her facility in Tennessee for consideration by the Starks. See “Mills Twins” tab for more information.
It is also true that Homer Stark was given an “ideal life” and was “fortunate” to have been chosen as the adopted son of Lutcher Stark. Homer himself acknowledged in his deposition testimony in the 1988 lawsuit that Lutcher Stark “…picked my brother and I up out of an orphan’s home and he gave us a life that’s a lot better than I had ever expected, and I just made up my mind way back there that I wasn’t going to…drag his name through all of these papers and everything which is just what would happen if we’d ever file a suit…and I just, I really just didn’t want to do it.”
But, ultimately, Homer and his children did file suit. Do you believe that Homer indeed felt “indebted” to Lutcher, considering the manner in which he and his children challenged the choice Lutcher made to leave much of his wealth to a charitable organization and then sued his father’s widow, Nelda, accusing her of fraud and conversion?
(b) Page 7: "It didn’t surprise [Homer] to learn that Bill was at the Sunset Grove Country Club, playing an “emergency nine" as they called it.
RESPONSE: It is true that Bill was typically found at the Country Club, where he was the golf pro. He and his wife, Ida Marie, spent much of their lives at the Sunset Grove Country Club in Orange.
10. The Book: Page 8: "[Phenobarbital is] not poison in the usual sense, but an extremely strong psychotic drug to control one’s mind…"
RESPONSE: Phenobarbital is the oldest antiepileptic drug in common use, according to The Epilepsy Foundation.
It was also commonly used in the 20th century as a mild sedative as well as a treatment for insomnia.
The Physicians’ Desk Reference states that it is used as a sleep aid as well as in the treatment of certain types of epilepsy.
Lutcher Stark’s doctors prescribed Phenobarbital to him beginning as early as the mid 1950s. See Lutcher Stark’s medical records under “Documents” tab.
11. The Book: Page 11-12: “The following morning, Lutcher Stark was buried. Less than 20 hours had passed since his death…”
RESPONSE: Lutcher Stark was not buried “the following morning,” nor was he buried less than 20 hours after his death.
Lutcher Stark died on Thursday, September 2, 1965 at 1:20 pm. His funeral was scheduled and held Friday, September 3, 1965 at 5:00 pm. Burial followed the funeral service. Both the funeral service and subsequent burial occurred on the evening of the day after his death.
Such scheduling was a direct result of the date/timing of Lutcher’s death. A September 1965 calendar reveals that the weekend after Lutcher’s death on Thursday was Labor Day weekend, with Labor Day itself on Monday, September 6, 1965, a federal holiday.
The funeral was not scheduled during the weekend or Monday after Lutcher’s death, since many people had plans to be on holiday/vacation during that period and would be unable to attend. The option was to have the funeral on Friday, September 3, 1965 or else delay Lutcher’s funeral for nearly one week until the Tuesday or Wednesday after his death.
There was no reason to delay the funeral. There is no minimum time requirement that must elapse between a person’s death and that person’s funeral service, which has been confirmed by the funeral home charged with handling Lutcher’s arrangements. Lutcher Stark had been in the hospital for nearly three months at the time he died, and his family members were all near and in town. Lutcher’s widow simply chose the earlier date so that her husband’s body was not awaiting burial for nearly a week.
Given the conflicts with scheduling during the long holiday weekend, the fact that all of the family members were already in the area, and the fact that there was no reason to delay the service for a week, Mrs. Stark’s decision was more than reasonable.
12. The Book: Page 12-13: The author spends two pages describing Lutcher Stark’s funeral service at the First Presbyterian Church, including the “…countless floral offerings throughout the First Presbyterian Church and lining the downstairs foyer” together with details of the church structure itself.
She then recounts a short graveside service where “…few lingered as the Texas temperature and humidity sent the heat index past the 100 degree mark.”
RESPONSE: Lutcher Stark’s funeral service took place at Claybar Funeral Home in Orange, NOT at the First Presbyterian Church.
Claybar Funeral Home is still in operation and representatives of the funeral home have confirmed the fact that Lutcher Stark’s funeral service occurred at the funeral home and not at the church. This location was also reported by various newspapers in stories published on or about September 3, 1965. See newspaper articles on Lutcher Stark’s death and funeral under “Documents.”
According to the National Climatic Data Service, the temperature at the time of Lutcher Stark’s graveside service at 6 pm was 86 degrees, with humidity at around 50%. This is hardly the sweltering summer day depicted by the author on page 13 (in which “…the Texas temperature and humidity sent the heat index past the 100 degree mark.”)
Although these corrections may seem to concern trivial details, the point is that, if an author is inaccurate about basic information like the time or location of a funeral or general weather conditions on that day (all of which are subject to independent verification), then how can the reader trust her account of more significant happenings and important details?
13. The Book: Page 12: “Ruby [Stark]… died from what locals called "a mysterious illness" while in Nelda’s care.”
Also, Page 30: “…Ruby died in Nelda’s care….”
RESPONSE: Ruby Stark died from breast cancer. Her death certificate states that she had "carcinoma of breast, with metastasis to right pelvis and right femur”, which medical experts say indicates a late-stage cancer that had likely progressed by the time she married Lutcher Stark the previous year.
In fact, she had been diagnosed with a malignancy just one week prior to her marriage to Lutcher Stark. See death certificate of Ruby Stark under “Documents.”
Ruby Stark was under the primary care of Dr. H. Wynne Pearce during her last illness, as noted on her death certificate. While it may be true that Nelda also cared for Ruby at the end of her life, Ruby was Nelda’s sister and only surviving sibling, and the two sisters were very close. Nelda loved her sister and, as any loving sister would do, cared for Ruby before advanced breast cancer claimed her life.
At this time in the 1940s and even for several decades thereafter, cancer was a taboo subject. People did not talk about cancer in general, much less breast cancer specifically, so it may have seemed “mysterious”. Ruby, however, could talk about her illness with her sister, Nelda, who herself experienced a breast cancer diagnosis and later had a mastectomy.
Informed people today know that cancer is an unfortunate reality as opposed to a “mysterious illness” and, regrettably, it has claimed millions of lives, both young and old, including the life of Ruby Stark.
14. The Book: Page 13: “…he [Homer] was somewhat surprised to see Nelda, the bereaved widow. and Eunice almost smiling as they exchanged glances.”
RESPONSE: If the author does not even accurately report the location of Lutcher Stark’s funeral, how could she possibly know anything about the demeanor of those in attendance?
15. The Book:
Page 13: "Nita, the love of his [Lutcher’s] life…."
RESPONSE: Nita Stark may have been the love of Lutcher’s early adult life, but she liked to spend more time in Austin than she did in her home in Orange, while Lutcher Stark liked to spend time duck hunting and fishing. In fact, on page 89, the author notes that Lutcher “…spent weeks at a time in Louisiana."
After Nita died in 1939, Lutcher found love and marriage again with Ruby and, later, with Nelda. See Correspondence under “Documents,” including a letter from Lutcher Stark to Homer Stark describing Lutcher’s happiness with Nelda, as well as correspondence between Lutcher and his friend Tommy Hughes, in which Tommy observes how happy Lutcher is and Lutcher confirms it.
Page 13: There is reference to Nelda Stark giving cars to the medical professionals who attended Lutcher Stark during his lengthy, last illness.
RESPONSE: Such generosity on the part of Nelda was not uncommon, especially since she had a major interest in an Orange car dealership. She gave cars to many other people as well. For example, Nelda gave a car to the parents of an Orange girl who was stricken with polio and was hospitalized in Houston, since the family’s car was too old and unreliable for the family’s trips to Houston to see their daughter. Nelda wanted the family to have a reliable vehicle for safe travel, all of which has been confirmed by the family who received this gift.
Page 19: There is reference to a weight problem on the part of Lutcher Stark early in his life.
RESPONSE: This is true and is what sparked Lutcher’s interest and involvement (in the 1910s and 20s) in the new and somewhat controversial area of weight training and physical culture (which, in turn, is the basis for the UT Stark Center named for Lutcher; see item 3 above.)
Interestingly, Lutcher Stark had a weight problem later in life as well. He loved all kinds of food and often indulged in steak and other high-cholesterol meals, which likely accelerated heart problems and other health issues in his later years.
16. The Book: Page 16: “…Lutcher Stark, only child of W.H. and Miriam.”
RESPONSE: Lutcher Stark was the only surviving child of W.H. and Miriam Stark. Lutcher had a sister, Frances Ann, who died in 1884 prior to her second birthday, as noted on the Lutcher-Robinson family tree that is outlined on page 1 of the Mills book.
17. The Book: Page 21: “…Lutcher again made the headlines as he and Nita donated a $5 million collection of art and antiques to their alma mater [The University of Texas].
RESPONSE: This is written as though the collection that was donated to UT was given by Lutcher Stark and/or was the community/joint property of Lutcher and Nita Stark. Instead, the collection, consisting primarily of rare books and manuscripts, belonged to Lutcher’s mother, Miriam Stark.
Miriam had pledged the collection to UT beginning in 1925. Miriam bequeathed to Lutcher, her only heir, the part that had not yet been donated to UT at the time of her death in 1936, as his sole and separate property. After he received it from his mother’s estate, Lutcher gave the remainder of the collection to UT. Both Lutcher and Nita were present at the ceremony in the Texas Governor’s office, but the gift was Lutcher’s separate property.
The collection was originally housed in The Miriam Lutcher Stark Library in the Main Building at the UT-Austin campus, which was named in honor of its donor. Part of the collection is also now located at the University’s Harry Ransom Center. See www.utexas.edu or www.hrc.utexas.edu for more information on this gift.
18. The Book: Page 21: "Two daughters, stillborn earlier in their marriage, left husband and wife with an obvious appreciation for each other…"
RESPONSE: At least one child born to this couple was male and lived for seven hours, dying as a result of "premature birth". He was born on June 8, 1916 and lived for seven hours before dying the same day. He was named Henry Stark.
See death certificate for “Baby Stark” (a male) under “Documents.” See also entry for (male infant) “Henry Stark” on the Lutcher-Robinson family tree that is reproduced on page 1 of the author’s own book! This further evidences the author’s disregard for details as well as her inclination for errors, as previously noted in Item 12 above.
19. The Book: Page 26: Reference is made to Nelda Childers visiting the home of Nita Stark during her last illness prior to her death.
RESPONSE: First, the author has no evidence that Nelda even visited Nita Stark during her last illness. Nita was attended by Dr. H. Wynne Pearce at that time, as well as Nurses Sue Self, Grace Howard, and Catherine McNeill. See last illness medical expenses noting medical personnel on Inventory in Nita Stark Estate under “Documents.”
The illness Nita developed in Colorado was her last. However, she had been in ill health for years. Homer Stark confirmed this in his deposition testimony in the 1988 lawsuit, with his statement that Nita “…had been sick a long time…. She was sick off and on most of her life. She was really bad sick, I would say, the last month of her life.” This was also confirmed in various correspondence, including a letter written in 1936 by Nita Stark herself in which she says that she has been in “…miserable health for so many years…”. See letters concerning Nita Stark’s poor health under Correspondence in “Documents.”
Even so, Nita’s health worsened unexpectedly while traveling to Roslyn Ranch in Colorado in July 1939, which the author herself notes on p. 26 (“Nita became ill at the Colorado ranch…” and her “health failed”). Nita Stark died shortly thereafter as a result of “uremia” (a toxic condition resulting from kidney disease), along with heart and lung failures. See copy of death certificate for Nita Stark under “Documents.”
Note: Nita Stark was 48 years of age at her death (see certificate), not 49 as stated by the author.
20. The Book: Page 30: The author makes the statement that children died on the steps of Lutcher Hospital in Orange “when Nelda refused them admission.”
RESPONSE: The author fails to produce one shred of evidence to substantiate this statement.
22. The Book: Page 31: "…Eunice and Nelda were lesbians…."
RESPONSE: Again, the author offers nothing to support such a statement. It may be easy to label as a lesbian any female who may prefer slacks, plain jackets, and haircuts by a barber. Females who have a keen mind and management sense seem to provide yet another pretext for the lesbian label.
But personal choices about appearance and a knack for business do not evidence one’s sexuality. And making a blanket statement that someone is a lesbian does not make it true.
23. The Book: Page 32: "Thus began the stories of Nelda and Eunice…."
RESPONSE: Friends recall no formal body of "stories" beginning in 1962.
The author herself notes on p. 33 that the salacious descriptions she provides about Nelda and Eunice’s “lifestyle” were merely “…tales handed down by servants in the Stark household.” In the absence of any evidence, stories like that have no credibility.
As should be done with the book itself, one should consider the author’s contentious history with Nelda Stark and the Foundation, question any bias or motivations that may impact credibility, and reach their own conclusions.
24. The Book: Page 33: "…Homer estimated his dad [Lutcher Stark] spent no more than four or five hours total with his [Homer’s] children, an average of 15 to 20 minutes each year."
RESPONSE: By 1960, Lutcher Stark was 72 years old. He had neither the drive nor the desire to attend spelling bees, school plays or baseball games.
Despite that, Lutcher Stark’s grandchildren frequently visited and interacted with him at Shangri-La, as described by both Homer Stark and Ida Marie Stark in the deposition testimony given by them in the 1988 lawsuit. In fact, Homer’s deposition testimony included a story about how Lutcher Stark would throw coins on the grounds of Shangri-La when the grandchildren visited, tell the children that there was a “money tree” out there and then encourage them to go find the money tree, which delighted the children, according to Homer’s testimony.
Homer also recalled in his testimony that Lutcher “loved” to watch the grandchildren wade across water that went over a low road at Shangri-La and then laugh as they fell over in the water and got wet.
25. The Book: Pages 34-35: "Nelda won’t marry me… unless I give up my sons….[Lutcher Stark] never mentioned Nelda for the rest of the trip….”
RESPONSE: Friends say Nelda Stark was aware that Lutcher’s sons did not like her and did not want their father to marry her. She did not want to marry him and get in the middle of such a situation. Yet Lutcher, as usual, was a man with a mission.
In less than eight years, he had lost both of his parents (1936), his first wife (1939), and his second wife (1942). Both of his sons were away in military service in the early 1940s. His role as a member of the Board of Regents of The University of Texas in the early-mid 1940s was becoming more turbulent. His life needed an anchor.
Nelda had been living in Lutcher’s home, attending to the needs of her sister (Ruby) as Ruby’s health deteriorated due to advanced breast cancer. Lutcher knew that Nelda was smart and had good judgment.
After Ruby’s death, Lutcher lobbied Nelda’s mother, Mamie Childers, about marrying Nelda. Those who knew him well recall that he made such a pest of himself that Mrs. Childers became upset. Lutcher even received an anonymous note signed “Dorothea Dix” (a then-famous advice columnist) telling him to stop bothering Nelda’s mother (who was also his former mother-in-law) and to either marry Nelda or shut up. He wrote back "I will take this advice under consideration" and signed it.
Lutcher wanted to marry Nelda in the Fall of 1942, just a few months after Ruby’s death. But Nelda refused to even consider marriage to Lutcher until after more than one year had passed following her sister’s death. Lutcher persisted, sending several telegrams to Nelda Childers from California in his pursuit of her in mid-1943. One telegram from Lutcher said, “I still haven’t changed my request”; another said “I must go on but where is on? Each day I’m more lost.” See telegrams under Correspondence in “Documents.”
Several weeks after Lutcher married Nelda in December 1943, he wrote a long letter to his adopted son Homer telling Homer about his happiness with Nelda and asking Homer to respect his decision to marry her. Part of Lutcher and Nelda’s honeymoon trip was a visit with Bill and his wife, Ida Marie, as well as Tommy and Helen Hughes, on the West Coast. Tommy Hughes and Lutcher Stark thereafter exchanged correspondence in which Tommy observed Lutcher’s happiness with Nelda, and Lutcher confirmed it. Lutcher and Nelda were together for 22 years after that.
See correspondence between Lutcher Stark and Lt. T.F. (“Tommy”) Hughes, along with Lutcher’s letter to Homer Stark and other love telegrams, notes and letters under Correspondence in “Documents.”
26. The Book: Page 36-37: The author describes the deposition of her sister Ramona in the 1988 litigation that the Homer Stark family filed against Nelda Stark, stating that Nelda Stark’s lawyers asked Ramona to describe Mrs. Stark in “one word” and that Ramona’s response was “mysterious”.
RESPONSE: Ramona Stark was deposed in the prior litigation but was not asked for a one-word description of Nelda Stark. To the contrary, she was directly asked for her opinion, thoughts, beliefs, allegations, attitude and such about Nelda Stark.
Specifically, the attorney representing Nelda Stark said “…I am interested in the things that kind of even marginally touch upon the allegations in the lawsuit, like [Nelda’s] honesty or integrity, the type of person she is, those type of things….If you have got a bunch of bad things to say about Nelda Stark, I want to hear it now, before the trial of the case. I don’t want to hear it for the first time on the stand about what an evil person she is or how she changed [Lutcher Stark’s] attitude towards you or his children, that kind of thing….If I am going to hear that kind of testimony that will adversely reflect upon [Nelda], I would like to hear it now…if you can shed any light on it.”
The only response Ramona Stark made to this open-ended request was to say that Nelda Stark “…was a mysterious woman to me.” The attorney for Nelda Stark asked Ramona if she could add anything beyond that and Ramona said “No” because she “didn’t dwell on it.”
So, despite being asked to provide details about her attitude toward Nelda Stark and despite being told that the attorney wanted to hear in the deposition all allegations that Ramona and her family had against Nelda Stark, the most Ramona had to say was that Nelda was “mysterious” to her.
The author may be correct when she says (p. 36) that Ramona in her deposition gave the attorneys “nothing to pursue.” But as this was Ramona’s sworn testimony under oath, one can only conclude that she responded as she did because there was indeed nothing to pursue since, based on her answers, she was not able to articulate the existence of anything to pursue.
Interestingly, in that same deposition, Ramona testified that she had no idea about what, if any, assets were left out of Nita Stark’s estate and that she did not know anything about the source of Lutcher Stark’s wealth. She also asserted several times in the deposition that her father, Homer Stark, was opposed to doing anything that would reflect poorly on his adopted father, Lutcher Stark.
27. The Book. Pages 40-47: The author describes her “efforts” in Virginia to locate information on the adoption of Frank and William Mills.
RESPONSE: Whether intentionally or as a result of lack of diligence, the author seemingly did not look in the right places, nor did she look hard enough. See Item 9 above and Items 30 and 33 below for discussion on the adoption of the Mills twins. Also see “Mills Twins” tab.
28. The Book:
Page 47: Clemmie Rosenthal is described as a woman “who had worked for Nita and Lutcher Stark for years, then continued on the payroll until the 1960s…”
RESPONSE: There is no mention by the author of the fact that Clemmie also worked in the later years for Becky and Homer Stark, while Nelda and Lutcher Stark footed the bill, according to friends and colleagues.
29. The Book: Page 48: The author claims that Nelda and Eunice paid for “treatments” for Clemmie that turned her into a “vegetable-like state” before her death.
RESPONSE: Any insinuation that Nelda or Eunice caused or contributed to the death of Clemmie or did anything to cause harm to her is absurd.
Nowhere is there any evidence that either Nelda or Eunice was even involved in Clemmie’s medical care or that Clemmie was ever even in a “vegetable-like state.” As with many other allegations, this is not true just because the author prints it. Where is the proof?
Clemmie was 83 years of age when she died, and she had suffered a debilitating illness prior to her death. Not only was Clemmie failing physically, her mental faculties were affected by the her condition and her age. Indeed, the author writes (p. 48) that, according to Homer Stark, “Clemmie’s memory wasn’t what is [sic] used to be”.
This is another fact of life – people get old, deteriorate and die. That is what happened to Clemmie, and no one has presented any evidence to the contrary.
30. The Book: Page 50: The author refers to a “missing attachment” to the adoption records filed in Orange County for Homer and Bill Stark.
RESPONSE: There is no “missing attachment” to the Articles of Adoption that are filed at Vol. 41, P. 50-51 of the Orange County Deed Records.
In order for something to be missing, it would have had to have been there in the first place. Filings on prior and subsequent pages where the adoption documents are recorded confirm that, despite the language in the Articles of Adoption referencing an attachment, no attachment was filed. The Orange County Clerk has confirmed this. There is no mystery here – documents referencing attachments are inadvertently filed all the time with no attachments.
Despite the lack of any attachment, the Articles of Adoption reference the Consent to Adoption granted by the Children’s Home Society of Virginia. While ultimately not attached to the Orange County filing for whatever reason, such a consent document did exist, and it is provided under the “Mills Twins” tab on this website (www.thestarktruth.org).
Thus, even without the benefit of any attachments, the Articles of Adoption themselves clearly provide the name of the organization with authority to grant the adoption of the Mills twins – being the Children’s Home Society of Virginia – an actual organization that was in existence in Virginia in 1923 that remains in existence today (2010).
See www.chsva.org (especially “History” section, which references the chartering of the organization by the Virginia General Assembly on January 30, 1900, as well as its first Executive Director, W.J. Maybee, who appears on the letterhead and who signed some of the correspondence from the Children’s Home Society concerning the Mills twins in 1923. See “Mills Twins” tab on this website (www.thestarktruth.org).
Despite the explicit reference to the Children’s Home Society in the Articles of Adoption on file for the Mills twins in the Orange County (Texas) public records — and even though the author says she traveled to Virginia in her quest for the “truth” (p. 40-47; Item 27 above) — she apparently failed to look into or even consider the Children’s Home Society of Virginia as part of her “investigation”.
The author focuses instead on a location from a birth certificate issued in Texas on July 3, 1942, which was issued quickly for the sole purpose of assisting the Mills twins with their military enlistment and which contains numerous other “misstatements” besides the birthplace of Frank Mills. See Item 33 below for more detail.
Had the author’s research been thorough, she would have likely located some of the same documents and records pertaining to the Children’s Home Society of Virginia the Foundation did in its independent investigation. Then, the reputation and character of Lutcher, Nita and Ruby Stark would not have been called into question regarding the origin of Frank and William Mills. See Item 33 for further discussion.
31. The Book: Page 50: “[Nelda Stark and Rebecca Nugent (apparently “Rachel” in the book)] had a good relationship and the older woman [Nelda Stark] always seemed pleased when her [step]granddaughter stopped by."
RESPONSE: This visit did not occur during any period of a “good relationship.” Members of the family of Homer and Bill Stark had by that time filed a lawsuit against Nelda Stark, and it was very upsetting to Nelda Stark. Nelda’s colleagues, office staff and friends confirm that she often wondered, "Why are they doing this to me?" in reference to the 1988 lawsuit.
32. The Book: Page 51: "Nelda was 87, but in good health…"
RESPONSE: Nelda was not in good health at age 87. According to her personal physician, she suffered from stomach ulcers, chronic diverticulitis, and psoriasis, which caused extreme discomfort on her feet. She was increasingly frail. Moreover, her friends and colleagues confirm that the lawsuits that had been previously filed by Homer and Bill Stark’s children – including Rebecca Nugent – had caused Nelda great stress and anxiety.
33. The Book: Page 53: “Where would someone look for answers to Homer and Bill’s adoption and the mysterious lives of Nelda and Eunice?”
RESPONSE: This inquiry presumes that there is a question about the adoption of Homer and Bill and/or a mystery about the lives of Nelda and Eunice. Both presumptions are wrong.
“Homer and Bill’s Adoption”: The truth is that Homer and Bill Stark were born in Radford, Virginia, on April 26, 1923, and given the names Frank and William Mills. Their biological mother was named Bertie Mills and their biological father was unknown/unidentified.
Just five months later, the custody of the Mills twins was committed to the State Board of Public Welfare by a juvenile court in Radford, Virginia after the town’s police chief filed a sworn statement alleging neglect of the babies by their mother. The guardianship of the twins was thereafter committed to the Children’s Home Society (CHS) of Virginia.
[NOTE: Local welfare officials were apparently quite familiar with Bertie Mills, as this was the SIXTH time that a child had been removed from her care. According to an internal card file at CHS, Ms. Mills had given birth to five other babies — starting in 1911 — prior to the births of the Mills twins in 1923, and all of those children were illegitimate and had been committed to CHS at different times over the period 1911-1923. See chart on Bertie Mills’ Children under Adoption of Mills Twins under “Documents.”
Of further note, three of the children of Bertie Mills – Louise, Mary and Fred – were each eventually returned to their birth mother due to a technicality in paperwork, according to the CHS source. The other children – Charlie and Helen – were apparently adopted, just as were Frank and William (later Homer and Bill Stark)].
The Children’s Home Society, working with Mrs. DeVault — a “baby home finder” from the neighboring state of Tennessee — placed the twins for consideration with Lutcher and Nita Stark, who were childless after losing two biological children in infancy (one premature birth, one stillbirth) and who were considering adoption. After the twins had lived with the Starks for more than one year, the Children’s Home Society (which still had legal guardianship of the Mills twins) granted its consent in early 1925 for the adoption of the twins by the Starks. See Item 9 above and Item 106 below.
CHS was not required until 1942 to provide copies to the Commonwealth of Virginia, Department of Social Services of adoptions it granted; thus, it is highly unlikely that the Department of Social Services in Virginia (or any other governmental agency there) would have any records relating to the adoption of the Mills twins.
Nevertheless, the entire series of events is documented in the official adoption paperwork and related records from the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of Radford, Virginia, the State Board of Public Welfare in Richmond, Virginia, and the Children’s Home Society of Virginia, all of which was maintained in personal records and files belonging to the adoptive parents, and such documents are provided under Adoption of Mills Twins under “Documents.” As such, anything and everything that the author says, alleges, contends or otherwise describes to the contrary regarding the origin of the Mills twins is erroneous.
Birth Certificates: Since the original birth certificates of the Mills twins were presumably sealed in Virginia (where birth certificates are sealed for 100 years) following their legal adoption by Nita and Lutcher Stark in Texas, neither Homer (Frank Mills) nor Bill (William Mills) were in possession of a birth certificate – a necessary prerequisite — when they tried to enlist in the military in 1942.
So, to enable the twins to proceed with military enlistment, applications were made for Texas-issued birth certificates for the Mills twins. See Texas-issued birth certificate for Homer Stark in Adoption of Mills Twins under “Documents.” See p. 2 of memorandum dated July 3, 1942 from W.B. Simmons to Bill Stark in Adoption of Mills Twins under “Documents” concerning the birth certificate that was issued the same day in conjunction with the pressing matter of compiling various documents to facilitate Bill Stark’s military enlistment.
Such certificates were issued on July 3, 1942 by the State of Texas solely for the reason that the twins needed a birth certificate at that time to enter the military (and, presumably, had not needed a certificate prior to that time).
This appears to be a task that was hastily completed on the Friday (7/3/1942) of the July 4th holiday weekend in 1942.
The Orange County Clerk was asked to issue a birth certificates the same day based on statements filed on that date by people who knew Homer and Bill (Dr. H. Wynne Pearce, for example), but who were not present at the time of their births in Virginia.
The very birth certificate that the author questions (the Texas-issued certificate from 1942) states in the fine print on the reverse side that “…any citizen of the State of Texas wishing to file the record of any birth…that occurred outside of the State of Texas, not previously registered, may submit to the probate court in the county where he resides a record of that birth…written on the adopted forms of birth…certificates….”
As evidenced by the Simmons memorandum, Bill Stark needed certain materials and documentation (birth certificate, letters of reference, etc) in order to enlist, so he requested the help of his father’s staff with this process, and they assisted him. The primary function of the certificate was to verify the age of the individual seeking enlistment, not his place of birth, and the last-minute assembly of documents was done in the spirit of assisting Bill and his twin brother, not misleading them. But for the twins’ military enlistment, it is highly likely that the Texas birth certificates would never have been issued.
No one (including the author) has explained why the twins’ birthplace is listed as “Jamestown, Virginia” on the certificate and any speculation would be just that…speculation. The issuing entity (Texas, as state of then-current residence — not state of birth) could have made a simple mistake, especially since it was prepared by the state of residence and not the state of birth nearly two decades after the births and, further, was based on information from persons who did not even know the circumstances of the births of the Mills twins.
The most likely explanation for stating the birthplace as “Jamestown” is that Lutcher Stark did not know exactly where the twins had been born and/or did not know about the circumstances of the twins’ birth in Radford, Virginia. Or, if he did, perhaps he chose not to name Radford as the birthplace of the twins, in an effort to protect them from such upsetting information.
It would be wrong to leap to the conclusion that something was being concealed — without any evidence of concealment AND in the face of the overwhelming evidence/paperwork that a legitimate adoption transaction had occurred.
Of note, the Texas-issued certificate also states that Nita Stark was the mother and that two children had been born to her and were now living, neither of which statement was technically correct.
(Repeat) The Book: Page 53: “Where would someone look for answers to Homer and Bill’s adoption and the mysterious lives of Nelda and Eunice?”
RESPONSE: Nelda/Eunice: Correct information on the adoptions of the Mills twins is set forth above and supported in numerous documents posted elsewhere at www.thestarktruth.org.
The truth about the lives led by Nelda and Eunice is that both women were known to be decent, upright and straightforward. Both ladies were wealthy and often the targets of unscrupulous and manipulative individuals. In fact, Nelda Stark was the target of an attempted kidnapping in the 1970s, which was well documented in the media at that time. It is no wonder that, after such an attempt, she chose to be reserved and not at the forefront of the Orange social scene.
Being private individuals and having a select group of friends and associates certainly did not make them “mysterious.” Both were active in business, charitable and civic affairs and contributed much to the Orange community behind the scenes. There is nothing mysterious about that.
34. The Book: Page 53: “Nita had been married to Lutcher for almost 30 years, yet the lawyer [for Homer and Bill Stark and their children] said very little of the property they [Lutcher and Nita] shared was community and her estate was indeed small.”
RESPONSE: This statement is true. However, even though uttered by the lawyer for the families of Homer and Bill Stark (including the author), it did not reconcile with litigation to obtain Lutcher Stark’s fortune.
The truth is that, even though Lutcher Stark may have been wealthy, the vast majority of his wealth was the result of inheritance by him from his grandmother, Frances Lutcher, following her death in 1924 and then again from his parents, W.H. and Miriam Stark, following their deaths in 1936. (Note: The author concedes on p. 59 that Lutcher Stark was the “primary beneficiary” of the estates of his grandmother and his parents and achieved much of his wealth via inheritance.) See also Wills of Frances Ann Lutcher, W.H. Stark and Miriam Lutcher Stark under “Documents.”
In Texas, property received by a married person as a result of inheritance is that married person’s separate property, which means it is not community property and, thus, ownership is not shared with the spouse of the person who received the inheritance. In other words, all of the property that Lutcher Stark received from the estates of his grandmother and his parents was the separate property of Lutcher Stark and, even though he was married to Nita at the time he received the inheritance, it remained his sole and separate property.
When Nita died a short time later, she did not own any of the property Lutcher Stark had inherited, which indeed made her estate “small,” just as the author’s lawyer noted. (Note, however, the term “small” is relative, as the inventory of Nita Stark’s estate reflected an estate of more than $300,000 (more than $250,000 of which was community property) which, in the Depression in 1939, was far from “small” and would be the equivalent of millions today.) See Inventory and Winkelman Audit Report in Nita Stark Estate under “Documents.”
The bottom line is that Homer and Bill received the portion of their mother’s estate to which they were entitled, and they moved on with their lives. See Receipt and Release documents of Homer Stark and Bill Stark in Nita Stark Estate under “Documents.”
We believe it is sad that the children of Homer and Bill Stark were not able to do the same before filing their first lawsuit in 1988, even after the passage of nearly 50 years since Nita’s death in 1939.
35. The Book: Page 55: “The failed lawsuit had been a disappointment…”
RESPONSE: The 1988 lawsuit was ultimately settled in 1991 between the parties when Nelda Stark, who preferred to end the litigation and resulting strife, agreed to personally pay $2.5 million to each family (i.e., the Bill Stark family and the Homer Stark family), for a total settlement of FIVE MILLION DOLLARS.
A $5 million settlement is generally not a “disappointment” to most litigants, especially those whose claims have no merit.
36. The Book: Page 55: The author laments the treatment of the (Homer and Bill Stark) families during their lawsuit against Nelda Stark, describing it as “…[l]ike outsiders with no rights at all to question the motives or actions of Nelda….”
RESPONSE: This is correct.
As children of the adopted sons of Lutcher Stark, these litigants had no legal standing whatsoever as to Nelda Stark. They were not related to Nelda by blood or otherwise.
As the executrix of Lutcher Stark’s estate, Nelda had fully completed her duties under Lutcher’s Will when she distributed $1 million each (tax-free) to Homer and Bill after Lutcher’s death (which is equivalent to $7 million each in 2010 dollars). See Receipt and Release documents of Homer Stark and Bill Stark regarding the Lutcher Stark Estate under “Documents.”
Regardless of the legalities, litigants cannot possibly expect a person they sue and against whom they level serious allegations to have warm and fuzzy feelings toward them “during their lawsuit”.
37. The Book: Page 56:
(a) (Nelda Stark) "Bought her clothes at Griffin’s Menswear, picking up a couple dozen Sansabelt slacks at a time and topping them off with those loose-fitting tropical shirts.”
RESPONSE: Nelda Stark bought many elegant and expensive women’s suits and dresses for formal occasions from Sakowitz, The White House, and Neiman Marcus, among others. Those close to her never remember seeing her in a "tropical" shirt. In the summer, she chose to wear short-sleeved cotton shirts that were finished at the hem to be worn untucked. In the winter, she wore long-sleeved shirts with a jacket.
(b) “Other than the local weather, the only television show [Nelda] watched was "Murder She Wrote.”
RESPONSE: We know that while Nelda did love to watch the weather, she also watched the News on Channel Six, Wheel of Fortune (every night), and Johnny Carson. She would not miss Johnny Carson, and this led to Bob Hope and Liberace being some of the first performers at the Lutcher Theater.
Regardless, where did the author acquire her knowledge of Nelda’s television viewing habits and why are they relevant to anything?
38. The Book: Page 59: Using her character “Rachel,” the author renders a blanket character assessment of her adopted grandfather, Lutcher Stark, determining by her review of legal documents (from 70-80 years ago and with no legal training nor any additional facts or further context) that Lutcher defrauded people and lacked business skills.
RESPONSE: Just because the author concluded that Lutcher’s legal strategies must have been unjustified does not make them so. If Lutcher Stark was involved in litigation, then the presumption is that it concerned legitimate claims, especially since he generally prevailed.
Note: The author concedes on p. 59 that Lutcher Stark was the “primary beneficiary” of the estates of his grandmother and his parents and achieved much of his wealth via inheritance. See item 34 above.
Being the recipient of wealth, however, does not in turn mean that one lacks “business acumen,” as Lutcher Stark was clearly a skilled businessman even though he was not “self-made.”
39. The Book: Page 59: “…Lutcher Stark ended up with at least 75 percent of the fortune originally created by his grandparents.”
RESPONSE: Lutcher Stark’s ancestors each had a Last Will that directed the manner in which their assets were distributed. And they chose to leave their assets to their grandson and son, Lutcher Stark.
Individuals in Texas are free to leave their assets to whomever they wish. Lutcher Stark did the same thing decades later when he established a charitable organization (the Stark Foundation) and directed the remainder of his assets to that organization. There is no requirement in Texas that an individual must leave their estates in a certain manner or to certain people.
40. The Book: Page 62: “[According to her doctor], the best medicine [for Nelda] was to see more of us [Homer and his family].”
RESPONSE: Would a medical professional actually suggest that it would be beneficial for an elderly patient suffering from stress — among other things — to be exposed to individuals who had sued her, engaged her in litigation for more than three years, and then taken $5 million of her personal assets in “settlement” of their claims?
41. The Book: Page 63: “…[Homer] did appreciate [Nelda’s] gift of the ranch. Now if her office would just take care of transferring title to him….”
RESPONSE: Nelda had not given the Colorado ranch to Homer. If she had, then there would have been a gift deed evidencing this transfer.
Nelda, as owner of the ranch, would have to sign a gift deed; her “office” would not be legally able to “transfer title” to Homer. There was no gift deed and, thus, no gift.
42. The Book: Page 65: "The funeral services planned by Eunice were not at all what Nelda would have preferred".
RESPONSE: Eunice Benckenstein was one of many who helped to plan the funeral of Nelda Stark.
And how does the author know what Nelda would have “preferred”? The two had not been in contact much, if at all, for a considerable time prior to Nelda’s death, as any relationship prior to that had seemingly been disrupted by the lawsuit filed against Nelda in 1988 by some of the family members of Homer and Bill Stark.
43. The Book: Page 66: "Controlling a billion dollar fortune while…making minimal efforts to give back to the community…”
RESPONSE: Nelda Stark did not control a “billion dollar” fortune. Her estate was in the millions.
Even so, Nelda Stark’s bequest to the Stark Foundation — which funds the Stark Museum of Art, the Lutcher Theater, the W.H. Stark House, the nature classroom that preceded development of Shangri La, the Stark Reading Contest for high school students, together with numerous grants for education, medical care and social services — as well as her own personal charitable contributions and generous gifts (mostly in an anonymous capacity) are hardly “minimal efforts.”
The Orange, Texas, community, as well as the greater Southeast Texas region, has benefitted beyond measure because of the generosity and legacy of Nelda and Lutcher Stark. The Stark Foundation makes an enormous difference in the Orange community, both directly, through its charitable programs, grants, and scholarships; as well as indirectly, through the enhancements it provides to the Orange community as a result of the thousands of people who visit its world-class cultural, historical, environmental and artistic venues and facilities.
44. The Book: Page 66: "No emotion. No tears. No fond farewells…." (in describing Nelda’s funeral)
RESPONSE: The funerals of most 90-year-old individuals who do not have children are rarely emotional. Why didn’t “Rachel” volunteer to say a few words about the woman who had made a gift of an education annuity to help fund her college expenses, who had made gifts to her children for their education, and who, according to colleagues, had assisted her with other expenses? See gift of education annuity in 1956 Gifts under “Documents.”
45. The Book: Page 67: “…Homer Stark, quite possibly [Nelda’s] only true friend…”
RESPONSE: Does a “true friend” sue a person, collect $2.5 million from her and then, after releasing any and all claims against her, sue her estate after she dies for even more money? That is precisely what Homer Stark and some members of his family did to Nelda.
46. The Book: Page 67: "If anyone had figured out a way to take it with you, Nelda would be the one."
RESPONSE: Nelda left most of her assets to the Stark Foundation which, in turn, manages such assets for the benefit of the Orange community.
47. The Book: Page 69: "[Homer learned] just how badly Nelda had been treated in her final days by Eunice."
RESPONSE: Those close to Nelda do not believe Eunice mistreated her. As Nelda’s condition worsened and her care became increasingly difficult, Eunice tried many kinds of care, but she did not leave her alone nor did she mistreat her. Nelda’s personal physician regularly attended her and observed no improprieties.
48. The Book: Page 69: "A total stranger wandering in would have thought a celebration was going on rather than people paying respects upon the death of a loved one.”
RESPONSE: Funerals and post-funeral gatherings are commonly a celebration of the life of the deceased. There was much to be celebrated about the life of Nelda C. Stark and what she had done for the Orange community.
The tone of a funeral is set by the age and circumstances of the deceased. In this case, Nelda Stark was quite elderly at her death (90 years). Though she left many loyal friends, she did not leave any descendants, nor was she survived by extended family or other relatives. See Item 44 above.
49. The Book: Page 70: "Possibly among those items crated and shipped to her native Oklahoma in recent years" (describing artwork in the home of Eunice Benckenstein).
RESPONSE: Eunice Benckenstein had no family members who lived in Oklahoma after 1992, according to her niece, Anita Cowan. Therefore, per Anita, there was no one or nothing in Oklahoma to which to ship crated items.
50. The Book: Page 70: “Nelda wanted to fire Walter [Riedel]…”
RESPONSE: If Nelda had wanted to fire anyone, then they would have been fired. She obviously fired Clayton Newberry (page 69) without hesitation.
51. The Book: Page 71: “[Walter] lied…he [said] the will would not be read until the following week. In reality, Walter had actually filed [Nelda’s Will] at the courthouse between the services and [the post-funeral gathering].”
RESPONSE: Even though Walter Riedel was one of the executors of her Estate, Nelda’s Will was filed for probate by the lawyers retained to represent her Estate – not by Mr. Riedel.
And Wills are not typically “read” (except perhaps on TV or in novels); in reality, they are filed at the courthouse and then probated by a court of law. Neither Walter Riedel nor any of the other executors of the Estate of Nelda Stark were required to report to anyone whether or when Nelda’s Will would be filed for probate, nor were they required to “read” it at some type of gathering.
52. The Book: Page 71: The author attempts to characterize Nelda Stark’s Will as complex and convoluted and difficult to navigate.
RESPONSE: This is incorrect. Although her estate was significant in value, Nelda Stark’s Will was rather “simple” and straightforward, as she left several specific bequests to various individuals followed by a disposition of her “residuary estate” to the Stark Foundation. See Will of Nelda Stark under “Documents.”
This type of arrangement does not require that one “read deep” into the story as the author suggests on p. 71; rather, the term “residuary estate” commonly means “the remainder of the estate assets” not otherwise given by specific bequest. In other words, whatever remained and not specifically given to designated individuals went to the Foundation.
This included the Roslyn Ranch in Colorado. Since it was never given by Nelda during her lifetime, the Ranch was part of her Estate at her death and passed under the “residuary estate” to the Foundation.
53. The Book: Page 72: “…Walter failed to transfer the property [Roslyn Ranch].”
RESPONSE: A person cannot transfer what they do not own. Nelda Stark, not Walter Riedel, owned Roslyn Ranch. She did not give, sell or otherwise convey this property during her lifetime, so it remained as part of her Estate at her death and passed to the Foundation under her Will. See Will of Nelda Stark under “Documents.”
54. The Book: Page 73: Shortly after Nelda Stark’s death, the author describes attending an event at the Lutcher Theater — built by Nelda Stark/the Stark Foundation for the community at a cost of millions of dollars – with the hopes of witnessing an acknowledgment to “her grandmother’s contributions.”
RESPONSE: How does the author reconcile this description regarding Nelda Stark’s contributions, including the world-class Lutcher Theater, with the contradictory remarks on p. 66 regarding Nelda’s “minimal efforts” at giving back to the community? See Item 43 above.
55. The Book: Page 79: "Eunice had never been one to give away anything of value…"
RESPONSE: Those who knew Eunice well remember that she gave away numerous items of value — to relatives, friends, neighbors, and employees — and many of those gifts were quite valuable.
56. The Book: Page 79: “It was a gracious offer and Rebecca was truly surprised.”
RESPONSE: Oops – proofreading error. Evidently someone forgot to conceal Rebecca Nugent’s identity by changing “Rebecca” to “Rachel.”
57. The Book: Page 81: “The only thing [Homer] wanted was the ranch and a chance to run the Foundation so it would really make a difference in Orange. He’s never been after the money.”
RESPONSE: If Homer and his family had really wanted the ranch, would not have sold it less than 24 hours after they bought it from Nelda Stark’s Estate? That’s exactly what they did – for a large profit (i.e., “money”). See Roslyn Ranch tab.
Also, Homer and his family filed lawsuits against Nelda Stark and the Stark Foundation in 1988 seeking damages (i.e., “money”) from the 1939 Estate of Nita Stark, among other things. In the 1988 case, Homer and his family released their claims in exchange for “money”, specifically $2.5 million dollars, without any court determining the validity of their claims. See Litigation Documents under “Documents.”
Homer did have a chance to “really make a difference in Orange.” He served on the Board of Directors for nearly 20 years, beginning in 1973 when Nelda nominated him as a director. So he was given the chance to be involved in the Foundation’s governance and operations, which he was for nearly two decades. However, if he had really wanted to stay involved, would he have made such involvement legally impossible under Texas law by suing the very Foundation that he says he wanted to serve?
Filing claims against the organization that one serves is an obvious conflict of interest as well as a breach of a director’s duties of loyalty and care to the organization, which are mandated by law. By joining the 1988 lawsuit filed by his children and others against the Foundation, the Attorney General of Texas determined that Homer Stark had assumed “a role directly adverse to the interests of the Foundation” and had “placed his personal interests above those of the Foundation.”
As a result, the Texas Attorney General examined the situation and concluded that “[a]n individual who would sue the Foundation for personal gain demonstrates that he cannot fulfill his duty of loyalty and should not continue to function as a trustee.” See letter dated March 5, 1991 from Texas Attorney General to the Stark Foundation Board in Stark Foundation Documents under “Documents”, which is also reprinted in the Mills book at pp. 334-335.
Last but certainly not least, the Stark Foundation makes an enormous difference in the Orange community, both directly through its charitable programs, grants, and scholarships as well as indirectly through the enhancements it provides to the Orange community as a result of the thousands of people who visit its world-class cultural, historical, environmental and artistic venues and facilities.
58. The Book: Page 81: "…[t]he worst thing they ever did was take him off the Foundation Board."
RESPONSE: By joining a lawsuit against the Foundation of which he was a director, Homer sealed his own fate regarding his position as a board member. It is an obvious conflict of interest for a board member to sue the very organization that he serves. See Item 57 above for details and documentation.
The Texas Attorney General’s office, which has ultimate oversight of charitable organizations such as the Stark Foundation, communicated in writing (p. 334-35) to the Foundation Board about “…the serious conflict of interest in which [Homer] Stark has placed himself…” by “…taking a role directly adverse to the interests of the Foundation in the…litigation,” and by placing “…his personal interests above those of the Foundation.”
The Attorney General ultimately concluded that Homer must vacate the Foundation Board, whether by resignation or by removal. See letter dated March 5, 1991 from Attorney General, Charitable Trusts Section in Stark Foundation Documents under “Documents.”
59. The Book:
Page 88: "Bill entered from an adjacent room and could not resist teasing Rebecca."
RESPONSE: Another proofreading error. Once again, “Rachel” is revealed as Rebecca. See Item 56 above.
60. The Book: Page 92: "…[t]here had to be a reason the two women could take control of a man as powerful as Lutcher Stark."
RESPONSE: Those closely associated with Lutcher Stark know that he always had women involved in his business affairs – first his grandmother, then his mother, then his first wife, then Nelda — which gave him the leeway to follow his hobbies and passions. But there was no "taking control". While Lutcher Stark deliberately chose to have women around him who were willing to assume the responsibilities of great wealth (i.e., decision-making about projects, spending, etc.), he always maintained primary responsibility and never relinquished control.
Indeed, the author herself mentions Lutcher Stark referring to his “three bosses” (wife and two sons) on p. 94. One example: Lutcher always had Nelda carry a wallet with their money, since he did not like to carry one, and he was heard to say more than once, "You’ve got the money, lady!"
61. The Book: Page 101-102: Although initially recognizing the gift of “Miriam Stark’s antique and art collection to the University of Texas”, the author states that Lutcher later changed his mind about the gift after he married Nelda. Her character concludes that one-half of the rescinded gift should go to Nita Stark’s Estate (i.e., to Homer and Bill as its beneficiaries), since the gift had originally been given to UT by Lutcher Stark during his marriage to Nita.
This same statement is repeated on page 291 where it is described as “Nita’s half of the gift”.
RESPONSE: The gift was of tangible property owned by Miriam Stark, then bequeathed to her son, Lutcher. It was his separate property and any gift by him of the property to UT during his marriage to Nita did not change this or give her ownership. See further details in Item 17 above.
Any conclusion that half of the gift was Nita’s is simply wrong, not only about Texas marital property law but also about what Homer and Bill were entitled to receive from their mother’s estate. They were clearly not entitled to property that was never part of their mother’s estate, such as the Miriam Stark book/art collection.
62. The Book: Page 102-105. Nelda Stark’s valid purchases for rat poison and medications are discussed.
RESPONSE: The author provides absolutely no evidence that such items were used — if at all — whether legitimately or not. She acknowledges that Nelda owned a drugstore. So, it was certainly not unreasonable for records to exist regarding medications, potions, chemicals, etc.
All that may be determined is that these items were purchased. Nothing is known about any subsequent use or application. To insinuate that drugs, chemicals or other items were used for any reason whatsoever without supporting evidence is pure speculation.
64. The Book: Page 115: "You stay away from Lutcher." (allegedly said by Nelda Stark to Jim Henderson)
RESPONSE: Jim Henderson was still working for Nelda and Lutcher Stark in the 1950s, as opposed to “staying away” from them.
In fact, he was later featured in a newspaper article and quoted as saying that he “…worked for Ms. Nelda…for about seven years” and that, because he “…had been with the Starks for so long, [he] did pretty much what [he] pleased.” His documented recollection of his work for Nelda and Lutcher Stark is irreconcilable with the author’s version of events. See newspaper feature article on Jim Henderson in Miscellaneous under “Documents.”
And, as with many of the individuals “quoted” in the Mills book, Jim Henderson is dead and cannot be further questioned.
65. The Book: Page 116: "It started when Lutcher Stark turned 70…Nelda began bringing him out to Shangri La each morning….and locking him behind the gates."
RESPONSE: Lutcher Stark would have been 70 years old in 1958. Numerous residents recall that in that year, he was driving his own car and going where he wanted to go. He was independent and made his own decisions. Again, where is the evidence? Where is the proof that he was ever locked inside Shangri La? We know of none because it never happened.
In fact, Homer Stark’s wife and Rebecca Nugent’s mother, Becky Stark, testified in her deposition during the 1988 lawsuit that she and Homer would often meet Lutcher Stark “…out in Shangri-La and he was real nice to us out there. That’s where we would visit with him.” Homer Stark likewise confirmed this in his deposition testimony in the 1988 lawsuit.
Since Homer and his wife visited with Lutcher Stark at Shangri-La and since Lutcher Stark was “nice” to them during these visits, it belies logic that Lutcher Stark was either imprisoned or drugged; otherwise, the deposition testimony of both Homer Stark and Becky Stark would be false.
Moreover, the author herself writes of visiting Lutcher Stark at Shangri-La as a youngster, but mentions nothing of him seeming to be “imprisoned” there at that time. (p. 33).
See also Items 132 and 152 below.
66. The Book: Page 117: “All that phenobarbital delivered to Nelda was being used to control Lutcher.”
RESPONSE: Where is the proof for such an outrageous accusation? Lutcher Stark’s own medical records show that he was prescribed Phenobarbital by his doctors at John Sealy Hospital in the 1950s and, for nearly a decade thereafter, Phenobarbital was part of Lutcher Stark’s regimen of doctor-prescribed medication. See Lutcher Stark’s medical records under “Documents.”
Notably, Lutcher Stark’s medical records were produced to Homer Stark and his family as part of the 400,000 documents provided by the Foundation and Nelda Stark in the 1988 litigation, which means that this information was readily available to the author.
There is no evidence of any kind that drugs were being inappropriately administered to Lutcher Stark, yet there is overwhelming evidence of prescriptions being legitimately written.
67. The Book: Page 117: "While [Lutcher] was given pills and locked in Shangri La, [Nelda and Eunice] were stealing lands that had been in the family since the 1800s."
RESPONSE: Lutcher Stark was not given pills (other than those prescribed to him), nor was he locked in Shangri La. See Items 65 and 66 above.
Similarly, no evidence was developed in any of the prior lawsuits that either Nelda or Eunice was “stealing lands.” If any conveyances occurred, they were legitimate transfers of property for consideration, just as reflected in the public records and filings.
68. The Book: Page 119: “Lutcher Stark…was in good health until Nelda entered the picture."
RESPONSE: Nelda Stark “entered the picture” in 1942. Lutcher Stark died 23 years later in 1965 at age 77 from heart disease, along with many other contributing factors. See death certificate of Lutcher Stark under “Documents.”
Lutcher Stark never appeared drugged to the many individuals who recalled seeing him over those 23 years. No one ever observed seeing Nelda give him medication, nor was this ever mentioned as occurring. It is ridiculous to contend that Nelda Stark would do anything to harm the man to whom she was married for more than 20 years.
69. The Book: Page 121: Describing Orange as “…a town without a destiny, lacking much of any economy or a downtown.”
RESPONSE: Orange is undoubtedly a small town, but it has a solid destiny and an active downtown, both of which contribute to its successful economy.
What other town of Orange’s size is home to a world-class performing arts theater; a magnificent art museum; a beautiful and historic church and historic home museum that are national landmarks and treasures; an award-winning botanical garden; as well as being home to a growing college, thriving port and significant industry?
The City itself has a long-term master plan that involves further revitalization of the downtown area with a pavilion, green space, a senior citizens’ center, additional retail space, and developments along the riverfront. Orange is certainly not a town without destiny.
70. The Book: Page 124: “The Foundation ‘owned’ the police department, at least according to a couple of workmen…”
RESPONSE: The police department is a law enforcement agency operated by the City of Orange. Its police chief and officers are employed by the City of Orange.
The Foundation does not own the police department, nor is the police department beholden to the Foundation, if that is what is being suggested. Exactly why an unidentified “couple of workmen” should be considered authorities on such an issue is beyond strange.
71. The Book: Page 125: "…I went to check [Nelda’s] gravesite. When I was here at Christmas, no one had done anything to remember her….not even Eunice."
RESPONSE: The Stark Foundation regularly sent flowers to Nelda Stark’s grave for a number of months after her death, and Eunice Benckenstein made regular visits to the gravesite and attended it during those visits.
The Stark Foundation has continued to maintain the site; of note, it has also maintained the entire family crypt for decades. What has the author done to remember Nelda?
72. The Book: Page 125: “[Walter, Roy, Clyde, Eunice] all got rich off [Nelda], then didn’t even bother to trim her gravesite or leave some flowers.”
RESPONSE: As Eunice Benckenstein was independently wealthy prior to Nelda Stark’s death due to her husband’s estate and her own investments, she did not “get rich” off Nelda Stark. Neither did Walter Riedel, Roy Wingate or Clyde McKee.
Of those three men, only Walter Riedel was named by Nelda in her Will to receive any property. That property was Nelda’s residence on Orange Ave., which had been appraised by the Orange County Appraisal District at less than $150,000. As the successor property owner, Walter Riedel of course had to pay taxes, insurance, maintenance and upkeep on the property, which he did out of his own pocket. Walter Riedel hardly got rich off of owning a tract of residential property in downtown Orange.
One person who, as the author puts it, “got rich off Nelda Stark” was Homer Stark. Not only did she pay him $2.5 million as a generous gesture to settle the first lawsuit that he filed against her, but she gave him another $1 million (tax free) in cash under her Will. See Receipt and Release document from 1988 lawsuit in Litigation Documents under “Documents;” see Will of Nelda Stark under “Documents.”
The ultimate recipient of Nelda Stark’s “riches” is the Orange community, which has benefitted and will continue to benefit from the charitable programs, grants and other endeavors of the Stark Foundation. The community should be grateful to Nelda and Lutcher Stark for their vision in 1961 to establish a private foundation that would enhance the quality of life in the Orange area.
See Item 71 above regarding care and maintenance of Nelda Stark’s gravesite.
73. The Book: Page 125: "The only place the grass is dead is over [Nelda’s] grave."
RESPONSE: At last check, the grass was full and green over Nelda’s grave.
74. The Book:
Page 126: Rebel: “Do you think [Homer] is all right with [exhuming Lutcher’s body]?”
“Rachel”: “He never would have done it on his own, but then I’ve come to believe they brainwashed him into thinking he was so lucky to be adopted by such a good family.”
RESPONSE: It is arguable that Homer would not have done on his own any of the actions that his children apparently initiated, including filing a lawsuit against the widow of his adopted father, suing the Foundation for which he served as director, exhuming the bodies of his adopted father and adopted grandfather, filing yet more lawsuits against the Foundation after Nelda’s death, and dividing and selling the Roslyn Ranch less than 24 hours after buying it from the Estate of Nelda Stark.
Regardless of whether Homer was agreeable with exhuming Lutcher’s body, Lutcher Stark’s friends believe that he himself would have been vehemently opposed to such atrocities. The family mausoleum was sacred to him, so much so that when he learned that general maintenance/cleaning work at the mausoleum in 1937 would involve workers going inside the Stark family crypts, he became extremely angry, saying that if he had known that the work would involve disturbing the crypts, he would never have commissioned the work.
In fact, Lutcher Stark was so incensed by the thought of anyone entering his family’s crypts that he wrote a memorandum that described the contemplated action of entering them as “…the height of carelessness, degenerating into imbecility….”, and he threatened reprisal against anyone who ever “play(ed) with” “the bones of my own ancestors”. See memorandum dated May 27, 1937 issued by Lutcher Stark and warning against disruption of his family’s crypt in Miscellaneous under “Documents.”
Apparently, his adopted son, that son’s children and others involved in the exhumation activities of Lutcher Stark and his ancestor (W.H. Stark) did not get the memo. (NOTE: Although the author fails to mention it, the author and her family did not restrict the exhumation to just one body but also exhumed the body of W.H. Stark.)
See Cause No. A-010, 145, Ex Parte: Rebecca Nugent, et al, in the 128th Judicial District Court of Orange County, Texas.
Including Petition to Obtain Genetic Samples.
Homer Stark was not “brainwashed” into “thinking he was so lucky to be adopted by such a good family.” (Page 126). Would most not agree that a child would be fortunate to be adopted from a state institution for homeless children and raised by a family instead of an institution (regardless of the adopted family’s status or means)? That the adopted family was a prominent, wealthy family would seemingly only add to the adopted child’s good fortune.
Whether Homer was grateful for the way his circumstances in life were drastically altered as a result of his adoption by Lutcher and Nita Stark is unknown, although Homer did testify in his deposition in the 1988 lawsuit that “…[Lutcher] picked my brother and I up out of an orphan’s home and he gave us a life that’s a lot better than I had ever expected….”.
75. The Book: Page 127: The author alleges that Nelda erected a white picket fence around Bill Stark’s gravesite that remained in place for 20 years and gave orders that crews not maintain the plot.
RESPONSE: This never happened. Nelda never erected a picket fence at Bill Stark’s gravesite, nor did she give any instructions to leave the site unmaintained. To the contrary, Nelda was caring and thoughtful with the family of Bill Stark when Bill was stricken with cancer. According to her office staff and accountant, she made a significant cash contribution to the family for the payment of his medical bills.
But if for some reason the family was dissatisfied with the maintenance, why didn’t they maintain it themselves?
76. The Book: Page 129: Regarding the exhumation hearing in a district court in Orange County: “The family…made its case, with no one from the Stark Foundation there to disagree or object.”
RESPONSE: No one from the Stark Foundation disagreed or objected because no one from the Foundation was aware of the hearing. The court documents will unequivocally show that the author and her family obtained an “ex parte” order, which means that they approached the judge and obtained an order from the court without notifying or otherwise involving any other party.
Once the Foundation was aware that the exhumation had occurred, court records will also show that the Foundation ultimately did not object to the DNA testing since, no matter what any test results may be, the legal results would be the same, meaning the Will of Lutcher Stark would not change, the family of Bill and Homer Stark would not be entitled to more money, etc.
However, the Foundation decided at the time that it was important to have someone in place to protect the rights and interests of the deceased (Lutcher Stark), if only to ensure that his grave was not disturbed again.
For this reason, the probate court appointed Eunice Benckenstein as successor executor to represent Lutcher’s Estate now that Nelda — the original executor — was dead. (NOTE: Lutcher had named Nelda as his first executor in his Will, with Eunice named by him as alternate executor. Notably, Lutcher did not name either of his adopted sons to serve as his estate representative.) See Will of Lutcher Stark under “Documents.”
77. The Book: Page 131: "Those bastards fed him everything from rat poison to phenobarbital to who knows what was prescribed…."
RESPONSE: Lutcher Stark was not fed rat poison. If he had been, he would have been diagnosed as having consumed poison. And there are no irregularities in any lab work or blood test results from Lutcher Stark’s medical records that would support such allegation; in fact, such records explicitly contradict such allegations of poisoning and clearly reveal the absence of any poison or other substances. See Lutcher Stark’s medical records under “Documents.”
Lutcher Stark took Phenobarbital (as well as Coumadin, a known blood thinner used by many people to prevent blood clots) because, according to his own medical records, it was prescribed to him by doctors at John Sealy Hospital beginning in the 1950s. See Lutcher Stark’s medical records under “Documents.” The author should know this from her “years” of poring over the 400,000 documents provided by Nelda Stark and the Foundation, which included Lutcher’s medical records.
See Item 66 above regarding the Phenobarbital allegations, for which the author offers no proof. Further, even Homer Stark family’s own drug testing on the exhumed body of Lutcher Stark did not substantiate the allegation that Lutcher Stark had any dangerous levels of drugs or poisons in his system. (Page 291.) See Item 151 below, in which the author admits on page 291 of her book that “[t]he drug test came back within two weeks as inconclusive.”
78. The Book: Page 131: Homer: “Luck hasn’t been on our side for more than 70 years.”
RESPONSE: To others it might seem that luck was definitely on the side of Homer and Bill Stark when the twins were plucked from a rural area of Virginia where they had been neglected as infants, removed from the custody of their birth mother (who had also apparently failed to take adequate care of any of her five other children), committed to the care of the state welfare board, then placed in a state-charted institution for children. They seemingly had little hope for a bright future, until they were chosen by Nita and Lutcher Stark and given a life of privilege.
79. The Book: Page 135: "…Homer started explaining the importance of the railroad, the rivers, the roadways–all key ingredients to transporting the timber…"
RESPONSE: This excerpt would suggest that Homer had a keen grasp of the timber mill and its geography. However, he did not work there. Instead, he managed a yacht clubhouse in Orange.
80. The Book: Page 136: The author references a historical marker stating that “The [Lutcher & Moore Lumber Company] ceased operations in the early 1930s”, but then claims the marker is false and must have been dedicated “in the dark of night”, since the company continued to operate in the 1940s and 1950s.
RESPONSE: Both statements are correct – the marker is not wrong, and there is nothing conflicting about the dates.
The upper and lower lumber mills of the Lutcher & Moore Lumber Company operation did shut down and the company ceased lumber mill operations around 1930, just as the historical marker states.
Although the Lutcher & Moore Lumber Company ceased lumber mill operations and entered a state of liquidation at that time, the company as an entity became an investment holding company, continuing its existence through income from real estate investments and mineral interests and trapping operations.
The company remained in existence with its investments until 1970, when it was sold to Boise Southern.
81. The Book: Page 141 "Ma Ferguson …was invited to go duck hunting in Cameron Parish."
RESPONSE: Whether Texas Governor Ma Ferguson was invited to go duck hunting is unknown, but what is known is that she came to Orange to attend the inauguration of the bridge over the Sabine with Lutcher Stark. He was still on the Board of Regents at The University of Texas, and she was serving as governor. This is documented in various newspaper reports and photos, including a photo on display at the Stark Center at UT.
82. The Book: Page 144: “December was always a big month for [Lutcher] at the courthouse, probably because fewer people were paying attention during the holidays.”
RESPONSE: Whether December was “always a big month” for Lutcher Stark at the courthouse is unknown. However, people were always “paying attention” to Lutcher Stark, and courthouse filings are public records open to review anytime.
The more likely explanation for December transactions is a business reason. As an astute businessman, Lutcher Stark likely knew that the calendar year closes in December and, for tax purposes, it is a very busy month to wind down any pending matters and ensure the most advantageous tax results.
The same remains true for corporations and individuals today.
83. The Book: Pages 144-178. Discussion about documents located in the public records of various courthouses in Louisiana parishes, including discussion on pages 170-171 about the sale of the Joyce Tract (Cameron Parish, LA) as part of the Mecom/Largo Company Transaction in 1956.
RESPONSE: Lutcher Stark owned lots of property and other interests in Louisiana and, of course, records of those holdings and related transactions would be on file, well documented in the public records.
Further, an exhaustive search of various parishes/courthouse records was not necessary since more than 400,000 documents that included Louisiana records had been provided to the families of Homer and Bill Stark in the 1988 litigation.
See more information on the allegedly-concealed Louisiana lands in “Fictional Fable No. 2: The Myth of the Missing Marshes” starting on p. 13 of Plaintiffs’ Reply to Defendants’ Response to Plaintiffs’ Amended Motion for Summary Judgment in Litigation Documents under “Documents,” which includes detail and supporting documentation concerning the property conveyed to The Largo Company (John Mecom) as part of a $15 million sale by Lutcher Stark and the Lutcher & Moore Lumber Company in 1956.
All of this rebuts the claim of Homer and Bill Stark’s children that thousands of acres of land were owned in Louisiana by Lutcher Stark but never disclosed.
In fact, Homer Stark testified in his deposition in the 1988 lawsuit that he was aware of the sale of the Joyce Tract to Mecom. In fact (and of significance), interests in some of the lands sold in the Mecom transaction had been transferred by deed from the Estate of Nita Stark to Lutcher & Moore Lumber Company in 1945 in partial satisfaction of the approximately $400,000 community property debt jointly owed by Lutcher and Nita Stark at the time of Nita’s death in 1939. Both Homer and Bill Stark signed that 1945 deed, which included portions of these lands. See Item 113 below.
Since their one-half share of Nita’s estate was reduced in order to pay this community debt, Homer and Bill should have been aware of the transfer of Louisiana lands from the Nita Stark Estate to the Lutcher & Moore Lumber Company in order to offset such debt. This is all properly documented in Nita Stark Estate under “Documents” and further detailed in Item 113 below.
Interestingly, the book fails to mention that, following the sale of various Louisiana lands to the Largo Company (John Mecom) in 1956, Lutcher Stark made gifts of nearly $1 million to his adopted sons, their wives AND all of their children (including Rebecca Stark Nugent) through the purchase of lifetime annuities. Lutcher also gave his adopted sons tax-free cash gifts of $150,000 each at the same time (an amount equal to $1.2 million each in 2010).
This is all documented on Lutcher Stark’s federal gift tax returns filed for the Year 1956. Homer, his wife, Becky, and Bill’s wife, Ida Marie Stark, also testified about and confirmed these gifts of money and annuities in the depositions they gave in the 1988 lawsuit. See 1956 gift tax return in 1956 Gifts under “Documents.” See also Items 130 and 162 below.
At the time the 1956 gift totaling $1 million was given by Lutcher Stark to Homer and Bill and their families, Lutcher was married to Nelda and had been married to her for nearly 13 years.
84. The Book: Page 164: The Louisiana attorney for Bill Stark’s family states that he is determined to right “the biggest scam of the 20th Century”.
RESPONSE: Such claims were repeatedly rejected by both Texas courts and Louisiana courts. Not only was “Billy Clyde” wrong about the existence of any scam, he was wrong about his prediction that he would be successful in rectifying the perceived wrong.
Instead, his clients were required by a court order to pay the attorneys’ fees and costs incurred by the Stark Foundation and the Attorney General’s Office in defending the family’s “claims.” That cost them more than $600,000.00.
85. The Book: Page 167: "Nelda was treating Miriam and wasn’t at all qualified. And the woman wasn’t sick in the first place."
RESPONSE: Miriam Lutcher Stark was attended by Dr. H. Wynne Pearce. He reported on her death certificate that he attended her from September 1, 1936 until her death on November 27, 1936.
According to her doctor, the cause of Miriam Stark’s death was acute cardiac dilatation. She also suffered from chronic myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), which the doctor determined by physical examination. See death certificate of Miriam Stark under “Documents.”
86. The Book: Page 167: “…you mean [Nelda] killed her own mother, too?"
RESPONSE: Again, as with Miriam Stark, Mamie Childers was attended by Dr. H. Wynne Pearce, who reports on her death certificate that he attended her from April 14, 1944 until her death at 1 a.m. on April 16, 1944 at the age of 65 years.
According to Dr. Pearce, the cause of Mamie Childers’ death was coronary thrombosis. It was known that Mrs. Childers had a weight problem as well as circulation problems, and she had been under stress since her daughter Ruby’s death.
As for the alleged conversation between Nelda and Eunice regarding Ruby Stark’s death that was allegedly overheard by Mrs. Childers, there is no way that this could have occurred because, according to Eunice’s niece, Anita Cowan, Eunice was not even in Texas at that time in 1944 and was, instead, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, with her husband, Charles, who was being treated for the disease that ultimately claimed his life (Item 92 below).
87. The Book: Pages 165-168: Statements are made throughout these pages that seemingly imply that Nelda Stark engineered the deaths of several people, including Miriam Stark and Mamie Childers.
RESPONSE: Such insinuations are completely and utterly false and lacking in any proof whatsoever. The hearsay of a hired servant that is repeated decades later by the child of the hired servant does not constitute solid evidence. See Item 86 above regarding the alleged incriminating conversation that never occurred due to the fact one of the parties (Eunice Benckenstein) was in Minnesota at the time.
While it may add layers of drama to otherwise routine events of people aging, getting sick, dying, leaving estates, etc., there is not a bit of credible evidence to support the direction that the author’s story takes on these pages.
88. The Book: Page 169: "It makes you wonder what Nelda, Eunice, and Clyde were thinking when they practically turned Orange into a ghost town."
RESPONSE: Nelda, Eunice and Clyde did not run the City of Orange; they operated the Stark Foundation along with a Board of Directors.
The truth is that the shipbuilding industry that had stimulated the economy of Orange in the 1940s declined after WWII ended. Thereafter, there was an overall gradual decline due to a lack of investment by businesses and investors, especially when the Naval port in Orange closed and the oil and gas economy went bust.
Many downtown areas in cities all across the country have declined with the advent of shopping malls and big box stores in other areas of those cities.
89. The Book: Page 175-176: "Nelda’s claim [was] that the only property [Lutcher Stark] owned in Louisiana at his death was the Big Lake acreage in Cameron Parish."
RESPONSE: Lutcher Stark did not own the Big Lake property at his death. This property had been conveyed to Lutcher & Moore Lumber Company many years prior to his death and, thus, was not part of Lutcher’s Estate.
See more information on Big Lake in “Fictional Fable No. 1: The Legend of Big Lake” starting on p. 8 of Plaintiffs’ Reply to Defendants’ Response to Plaintiffs’ Amended Motion for Summary Judgment in Litigation Documents under “Documents.”
90. The Book: Page 178: Reference to land patents issued in 1877 to H.J. Lutcher (Lutcher Stark’s grandfather) by the United States and/or State of Louisiana. The author claims that these land patents “didn’t show up in Nita’s estate” because they were not filed of public record for nearly 100 years.
RESPONSE: Regardless of the filings of the land patents or not, the truth is that such items would not “show up in Nita’s estate” because they were not owned by Nita.
The author inadvertently answers this issue on p. 178 when she notes that the land patents were issued to H.J. Lutcher. H.J. Lutcher left his property (including the land patents) to his wife, Frances Ann Lutcher. Frances Ann Lutcher left her property (which would include the land patents) to her grandson, Lutcher Stark.
Because Lutcher Stark acquired the land patents by inheritance from his grandmother, Frances Ann Lutcher, the land patents were Lutcher Stark’s separate property (See Items 34, 149, and 148 for discussion of the concept of inherited property as separate property). And because the land patents were Lutcher Stark’s separate property, the land patents were NOT part of Nita Stark’s estate and, thus, were properly not included in such estate.
91. The Book: Page 184: "Joyce Broussard…knew what they were up to when Eunice and Nelda made that vow in college [to marry wealthy older men with grown children and take over their fortunes]."
RESPONSE: Nelda and Eunice were not well-acquainted in college, if at all. They majored in different subjects, were members of different organizations, and lived on different parts of the campus.
(Eunice lived with her mother and sisters who moved to Denton for her first year, then lived two years in the Methodist Dormitory.)
This so-called “plan” is based solely on the hearsay of an individual who is given a false name and who herself is not quoted. As with other examples, such evidence would not pass basic standards for evidence in a court of law and should not be accepted as credible here.
The truth is that Eunice graduated in 1929 from Texas Woman’s University (“TWU”), which was then known as The College of Industrial Arts or “CIA,” while Nelda graduated from CIA in 1930. Nelda and Eunice became friends after Nelda took a job in Orange in 1932, relocated from Houston and went to a gathering of former students of CIA. Many Orange women had attended CIA, and there were more than 50 members in the former student club in Orange. See Items 107 and 144 regarding Nelda’s educational background and professional achievements.
92. The Book: Page 185: "Eunice’s husband died shortly after they were married — complications from toe surgery in New Orleans…”
RESPONSE: Eunice’s husband, Charles H. Benckenstein, died in 1946, three years after they were married, from complications of a disease called “mycosis fungoides.” He was first treated for it in 1936, likely with radiation to the skin.
The disease came and went and was mostly confined to lesions on his knee. But after Charles died at Oschner’s in New Orleans, his physician said the disease had invaded Charles’ organs, and he had developed a tumor in his heart. All of this has been confirmed by a family member of Eunice Benckenstein.
Friends recall that Eunice loved Charles very much and was heartbroken at his death. Although she dated other men in the years after Charles died, she never remarried.
93. The Book: Page 185: "Especially interesting to Rachel were tales of Nelda pursuing Lutcher, going with him to nightclubs in Lake Charles and pretending to enjoy herself.”
RESPONSE: Nelda Stark did not pursue Lutcher; rather, he pursued her. He asked her numerous times to marry him, starting in Fall 1942 just a few months after Ruby’s death. He eventually asked Nelda’s mother to help persuade Nelda to accept his proposal. See Item 25 above.
94. The Book: Page 185: "The whole office was in shock, even more so later when she insisted on setting up her own office and gradually took over the books."
RESPONSE: What is the author’s source? Did she talk to the “whole office”? Of course not.
The truth is that Nelda did not "take over the books", as there was staff at the “office” to keep accounts. Rather, Lutcher Stark recognized Nelda as being bright and a good manager, and he had seen Nelda’s compassion with his second wife. He voluntarily began to turn business matters over to her and sought her assistance with his business dealings after their marriage.
95. The Book: Page 186: " …be careful of Nelda and Eunice — they liked ‘threesomes’.”
RESPONSE: This blatantly offensive assertion, like many others in this book, is made with absolutely no substantiation. Can the author produce even one person who ever saw any show of physical affection between Nelda and Eunice at any time in 60 years? If she can, why doesn’t she name them?
Neither Nelda nor Eunice was physically demonstrative, other than with their respective husbands. Both were friendly with women and men, both couples and individuals — especially with those who worked in the office. But the type of conduct that the author describes was never heard about nor observed by those who were close to them.
96. The Book: Pages 179-190: The author devotes this entire chapter to repeating scandalous stories that she attributes to an elderly woman who she says worked for the Stark offices (along with her husband during what appears to be a period from the 1940-1970s). She gives her the name “Mildred Gallagher” and says she was from Little Rock, Arkansas, although the address provided does not exist.
RESPONSE: No person named Mildred Gallagher ever worked for the Stark offices. And no one associated with the Stark offices and interests recalls any husband-wife team (with two children) who both worked in the Stark offices during that extended time period (1940s-1970s).
Does this “mystery woman” really exist or is she a creation of the author? In this book it is hard to determine what the author has – as she puts it – “modified.” It is easy to make scandalous allegations about Nelda and Lutcher Stark when a “source” is shrouded by a concealed identity that prevents challenges to that “source’s” credibility and/or prevents questions about her stories.
What could possibly be the motivation for the so-called “million dollar offer” that “Mildred” describes on p. 182? The explanation given — that Nelda wanted “Mildred’s” husband to “self destruct” or that he was “the next name on the list” — is just plain silly. Where is the evidence that there was such a “list”?
Nelda and Lutcher were the bosses of the Stark office/interests, and if either of them did not want an employee around, then they would have simply fired that person. The whole “million dollar offer” story allegedly told by “Mildred” (p. 182, 186) is nonsensical. The same holds true for the other stories attributed to this unidentified person.
The real “million dollar offer” story was known among those in Lutcher Stark’s circle, and a prior employee and friend of Lutcher Stark recounted it in an interview that was part of the 1988 lawsuit: Namely, he reported that it was Lutcher (not Nelda) who had, on one occasion while bantering with a friend, offered one million dollars for the man’s young son. Lutcher reportedly made this offer in the presence of Ida Marie Stark, who was pregnant at the time.
Another person privy to the statement observed that Ida Marie would soon produce a grandchild and, thus, Lutcher did not need the man’s young son, to which Lutcher responded that Ida Marie would never produce a child like the little boy about whom Lutcher was joking.
Although the “offer” was obviously made in jest, the person recalling this story observed that it was insensitive for such a remark to be made in front of Ida Marie. However, the friend further noted that this exemplified Lutcher Stark – that he was not bashful about saying what came to mind and that he would never apologize, even for an insensitive remark. Indeed, the phrase “never explain, never apologize” was often used by Lutcher Stark and, in fact, that quote is attributed to him on materials displayed at the Stark Center at UT-Austin.
97. The Book: Page 187: “The will they probated after [Lutcher’s] death was brought to the hospital a couple of weeks before he died, but dated to coincide with the one Nelda and Clyde burned. They asked George Kelly, one of the Stark lawyers, to bring the new will to Galveston along with a notary from the office…They had to hold Lutcher’s hand and move it across the page.”
RESPONSE: Nelda Stark did not burn her husband’s Will, and a “new Will” was not taken to Galveston for Lutcher to sign while he was in the hospital there in 1965.
Lutcher Stark did have several Wills prior to his 1961 Last Will – each of the prior Wills was replaced or superseded by a new Will that was executed as a result of changed circumstances (i.e., death of Nita, death of Ruby, etc.) While the Will that immediately preceded Lutcher’s final was likely destroyed in order to definitively revoke it, the more significant fact is that such Will had directed that everything be left to Nelda.
The truth is that Lutcher Stark executed his final Last Will and Testament on February 23, 1961 – more than 4 years prior to his death — just as his last Will states. This was the same day that Lutcher established the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation with his wife, Nelda.
Thus, Lutcher’s final Will of February 23, 1961 was signed as a part of overall estate planning of a sophisticated nature that included the creation of a private foundation.
It is common for individuals who create entities such as nonprofit organizations, limited partnerships, private foundations or similar organizations to also execute a Last Will as part of such tax planning endeavors. In fact, the reason Lutcher Stark established the Stark Foundation was because of his objective to fund the Foundation through his Will, by leaving the remainder of his estate to the newly-created Foundation at his death. There were surely tax benefits to this planning, all of which were perfectly legal under the federal tax code in effect at that time. In fact, wealthy individuals today engage in this same type of planning.
Lutcher Stark would not have created a private foundation without having a corresponding intent to fund it. The primary funding occurred at his death through his Will, as reflected in his 1961 Will. In other words, it is preposterous to suggest that Lutcher Stark’s “real” Will left everything to his sons, since that would have contradicted all of the estate and tax planning that went into the creation of the private foundation. Instead, the point of all the planning was for the private foundation funding to occur through Lutcher Stark’s Will.
This is precisely why he signed his Will simultaneously with the creation of the Stark Foundation on February 23, 1961 (and, further, why “Mildred’s” tale of a deathbed Will in 1965 is baseless).
Mr. Stark’s Last Will was drafted by John Heard, a lawyer who specialized in estate planning at the well-known Houston law firm of Vinson & Elkins; it was not prepared locally by Frank Hustmyre (“George Kelly”). Mr. Heard also prepared the formation documents for the creation of the Stark Foundation. See evidence of Mr. Heard’s involvement on this in various correspondences pertaining to the Foundation organizational documents in Stark Foundation Documents under “Documents.”
Lutcher Stark’s Will was signed in 1961 by Lutcher on each page, witnessed by B.W. Stringer, M.E. White MD, and H.G. Turner, as stated on the face of the Will. According to eyewitnesses and those with firsthand knowledge of Lutcher’s execution of his Last Will in 1961, Nelda was not present in the room when Lutcher signed the document.
Did these witnesses and notary deny this fact when asked by the author? The answer is “no” because the author did not ask them about the Will. Again, the author has absolutely no proof that Lutcher Stark’s Will was forged, changed, or otherwise altered or that it was not executed on the date and in the manner that it recites. That is not hearsay from an unidentified person; that is fact. That’s why the courts would find no reason to doubt it.
As a reminder, Lutcher Stark’s Will was duly admitted to probate by the Orange County Court and was never the subject of any challenge.
98. The Book: Page 187: The fictional character “Mildred” says that “George Kelly,” a “…longtime judge and highly respected attorney who joined the Stark staff in the 1950s….” later committed suicide because he was “…haunted by any role he might have played in helping Nelda to take property that belonged to the boys.”
RESPONSE: “George Kelly,” as the author calls him, seems to be based on the late Frank “Dub” Hustmyre.
Judge Hustmyre was not a “longtime” judge.He only served as district judge of the 128th Court for a short period of time.
He was a highly respected attorney in Orange. He never did “join the Stark staff”, as the author asserts more than once (pgs. 187 and 188). Instead, he maintained his own law firm and worked in the private practice of law in Orange.
Judge Hustmyre did serve as outside local counsel for the Stark office from time to time but he did not draft Lutcher Stark’s Will and he was not involved in specialized estate planning issues for the Starks. As noted in Item 97 above, an estate-planning specialist at a prominent Houston law firm prepared Lutcher Stark’s Will in 1961, along with the formation documents for the Stark Foundation.
Of significance, Judge Hustmyre’s death occurred in 1975 (documented by local newspapers and other legitimate sources), TEN YEARS after the death of Lutcher Stark in 1965 and more than SIX YEARS after Homer and Bill Stark signed receipts in 1969 acknowledging that they had each received $1 million in tax-free money from Lutcher Stark’s estate under his Will.
If Judge Hustmyre were truly “haunted” by the way Lutcher Stark disposed of his estate under his Will and if such “remorse” led to Judge Hustmyre’s suicide, why then a 10-year gap? The dates are simply irreconcilable with the story told by the mysterious “Mildred.”
The more likely explanation for Frank Hustmyre’s suicide, according to Hustmyre family members, pertained to the circumstances at the time with both his health and his career. Frank was experiencing significant health problems, including a colostomy. Further, in the early 1970s, Frank had been appointed to fill a district judge seat that was vacant in Orange County, but when he ran for election to that bench later that year, he lost that race against his former law partner. These health and career issues seemingly weighed heavily on him during that time in the 1970s, much more so than anything that allegedly occurred more than 10 years prior to that time.
And since no property of Lutcher Stark had ever “belonged to the boys,” there was no such property for Nelda Stark to “take” which, in turn, means that Judge Hustmyre could not have helped Nelda take something that was not there to remove. [In fact, it was Nelda Stark who suggested to her husband that he make a bequest of $1 million each to his adopted sons, as Lutcher had initially made no provision for them as a result of the numerous lifetime gifts that he gave (see Items 83, 130 and 143) as well as the financial assistance he provided to them in connection with various business endeavors.]
99. The Book: Page 187-188: “The strange thing was Nelda…was there [at Judge Hustmyre’s house when he shot himself]…Makes you wonder if it was really self-inflicted…what did he tell Nelda before he pulled the trigger? Something had to be really wrong to cause ‘Eleanor Kelly’ [Mrs. Hustmyre] to leave Orange behind and never look back.”
The author goes on to imply on p. 188-89 that “Eleanor Kelly” (the judge’s wife) knew much about the Stark offices since her husband had “joined the staff”; …enough to question Nelda’s actions or motives the night George Kelly died.”
RESPONSE: Frank Hustmyre committed suicide at 8 am on a Sunday morning. He did not die at “night”, nor was Nelda Stark at his home at the time he killed himself early on the morning of April 6, 1975.
Rather, Judge Hustmyre was at his residence alone with his wife, Evelyn, who was preparing breakfast at the time. These facts have been confirmed by surviving family members of Judge Hustmyre. And it could have been confirmed by Evelyn Hustmyre, who was still living when the author was crafting her story.
As far as Mrs. Hustmyre’s subsequent move away from Orange after the suicide, according to family members, Evelyn Hustmyre chose to move to Dallas after her husband’s death in order to be close to her own kinfolk who lived in that area. She had no children or descendants and, while some family members of her late husband remained in the Orange area, members of her more immediate family were not.
Surviving Hustmyre family members remained close with Evelyn Hustmyre, and they have confirmed that she never said anything negative, derogatory or otherwise critical about Nelda Stark, either before or after Frank killed himself. In fact, Mrs. Hustmyre was interviewed in connection with the 1988 lawsuit, and at no time did she ever even insinuate that Nelda was involved in, caused or contributed to the death of Frank Hustmyre. To the contrary, Mrs. Hustmyre noted in the interview that Nelda had been kind to her after Judge Hustmyre’s death and had assisted her in various ways.
Nelda was close in age to Frank, and the two of them had been acquainted for most of their lives, having grown up four blocks apart from each other in downtown Orange. Frank Hustmyre and Nelda Stark were friends and, as a friend of the family, Nelda was called about Frank’s suicide and she responded by going to the Hustmyre house to help the family after the incident. Despite her private nature, this response illustrates how caring and generous Nelda Stark could be.
100. The Book: Page 189: The author relates another story by the mysterious Mildred about the “misdirected proceeds” from a $25,000 life insurance policy on the life of Lutcher Stark, writing that Nita Stark was named as the beneficiary “which meant Homer and Bill should receive the money as her heirs.”
RESPONSE: Any layperson who has ever dealt with beneficiary designations on life insurance policies or beneficiary designations in general should know the basic principle by which they are governed, which is that insurance proceeds are directed to the designated beneficiary as named by the insured. And if the named/designated beneficiary is deceased, then the proceeds pass to the alternate/secondary beneficiary as named by the insured.
In no event do such proceeds pass to a deceased beneficiary’s heirs or estate beneficiaries. Any insurance agent or representative can confirm this fact.
If an alternate beneficiary is not named for whatever reason, then the proceeds would pass by default to the estate of the insured for handling by the insured’s executor under the residuary clause of the insured’s Will. This is precisely what would have occurred in the scenario described by the author.
If indeed an “overlooked” life insurance policy existed on Lutcher Stark that named Nita Stark as primary beneficiary, then it would obviously have been purchased prior to Nita’s death in 1939 (because, otherwise, it would not have named her as beneficiary). At that time (pre-1939), Homer and Bill Stark were obviously minors and could not have been designated as alternate beneficiaries of the policy.
Fast forward to 1965: If indeed such policy was located after the 1965 death of Lutcher Stark, then the insurance proceeds due would have been payable to the alternate beneficiary, since the primary beneficiary (Nita Stark) had been dead for more than 25 years. And since no secondary beneficiary was specified, the proceeds were then payable by default to the Estate of Lutcher Stark via its executrix, Nelda Stark.
It is absolutely incorrect from a legal perspective to claim that, if a designated beneficiary on a life insurance policy is deceased, then the proceeds should be paid to the heirs of the deceased beneficiary.
If such a policy existed and if Nita Stark was designated as primary beneficiary, then the correct procedure would be to notify the insurance company of the prior death of the named beneficiary and direct the company to remit the proceeds to the executor of the estate of the deceased insured for distribution under the insured’s Will. In this case, if Nelda Stark received such proceeds, she did so in her capacity as executor of her husband’s estate – the default beneficiary of the policy – which is the correct result. The insurance company would not have released the funds otherwise.
Any letter from Clyde McKee (attorney) to the insurance company with statements advising the company of Nita’s prior death and identifying Nelda as the widow of H.J. Lutcher Stark would be correct from both a substantive and procedural perspective.
If Nelda then “received the money” as the author alleges, she received it in her capacity as executrix of Lutcher’s estate, for the reasons explained above, and not in her individual/personal capacity as the author suggests. Regardless, Homer and Bill Stark would have had ZERO entitlement or legal claim to any insurance proceeds under the scenario described because they were not named as alternate beneficiaries after Nita on the policy.
101. The Book: Page 196: "…there was only once when they were caught…you know…kissing."
RESPONSE: This allegation is based on hearsay from the statement of a third party who, in turn, attributes it to a “young man”. The “young man,” not surprisingly, is not identified by the author and his statement was not independently verified by her. Who is the witness? Where is he? Why wasn’t either he or the third party named?
102. The Book: Page 197: "Margaret’s car was always in front of Eunice’s house at 6:30 each morning – – that is, until she retired a few years ago and started coming at 7."
"Nelda didn’t like it one bit…."
RESPONSE: “Margaret Sadler” — as the author chooses to name this person — retired in 1985, which was more than 25 years ago.
Nelda could have cared less that “Margaret Sadler” visited with Eunice in the morning to drink coffee. Eunice was an early bird and was having breakfast and reading newspapers by 6 a.m. These people, and Nelda, were all friends, so what is the relevance of this?
103. The Book: Page 197: "[Rebecca/Rachel] had no idea…how unhappy her grandmother had been.”
RESPONSE: Really? Those close to Nelda Stark knew it was the plague of endless lawsuits and claims brought by Rebecca Nugent and her family members that made their stepgrandmother, Nelda, so unhappy during the last years of her life.
104. The Book: Page 198: "I always thought it a bit odd that you hardly ever heard anyone speak of [Ruby].”
RESPONSE: There is probably no one alive today who knew Ruby Childers Stark. Homer and Bill were away in the service during the brief time Ruby was married to Lutcher Stark.
Nelda saved as mementos many personal items that had belonged to Ruby. But Rudy died in 1942 and had been dead for (a) more than 50 years at the time of Nelda’s death in 1999 and (b) nearly 60 years at the time of Eunice’s death in 2008. As time passes, it is part of the natural process that we may talk of the deceased less frequently.
105. The Book: Page 198: “Ruby was Homer and Bill’s mother.”
RESPONSE: This statement cannot possibly be substantiated, as there is ABSOLUTELY NO PROOF.
See Items 9, 30, 33 above and 106 below, as well as “Mills Twins” tab on www.thestarktruth.org, regarding the biological mother and circumstances of the births and infancy of Frank and William Mills, later known as Homer and Bill Stark.
106. The Book: Pages 198-201: Here, the author again makes unsupported statements without any basis whatsoever that Ruby was the biological mother of Homer and Bill Stark and Lutcher was their biological father.
RESPONSE: Again, the author has no proof – no paternity test result, no maternity test result, nothing whatsoever — to substantiate these contentions,
She also tries to construe a scenario that would place Ruby in Tennessee at the time of the adoption of Homer and Bill, since a 98-year-old Jim Henderson allegedly claimed that the adoption took place in Tennessee.
It is true that Nita Stark likely retrieved the twins from a location in Tennessee, since she and Lutcher had used Mrs. DeVault, a “baby home finder” who was located in Johnson City, Tennessee. And, as it turns out, Mrs. DeVault did locate and obtain the twins from the Children’s Home Society of Virginia, which had legal custody of them. Mrs. DeVault herself was located just a few hours away down a major highway in the neighboring state of Tennessee. See information and documentation on Mrs. DeVault, including her official letterhead as well as a statue erected in tribute to her efforts on behalf of homeless children in Adoption of Mills Twins under “Documents.
Despite the location from which they were retrieved, Homer and Bill were adopted through a legal filing in 1925 in Orange County, Texas, with consent from the Children’s Home Society of Virginia, not Tennessee, as evidenced by the official adoption paperwork. See “Mills Twins” tab for more information; see Items 9, 30 and 33 above.
This type of scenario may make for a good soap opera, that’s all. In the process, the reputations of Ruby, Lutcher and Nita*** are treated without respect.
***With regard to Nita, by stating (but without offering any proof) that Ruby was the biological mother and Lutcher the biological father of Homer and Bill, the book creates suspicion that Lutcher cheated on Nita, the “love of his life” (p. 13), and committed adultery during his marriage to her. Also, this scenario would mean that Nita then took in and raised as her own the bastard children of an illicit affair between her husband and another woman.
Further, if any of this were true, it would mean that Ruby abandoned her children to an institution, ignored them for more than 15 years while they were raised by another woman, then married their father after all those years but still never acknowledged them as her own in any way.
The truth is that Homer and Bill Stark were born Frank and William Mills and were among at least SEVEN biological children of Bertie Mills — a single woman in Virginia who was apparently not able to care for any of her infants, including the twins, and who lost custody of them to the State of Virginia welfare system due to neglect. See “Mills Twins” tab for more information on the Mills Twins, their biological mother and their older siblings.
107. The Book: Page 200: "But the strangest thing of all– I never understood why [Nelda] posed as a nurse…"
RESPONSE: Nelda never posed as a nurse. She did, however, earn a bachelor of science degree from The College of Industrial Arts (“CIA,” now known as Texas Woman’s University) in 1930, where she majored in education with an emphasis in biological sciences. After graduation, she was an instructor in bacteriology at the nurse training school at Jeff Davis Hospital in Houston for two years. She later served for more than 10 years as a hospital administrator. She did not work as a nurse.
Significantly, there was no nursing degree in the late 1920s when Nelda attended CIA. See Item 144 below for further detail.
108. The Book: Page 209-210: Regarding the closure of Shangri-La by Lutcher Stark, Creswell said he was “not sure” of the reason for closure, but that “…[Lutcher] just lost interest…when he shared it with the public and they simply didn’t show any respect….Finally, he thanked them for coming and locked the gates."
RESPONSE: While associates know that Lutcher Stark was unhappy with the lack of respect many showed for Shangri-La, he finally closed the gardens after a severe ice storm devastated much of the property in January of 1958.
109. The Book: Page 210: "…he blamed Eunice for turning [Nelda] against Homer and Bill….[Eunice] was pure Benckenstein and Mr. Stark said that family had been a leech for years."
RESPONSE: Eunice Benckenstein had nothing to do with distancing Nelda from Homer and Bill; it was Homer and Bill who chose to not accept Nelda as their father’s wife. See letter from Lutcher Stark to Homer encouraging Homer to understand Lutcher’s choice to marry Nelda in Correspondence under “Documents.”
Also, Eunice was no “leech” – she had been well provided for by her husband and had no need to seek other resources.
110. The Book: Page 211: The author states that documents were burned during the 1988 lawsuit, specifically that Stark Foundation lawyers would “…go through the papers and pull the ones they set aside and the ones they wanted us to burn.”
RESPONSE: This allegation is completely false and has been rejected by the courts in the most recent lawsuits filed by the children of Homer and Bill Stark.
The truth is that no documents were burned during the 1988 lawsuit, nor did any attorneys direct any destruction of documents during any litigation. To the contrary, Nelda Stark and the Stark Foundation produced more than 400,000 documents to the Homer and Bill Stark families who were plaintiffs in that litigation.
Documents were burned in 1994, three years AFTER the 1988 lawsuit had been settled/resolved in 1991. The documents that were burned were all the duplicates (extra set of copies) of all of the 400,000 documents, which copies had been made for Nelda Stark during the 1988 lawsuit.
Since she also maintained the originals of the 400,000 documents, Nelda Stark determined there was no reason to also keep a duplicate set of copies of the same document, so she directed that Mr. Creswell and other employees take measures to cull the extra sets of the voluminous documents, which they did by renting a shredder. See copy of receipt for rental of shredder for massive document destruction project in 1994 in Miscellaneous under “Documents.”
After it became apparent that shredding efforts were too time-consuming, the documents were burned instead. See statements of Joe LeBlanc and Bill McLeod (former employees), along with equipment receipt, in Miscellaneous under “Documents” which confirm that, while documents were destroyed, this occurred years after the litigation had ended. There is nothing illegal or otherwise wrongful about document purging/storage management, especially in this case, when it occurred in 1994, more than 3 years after the 1988 lawsuit had been settled.
See more information on how these documents were handled in “Fictional Fable No. 5: The Ex-Security Guard Evidence is Competent, Controverting Summary Judgment Evidence”, starting on p. 24 of Plaintiffs’ Reply to Defendants’ Response to Plaintiffs’ Amended Motion for Summary Judgment under in Litigation Documents under “Documents.”
111. The Book: Page 213: "Remember how they turned Clemmie into a vegetable…?"
RESPONSE: Clemmie was not turned “into a vegetable”. She was 83 when she died and she had experienced a decline in health from natural causes. See Item 29 above.
112. The Book: Page 214: "Three people who died of food poisoning?”
RESPONSE: What three people? The only known food-poisoning death of anyone associated with the Stark family history is that of Ollie Drake O’Grady — who had been a nurse for Mrs. W.H. Stark and who had thereafter lived with her husband near the Texas-Mexico border. It is known by Nurse O’Grady’s former colleagues that she died from eating spoiled chicken at a restaurant in Mexico.
113. The Book: Page 230: “…[Rachel] began to realize [Lutcher Stark] created a fraudulent note to cheat his own sons out of their inheritance.”
The Book: Page 231: Discussion of the fact that the $400,000 note, one-half of which was owed by the Estate of Nita Stark to Lutcher & Moore Lumber Company, “…disappeared from the books” since it was on the 1945 ledger for the company but was not reflected on the 1946 company ledger.
RESPONSE: This allegation has never been proven in the courts because it is false.
Lutcher Stark was independently wealthy as a result of inheritance from his grandmother’s (Frances Ann Lutcher’s) estate and from his mother’s (Miriam Stark’s) estate. See Wills and Inventories of both women under “Documents.” It is beyond credible to imagine that he would have raised these two boys, provided generously for them, then tried to “cheat” them out of an inheritance that would have been insignificant in comparison to his fortune.
Further, for the reasons outlined in Item 34 above, the Estate of Nita Stark, while not “small”, was also not enormous. Thus, it is misleading to suggest that the adopted sons were due to receive a significant amount of assets.
The truth is that Homer and Bill Stark received what they were entitled to receive under their adopted mother’s Will. This was all documented in records, accountings and inventories prepared after Nita Stark’s death, including memos concerning the discovery of a dormant savings account that was then divided per Nita’s Will between Lutcher (who received his community property ½) and the twins (who received Nita’s community property ½).
In fact, the Nita Stark Estate was the subject of an extensive and comprehensive audit by the Houston accounting firm of Winkelman, Davies and Bakke, which issued a Final Report on March 31, 1948 (the “Winkelman Report”), nearly 10 years after Nita’s death. It shows that the administration of her estate was not hurried, rushed or concealed but was, rather, thorough, deliberate and well-documented. See Nita Stark Estate under “Documents.”
As executor, Lutcher Stark permitted Homer and Bill to choose what assets they wanted from Nita’s estate to satisfy the value they were entitled to (being ½ each of Nita’s interest or ¼ each of Nita’s community property interest). Not surprisingly, Homer and Bill chose liquid assets (cash) and jewelry over tangible personal property, such as art (including the Dou painting (“Sleeping Dog”) that the author makes such a commotion about on page 285). The division of assets, including receipts signed by Homer and Bill, is documented in the Nita Stark Estate records under “Documents.”
Not only have Texas courts rejected the assertion that a phony note was created, but the full records pertaining to Nita Stark’s estate are available for review. If any transaction were fraudulent, then it would not be set out in corporate records and ledgers.
The Lutcher & Moore Lumber Company (“LMLC”) records speak for themselves when viewed in their entirety and not piecemeal. And what those records show is that, like many individuals at that time, Lutcher and Nita Stark lived off of an “open account” with the lumber company (in this case, drawing money against earnings from LMLC).
As the earnings of Lutcher Stark from LMLC were community property, the advances represented a community property debt that was jointly owed by Lutcher Stark and Nita Stark (and, thus, by Nita’s Estate following her death). Indeed, an IRS audit of the Estate of Nita Stark determined that the debt to LMLC was community property.
As a result of Nita Stark’s death, her executor had to account for the balance of such advances through her estate-related accountings and inventories, so in order to ensure proper documentation, Lutcher Stark – at the recommendation of his accountant — converted the open account debt into Notes receivable from himself and from the Nita Stark Estate in 1942, so that the debt was in writing.
The LMLC records prior to 1942 (and even prior to Nita’s death) reflect the significant balance of the open account, while LMLC records for 1942 and beyond reflect the substitution of written Notes receivable, with a payment/credit to this debt in 1945 as a result of an asset transfer as described below. Indeed, the Inventory filed for Nita’s estate in 1940 in the Orange County Court reflects an “account payable” (or debt on open account) owed by the Estate, but that was prior to 1942, when the debt was converted to a written Note payable. The Winkelman accounting reflects that the account payable was indeed later evidenced by a Note. See Nita Stark Estate under “Documents.”
[Of significance and as further evidence of the “open account” arrangements at the time, the Inventory of Frances Ann Lutcher (d. 1924) reveals that she had an account payable of nearly $200,000 with the LMLC at the time of her death. See Inventory of Frances Ann Lutcher under “Documents.”]
The accounting for the Estate of Nita Stark shows the total balance of the LMLC debt amount due at her date of death to be $397,633.60, with the Estate’s one-half interest/liability at $198,816.65. Because the debt is accounted for as a community debt, the Note represented a community liability, meaning that the Estate of Nita Stark assumed liability for one-half of the debt, while Lutcher Stark remained liable for the other half of the debt.
Due to accrued interest, the total liability for the Estate was $210,547.27 as of 1945, and the debt remained outstanding until December 1945. See Nita Stark Estate under “Documents”, including the 1948 Winkelman Report of the Nita Stark Estate. At that time, the Nita Stark Estate settled the debt by the transfer of various assets from the Estate to LMLC. The assets “sold” to LMLC in payment of the debt included both publicly traded and closely held stock in various corporations, as well as certain parcels of real property.
Therefore, the reason the indebtedness owed by the Nita Stark Estate to the Lutcher & Moore Lumber Company (as evidenced by the Note) “disappeared” from the LMLC’s books is the same reason that indebtedness usually “disappears” from a person’s financial records: THE ESTATE’S LIABILITY UNDER THE NOTE WAS PAID OFF ON DECEMBER 15, 1945 through a transfer of properties and cash by Lutcher Stark, as executor of the Nita Stark Estate, to LMLC.
In other words, the Estate of Nita Stark exchanged a number of assets with LMLC for settlement of an approximately $210,000 debt (which exchange included land in Cameron Parish, LA that was later part of the Mecom transaction (see Item 83 above).
Also, see the December 15, 1945, deed transferring properties for the explicit purpose of “the cancellation of all the indebtedness of the Nita Stark Estate to The Lutcher & Moore Lumber Company” that was recited as being owed on an original Note in the amount of $400,000 under “Documents.” This is all confirmed by the Winkelman Report. And the 1945 deed to LMLC was signed by both Homer and Bill Stark. See Nita Stark Estate records under “Documents.”
Therefore, contrary to the author’s implication of deceit in connection with the fact that the Nita Stark Estate Note appeared on the Company ledgers for Years 1945 and prior, then “disappeared” from the 1946 Company ledger, this is PRECISELY what happened, as the Estate settled its indebtedness and paid off the balance it owed on the Note under the December 1945 transfer (after 1945 ledger, before 1946 ledger). Rather than evidencing deception, this very clear and concise documentation reveals the precision and accuracy with which the books and accounts were maintained and reported. See Nita Stark Estate accounts, audit and report under “Documents.”
It is also important to note that Homer Stark did not agree that his father had defrauded him. Rather, in his deposition testimony in the 1988 lawsuit, Homer was emphatic in his testimony that his adopted father “…would never intentionally cheat me or my brother no matter what… And that is the kind of thing I never wanted to see…in the paper.”
In her separate deposition, Ida Marie Stark — the widow of Homer’s brother, Bill — likewise testified that Bill never held any belief on his part that the handling of Nita Stark’s estate had been fraudulent, nor did he believe that assets from Nita Stark’s estate had been wrongfully converted to Lutcher Stark or otherwise improperly disposed of. Rather, according to Ida Marie Stark’s testimony, Bill simply felt as though he and Homer had a “birthright” and were “entitled” to certain property and status from a moral, not legal, perspective.
Unfortunately for Homer and Bill and their families, the distribution of estates in Texas is based on the legalities of Wills and probate as opposed to “birthrights” or what some may think is “morally right”. Lutcher and Nelda chose to give the bulk of their fortune in a manner that would benefit the community through the Foundation, and they each made that clear in their respective Wills. See Wills of Lutcher and Nelda Stark under “Documents.”
For further information, see “Fictional Fable No. 3: Tall Tales of Texas Timber” starting on p. 19 of Plaintiffs’ Reply to Defendants’ Response to Plaintiffs’ Amended Motion for Summary Judgment in Litigation under “Documents.”
114. The Book: Page 233: “One of the attorneys for the Stark Foundation/Estate, Richard Dyke…constantly looked for opportunities to manipulate the facts.”
RESPONSE: Another highly subjective statement. Attorneys for the Foundation had the facts and plenty of evidence for them on their side, so there was no temptation to manipulate them, even in contentious litigation. The courts accepted their arguments and rejected the allegations made by the litigants from the families of Homer and Bill Stark
115. The Book: Page 234: “Yes, the Stark Foundation was the plaintiff, having sued [the Bill Stark] family six months after Nelda died.”
RESPONSE: The Stark Foundation/Nelda Stark Estate did file a pre-emptive lawsuit against the Bill Stark family — but only after the attorney for Bill Stark family members first threatened to bring claims against the Estate/Foundation. The only relief sought by the Foundation was a “declaratory judgment” — that the court confirm that the release signed by the Bill Stark family members in the earlier litigation in 1988 was binding and barred any further claims by them.
116. The Book: Page 234: “Two years later, after avoiding any discovery at every turn, filing false information with the courts and continuing to operate the Foundation in a manner that violated the law, [Foundation lawyers] were here to argue their motion.”
RESPONSE: Where is the proof for such conclusions? Where are the facts? Where is the evidence? Neither the Stark Foundation nor the Stark Estate avoided discovery or filed false information with the courts. If that had occurred, then they would have been sanctioned by the court. That did not happen.
Further, if the Foundation recklessly ignored the law, it would have been sanctioned, sued, charged or otherwise penalized by the IRS, the Texas Attorney General and any of a host of other governmental agencies overlooking its operations. None of those things have happened either.
117. The Book: Page 236: "The truth was that Homer and Bill’s families never wanted anything that belonged to Lutcher or Nelda."
RESPONSE: Over the more than 20-year history of claims and litigation, Homer and Bill Stark’s families have wanted, among other things, the Roslyn Ranch; possessions from the home of Lutcher and Nelda Stark, including art; Shangri La; and the financial assets of the Foundation, especially money.
These are all assets that belonged to Lutcher and Nelda. These were never “Nita’s possessions” as evidenced by the Nita Stark Estate records under “Documents.”
118. The Book: Page 238: “…it became increasingly obvious that the Foundation attorneys made statements in court and in papers filed with the Court that were either not true or factually inaccurate. Plus it appeared they were participating in fraudulent activity of their clients…”
RESPONSE: What statements? What papers? What fraudulent activity? These are blanket allegations without specificity. The author is not able to articulate specific details because there are no such statements, papers or fraudulent activities, otherwise the Foundation would have been sanctioned – if not prosecuted – by the government. Further, the courts certainly would not have ruled in the Foundation’s favor had they found it had presented illegitimate evidence.
119. The Book: Page 240: “Months after Nelda’s death, Homer hired a lawyer for the first time in his life to pursue ownership of the ranch…”
RESPONSE: Homer was represented by a lawyer years before Nelda’s death when he joined the 1988 lawsuit that his children had filed against Nelda, pursuing claims of fraud and conversion of assets regarding the Nita Stark Estate. This resulted in a $2.5 million settlement to Homer Stark and his children in exchange for a full Release of their claims, so Nelda could get on with her life. (Years later, though, they retained the settlement monies for which the Release had been given, while simultaneously disregarding the Release. The courts granted summary judgment in favor of the Foundation, ruling that the prior agreement/settlement they had accepted prevented such action.
120. The Book: Page 241: “Anticipating transfer of the ranch to Homer, Patrick [Nugent] initiated planning [in early 2001] for a family limited partnership to manage the property.
RESPONSE: Whatever planning was “initiated” in 2001 did not involve the steps necessary for the legal creation of a family limited partnership. Rather, when the Roslyn Ranch was ultimately transferred (via sale at fair market value) to the “family limited partnership” in 2006, the partnership had just been created and certified by the Texas Secretary of State on November 2, 2005 (four years after the planning was allegedly “initiated”).
Further, the newly-created partnership (which was called “Stark Ranch, LP”) never managed the property and, in fact, barely owned it for even 24 hours. Instead, after dividing it into two tracts, the partnership “flipped” the ranch, selling it for a significant gain to multiple third-party buyers. See transfer history, including this 24-hour turnover of the Roslyn Ranch, under “Roslyn Ranch”.
121. The Book: Page 245: “…[representatives of the Stark Foundation do not have] the right to confiscate assets of another individual’s estate for their own purposes.”
RESPONSE: No one from the Stark Foundation has ever confiscated assets from any individual’s estate. The Stark Foundation was funded by its founders, Nelda and Lutcher Stark, with their assets when the Foundation was established in 1961 and later through the Wills of Nelda and Lutcher Stark at their deaths. The assets of the Foundation were owned without question by Nelda and Lutcher Stark.
Presumably, the book is referring to the Nita Stark estate (circa 1939, p. 236) when she refers to “another individual’s estate”. However, the Nita Stark estate (1939) preceded the formation of the Stark Foundation (1961) by more than 20 years. Therefore, representatives of the Stark Foundation did not “confiscate assets” of the Nita Stark estate as the Foundation did not exist at the time such estate was open and administered.
The Nita Stark estate was fully distributed and closed in the late 1940s. Neither the Stark Foundation (not yet created) nor Nelda Stark (not involved) had anything to do with the handling of the Nita Stark Estate.
Regardless, the assets of the Nita Stark Estate were in order according to the independent audit and final report of the Houston accounting firm of Winkelman, Davies and Bakke, and they were distributed per Nita Stark’s Will to Homer and Bill Stark, among other authorized beneficiaries. See receipts and releases of the beneficiaries, plus other estate assets records from the Nita Stark estate under “Documents.” See Winkelman audit and report in Nita Stark Estate under “Documents.”
122. The Book: Page 246: “…[the visiting judge] hated the drive back to Houston in late afternoon traffic.”
RESPONSE: How does the author know this? Did she talk to the judge? If so, why didn’t she quote him? If not, that may mean that the author is again “modifying” things.
123. The Book: Page 247: Quote from Malmonides (sic) that precedes the first paragraph: “Do not consider it proof just because it is written in books…”
RESPONSE: This quote from Spanish philosopher Maimonides precisely captures the point of this outline and should be on the front and back covers of the author’s book as a disclaimer.
124. The Book: Page 254: “…this woman [Rachel/Rebecca Nugent] who spent years discovering new documents for the case and reviewing thousands of papers produced the first time around. She had a right to be mad, considering the conspiracy and fraud uncovered in the process.”
RESPONSE: Rebecca Nugent did not spend years discovering “new documents;” instead, she finally got around to looking at the 400,000+ documents that the Foundation and Nelda Stark had voluntarily given to her in the 1988 litigation filed by family members of Homer and Bill Stark. Those documents had apparently been crammed in a mini-storage unit for years.
No conspiracy or fraud was uncovered, as evidenced by the rejection of such claims by both Texas and Louisiana courts. If “this woman” is “mad,” it is not because Homer and Bill’s families did not receive justice in our judicial system.
125. The Book: Page 258: “…the Foundation refused to honor Nelda’s gift of the ranch to [Homer}…”
RESPONSE: Nelda did not make a gift of Roslyn Ranch to Homer. See Items 52, 53, and 120 above and Item 158 and 162 below. See also “Roslyn Ranch” tab on www.thestarktruth.org.
With regard to the prior allegations involving Roslyn Ranch, see “Fictional Fable No. 4: The Riddle of Roslyn Ranch” starting on p. 21 of Plaintiffs’ Reply to Defendants’ Response to Plaintiffs’ Amended Motion for Summary Judgment in Litigation under “Documents.”
126. The Book: Page 263: Reference is made to the Dou painting (“Sleeping Dog”), with the author stating that the painting was not listed as part of Nita’s estate.
RESPONSE: Not only was the Dou painting listed as part of Nita Stark’s estate, it was appraised by American Appraisal for purposes of her estate inventory (valued in 1939 at $600). It was also among the assets presented to Homer and Bill Stark for them to choose when Nita’s estate was distributed.
Because the painting was community property — and clearly listed as such on Nita’s estate inventory — one-half belonged to Nita and the other one-half belonged to Lutcher. Since tangible items of personal property (such as a painting) are not cut into halves on distribution, they are distributed based on value.
In the case of Nita Stark’s estate, an extensive appraisal was completed of the contents of the family’s home (including paintings, furnishings, jewelry, etc) in order to establish values on the contents for the purpose of keeping a proper accounting of the subsequent distribution among Lutcher (who had a one-half interest) and Homer and Bill (who were to share Nita’s one-half interest, meaning each would receive a one-fourth interest.) See Nita Stark Estate appraisal under “Documents”
An estate beneficiary may either receive the actual object (with ½ of the value going to the other owner of the community property interest in the object) or the beneficiary may receive the value of the community property/half interest, with the actual object going to the surviving spouse who holds the other half of the community property interest.
Homer and Bill chose the latter — to receive the value of their share of the estate in cash from their adopted mother’s estate. According to the deposition testimonies of both Homer Stark and Ida Marie Stark in the 1988 lawsuit, both boys were given the opportunity to choose whatever items of personal property they wanted, up to the total value of their share of the estate. While Bill did choose numerous paintings (at least 14), he did NOT select the Dou “Sleeping Dog” even though it was included in the assets. (Note: Bill later sold two of the 14 paintings he had taken from the Nita Stark Estate back to Lutcher Stark for cash.) See Nita Stark Estate under “Documents.”
For Homer’s part, he testified in the 1988 lawsuit that he made a conscious decision and told Lutcher Stark at the time of the distribution that he “…didn’t want any paintings” (although he ended up selecting two) because he “…had no use for [them]”. Homer then acknowledged under oath that his adopted father, Lutcher Stark, did not hold anything back with regard to the paintings in the Nita Stark estate and, instead, made all contents and art available for selection by the boys, with Lutcher receiving “what remained” after the boys had made their selections.
In summary, the executor of the Nita Stark estate properly listed all tangible property of the estate in the estate inventory (including the Dou painting) and made the same tangible property available for selection by Homer and Bill as part of their share of the estate. Both boys specifically rejected the Dou painting, choosing instead to receive an amount of cash and jewelry that corresponded to the value of Nita’s one-half community property interest in the painting at the time of her death in 1939, per the appraisal.
Homer and Bill’s rejection of the painting meant that the actual painting went to Lutcher by default as the owner of the other half of the community property interest. It then passed through his estate to the Stark Foundation.
See Nita Stark Estate records under “Documents,” including inventory, appraisal, and independent audit report of Winkelman firm; see also “Sleeping Dog” tab. Also, see Item 145 below, and see “Sleeping Dog” tab under www.thestarktruth.org.
127. The Book: Page 269: “… Nelda Stark and the Foundation Board knowingly violated federal regulations for decades while representatives of the Texas Attorney General’s office…have chosen to protect the Foundation…They are part of the problem.”
RESPONSE: Neither Nelda Stark nor any member of the Foundation Board has knowingly violated federal regulations or any other laws for that matter, nor has the Texas Attorney General’s office been involved in any illegal activities involving the Foundation. There is no proof whatsoever to support this contention.
The Foundation has operated since its inception in compliance with applicable laws. For nearly 20 years of its operation (1973-1991), Homer Stark served as a director on the very Foundation Board that ”Rachal” accuses of engaging in knowingly violating “federal regulations for decades”. Homer’s, son, Lutcher “Jake” Stark, was a director on the Foundation Board as well.
Do “Rachel’s” allegations for wrongdoing now extend to and target her own immediate family as well as other, more remote relatives?
The role of the Attorney General’s office is to protect the public as ultimate beneficiaries of charitable trusts such as the Stark Foundation and ensure that such organizations are operated properly. This is what the Texas Attorney General has done.
128. The Book: Page 270: “[Rachel/Rebecca] rarely said anything that could not be substantiated.
RESPONSE: How many of the allegations, contentions and rumors in this book has the thinly-disguised Rebecca substantiated? Just take a look at the documentation referenced in and provided as a part of this review.
129. The Book: Pages 272-73: "…the Foundation showed no interest in using their monies to set up a significant scholarship fund for local students or improve the quality of life in a town that desperately needed the help."
RESPONSE: A total of $50,000 in scholarship monies is awarded annually as part of the Miriam Lutcher Stark Contest in Reading and Declamation, a qualified scholarship program sponsored by the Foundation. More than $250,000 is given annually by the Foundation to the Texas Interscholastic League Foundation for academic scholarships.
Further, the quality of life in Orange is without question significantly enhanced by the Lutcher Theater, the Stark Museum of Art, the W.H. Stark House and Shangri La Gardens, all of which are programs of the Foundation and all of which offer free educational, cultural and historical programs benefitting the city and region, with special programs for children and youth, internships, as well as employment opportunities. How can these very real, ongoing commitments to the community be seen as a demonstration of “no interest” in providing significant scholarships or improving the quality of life in our community?
130. The Book: Page 273: “[The Stark Foundation does] what they want with no regard for the Articles of Incorporation, the bylaws, Lutcher’s will or donor’s intent…”
RESPONSE: The directors and officers of the Stark Foundation absolutely adhere to the organizational instruments under which it was established and under which it continues to operate. Otherwise, the Foundation could be penalized in a variety of ways.
The Articles of Incorporation for the Stark Foundation – a Texas nonprofit corporation — recite the purposes of the Foundation to include those of an “educational and charitable” nature. These are very broad and standard categories typically listed in the establishment of nonprofit corporations.
Indeed, the Texas Nonprofit Corporation Act (under which the Stark Foundation was created) provides that nonprofit corporations “may be organized under this Act for any lawful purpose or purposes …[which] may include, without being limited to any one or more of the following: charitable…educational….”
Thus, “charitable” and “educational” purposes are among the broad categories for which organization of a nonprofit corporation is expressly approved by law. And these are the broad purposes expressed by Lutcher and Nelda Stark when they formed the Stark Foundation.
Nothing in the Articles of Incorporation document for the Stark Foundation limits the activities of the Foundation to make grants for “summer camps” or “music programs” and there is no mandate that the Foundation provide “underwriting repairs and maintenance of the First Presbyterian Church”. Nor is there any prohibition in the Foundation’s Articles of Incorporation regarding the operation by the Foundation of its own charitable or educational programs.
In fact, the Articles of Incorporation specifically authorize the Foundation “…to construct, establish and/or maintain a museum for the collection and exhibition of paintings…and other objects of art,” which it has done. See the Foundation’s Articles of Incorporation in Stark Foundation Documents under “Documents” and take notice of the broad purposes for which the Foundation was formed and, further, that such purposes are to be developed and implemented “…in the absolute discretion of the Board of Trustees….”
Just because one may disagree with the decisions of the Foundation’s directors concerning its grants, program operations and other expenditures does not mean that such activities are inappropriate, much less illegal. This is just another example of the author’s disgruntlement with the fact that Homer Stark’s adopted father directed most of his wealth to a charitable organization for the benefit of the greater community instead of to his adopted sons (recalling, however, that Lutcher Stark did not disinherit his adopted sons but left each of them $1 million in tax-free money in 1965, which is equivalent to $7 million each in 2010). See Items 36, 72, and 98 above and Items 157, 162 and 169 below for more information.
In addition to the death-time bequest of $1 million each, Lutcher Stark also gave his adopted sons numerous cash gifts throughout his lifetime, including a tax-free cash gift of $150,000 each in 1956 (which at that time was the equivalent of receiving $1.2 million in 2010 dollars). See 1956 gift tax return in 1956 Gifts under “Documents.”
In her testimony in the 1988 lawsuit, Bill’s widow, Ida Marie Stark, confirmed that Lutcher and Nelda Stark also gave Homer and Bill $2,000 each every Christmas and at least $1,000 each for every birthday; Lutcher and Nelda also gave the twins’ wives significant cash sums as gifts. All of these gifts were unrestricted and were in addition to what was distributed from the Nita Stark Estate.
Lutcher Stark also purchased lifetime annuities for both of his sons (as well as their wives) and both income and education annuities for their children, including Rebecca Nita Stark Nugent) in 1956, which was to provide them monthly income for a period of years, plus a money for higher education. See Item 83 above.
However, Bill and his wife, Ida Marie, even cashed out at least one of the annuities on the lives of their children, while that child was still a minor. See surrender of annuity for Randall Hill Stark in 1956 Gifts under “Documents.” The status of the other annuities is unknown – namely, whether they were held for income purposes or not, or used for educational purposes or not, by the named beneficiaries as intended by Lutcher and Nelda Stark as the benefactors.
131. The Book: Page 275 "…the Foundation actually sold art from the Stark Collection that was to be housed in the Stark Museum – even giving some of it away.”
RESPONSE: Any paintings that were disposed of were sold because they were not central to the purpose of the Museum (Western art) or germane to the primary collection items. Deaccession is very common in the museum world. Institutions build their collections by selling – at fair market value – items that are not central to their holdings and future direction.
132. The Book: Page 275: "…as it [Shangri-La] became a holding pen, a prison cell, for the wealthiest man in town."
RESPONSE: As noted in the open letter from the Board of Directors dated May 12, 2010 (on the Home page of www.thestarktruth.org), Lutcher Stark was never imprisoned at Shangri-La and would be outraged to learn that the pleasure he gained and solitude he sought during the time he spent in his beloved Shangri-La has been perverted by this tale and his treasured space characterized as nothing more than a prison cell. We believe it is insulting to everything Lutcher Stark stood for.
133. The Book: Page 275: “…Nelda kept the property [Shangri-La], a move that surprised the family since she never cared for it."
RESPONSE: After Lutcher Stark’s death, Nelda Stark continued to take drives through Shangri-La, and no one close to her ever once heard to say she did not like the property. In fact, she particularly loved the orchid greenhouse and would sometimes send orchids from there for special occasions. It was Lutcher Stark himself who gave the keys to Shangri-La to Nelda and declared in the accompanying card that the facility “…was built around you” and that “…no other woman will ever carry a set of these keys. Please keep them and use them whenever you wish.” See handwritten note card from Lutcher to Nelda with enclosed keys to Shangri La in Correspondence under “Documents.”
Before her death, she was pleased with the science classroom work in which science teacher Michael Hoke was engaging on Adams Bayou, so much so that she provided a tract of land for the project. He promoted the idea of public expansion of programs into Shangri-La, and both Nelda Stark and, later, the Board of Directors of the Foundation were very receptive to that concept, given the fondness that Lutcher and Nelda Stark had for the property.
This ultimately resulted in the establishment of Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, which is open to the public today and which provides free educational classes and tours to thousands of local schoolchildren each year.
134. The Book: Page 276: Referring to the development of Shangri La, the author states that “…both Lutcher and Nelda are probably spinning in their caskets in light of what was being done.”
RESPONSE: In light of the fact that Lutcher Stark first developed Shangri-La in the 1930s and 1940s, opened it to the public and allowed thousands of visitors to the property each year until 1958, it is much more likely that Nelda and Lutcher Stark would have embraced the new Shangri La.
135. The Book: Page 277: “Directors of the Stark Foundation have clearly decided to ignore the intent of its donors.”
RESPONSE: See Item 130 above and the Foundation’s Articles of Incorporation in Stark Foundation Documents under “Documents” as to the fact that the Foundation directors clearly operate within the very broad purposes expressed by the founders.
The intent of both Lutcher and Nelda Stark was that the bulk of their wealth be used for charitable and educational purposes (as opposed to the personal enrichment of any one person), as acknowledged in the deposition testimony of Homer Stark in the 1988 lawsuit.
Even the original Frank Mills – Homer Stark — understood the feelings articulated by Lutcher Stark regarding the responsibilities of Lutcher’s great wealth, as Homer agreed in his deposition testimony in the 1988 lawsuit that Lutcher “absolutely” had a strong feeling that his wealth needed to be used for the public good. Homer further testified that he (Homer) “…never quarreled” with that goal.
136. The Book: Page 277: “They have operated in darkness, knowingly diverting property and monies…and hiding behind the tax exempt status of the Foundation.”
RESPONSE: The Foundation does not operate in darkness, nor does it hide behind its tax-exempt status. To the contrary, the Foundation timely and fully reports its activities and assets to the IRS each year on Form 990-PF, which it has done for years. This return is available for inspection to anyone who requests it as well as on the world-wide web.
Not only are the Foundation’s operations and activities reported annually on a tax return that is available for public review, but the Foundation operates its own programs at venues that are open to the public for visits, tours, observations, etc. In other words, the operations of the Foundation are completely transparent.
In fact, even though there is no legal requirement for an independent audit of its operations, the Foundation annually obtains an independent audit from outside auditors, which have consistently confirmed that its operations are in order and that there is not so much as an inadvertent irregularity, much less any misdeeds of the magnitude claimed by the author.
Of note is another timing inconsistency; namely, in other parts of her tale, the author talks incessantly about the Foundation’s alleged diversion of property and monies that were supposedly due to Homer Stark from the Estate of Nita Stark. Nita Stark died in 1939 and her estate was fully distributed by the mid 1940s. As the Stark Foundation was not even established until 1961, the Foundation could not have possibly been involved in the diversion of any property or monies involving the Nita Stark estate.
See Item 21 above.
137. The Book: Page 279: The author includes a footnote regarding the Stark Foundation bylaws, which she claims prohibited the payment of compensation to board members.
RESPONSE: The Stark Foundation bylaws do not prohibit that directors be paid a reasonable compensation for their services. To the contrary, the Foundation’s bylaws have explicitly mandated that directors “…shall receive such compensation for their services…and for expenses of attendance at meetings, if any, as may be determined, from time to time, by appropriate resolution of the Board…” This same provision was retained (not added) in amendments to the Foundation’s bylaws in 2005. See Stark Foundation Documents under “Documents” for Foundation bylaws.
It is quite customary that directors of substantial organizations receive compensation for the amount of time that is demanded of them, as long as such compensation is reasonable. And the compensation levels set for Board members are in line with compensation paid to directors of comparable organizations.
Both the author’s father (Homer Stark) and brother (Lutcher a/k/a “Jake” in the book) received compensation for their service as prior board members of the Foundation for years without protest by them or by the author.
138. The Book: Page 279-80: The author describes her “idealistic nature” and recalls a time "…long past when people valued others, trust was more than an entry in the dictionary, and wealth was measured by friends rather than dollars."
RESPONSE: If the author ever held her purported idealistic nature expressed of valuing other people and holding trust in high esteem, it is certainly not manifested in her book.
To the contrary, by publicly disparaging the ancestors — as well as the loved ones, friends, colleagues and acquaintances of the ancestors — of Homer and Bill Stark, the author reveals very little value for such people.
139. The Book: Page 271: The book states that Lutcher Stark inherited a fortune instead of working for it.
RESPONSE: It is true that Lutcher Stark inherited much of his fortune – from his grandmother (Frances Ann Lutcher), then his mother (Miriam Lutcher Stark) – which is precisely why all of those assets were his separate property and NOT part of any community property he may have had with Nita. Again, it is a basic legal principle that assets inherited by an individual are the separate property of that individual and, thus, not shared jointly with that individual’s spouse.
Further, given the fact that Lutcher Stark inherited a fortune worth millions of dollars from his grandmother and mother, this begs the question as to why on earth would he care about “cheating” his sons out of their share of their adopted mother’s small estate, as the author alleges?
This makes no sense, and the author fails to explain or even address this threshold question.
Finally, just because he inherited much of his fortune does not mean that Lutcher Stark did not work hard. Indeed, he was an astute businessman who grew his fortune through smart investments and business transactions as well as wise money management.
140. The Book: p. 281: "The man who traveled the world…remained in his hometown…living in a house with his in-laws not much larger than the garage of his other home.”
RESPONSE: The author’s view of Nelda Childers’ childhood home is that it was poor and demeaning. This is not true.
The house was richly furnished with all the trappings of wealth. There were three bedrooms, two baths, a large kitchen, a living room that included the enclosed front porch, a den, and a dining room. There was a small bedroom and bath off the back porch, a finished attic on the second floor and a double carport on the back side of the property. This is hardly a small home. Regardless, many millionaires live modestly (Warren Buffet, for example, has lived in the same modest house for decades), which may well be one reason such people are millionaires.
Additionally, Lutcher Stark may have traveled the world, but he had “remained in his hometown” of Orange since his graduation from The University of Texas and his marriage to Nita, which was more than 30 years prior to his marriage to Nelda. This was his choice and his preference, and Nelda did nothing to change that; rather, she merely continued it with him.
This is because Nelda Stark was not driven by greed and never had a lavish lifestyle or any desire for wealth. She was a careful steward of the great wealth for which she was responsible. She rarely traveled, and she died in the same house in which she was born. She and Lutcher chose to move to the Childers home in 1944 in order to care for Nelda’s ailing mother and, thereafter, for Nelda’s elderly father, who lived until 1964. See letter from Lutcher Stark to Tommy Hughes dated January 1944 in Correspondence under “Documents,” which mentions this move.
The fact that Lutcher and Nelda, while newlyweds, moved into the Childers home to care for Nelda’s parents illustrates a level of maturity and responsibility, as well as selfless consideration, that the couple demonstrated. Their priority and perspective was on ensuring the proper care of elderly family members as opposed to the square footage or quality of finishes of their living quarters. In fact, Lutcher Stark was more than satisfied to live in the home, stating that he enjoyed living there because it was a one-story home instead of the multi-story homes he had previously occupied.
141. The Book: Page 281: "Instead of sitting up straight behind the wheel, he was slouched in the back seat so that you only saw the top of his hat."
RESPONSE: Lutcher Stark was behind the wheel — driving — for most of his days. In the 1950s, he had air horns mounted on his car, and he enjoyed blowing them when he was arriving. Long-time Orange residents can attest to this.
142. The Book: Page 282: "[Nelda] was just pure meanness, sure as I’m standing here.” The author attributes this quote to “Leona” the “family servant”.
RESPONSE: Leona Batchan was an employee of Lutcher and Nelda Stark. She had come to work in the W.H. Stark house when she was a girl, and she went on the summer trips to the Roslyn Ranch more than any other employee. Nelda Stark paid Leona’s back Social Security so that she could be eligible for Medicare and, when Leona was bedfast, Eunice Benckenstein oversaw her round-the-clock care. Leona Batchan was not antagonistic towards Nelda Stark, and it is impossible for those who knew her to imagine her saying such a thing.
143. The Book: Page 282: "Or to see what fine young men you raised…[Homer and Bill] would have made [Nita] proud…they enlisted and fought in the Pacific [in WWII].”
RESPONSE: Homer and Bill’s military service may have been a source of pride to their father.
But it was no secret that Lutcher Stark – an alumnus of The University of Texas and long-term member of UT’s Board of Regents — was disappointed that his adopted sons were not interested in pursuing higher education and that neither obtained a college degree after returning from their service in the military. Homer Stark’s wife, Becky, acknowledged this in her deposition during the family’s 1988 lawsuit.
Although he provided a significant amount of financial assistance to them — including a lump sum cash gift of $150,000 each in 1956, lifetime annuities with monthly income, and generous gifts of thousands of dollars every year for Christmas and birthdays (as testified by Ida Marie Stark in her deposition in the 1988 lawsuit) — those who knew him remember that Lutcher Stark wanted his adopted sons to make their own way as opposed to merely expecting a way to be provided for them. Regardless, neither of the adopted sons indicated a desire to work in the family business, as Bill primarily worked as a golf pro and Homer managed a yacht club.
Ida Marie Stark further testified in her deposition that Lutcher Stark told his adopted son Bill that Bill did not have the necessary business experience to work for one of Lutcher’s companies. And both Ida Marie Stark and Homer Stark testified in their depositions that Lutcher Stark had expectations that both Homer and Bill would finish college and was discouraged that neither did, with Ida Marie acknowledging that Lutcher Stark often said “I’m disappointed you boys didn’t go back to school.”
144. The Book: Page 284: "…[Nelda] acted like a nurse, hospital administrator, technician, or whatever else she claimed to be. But…her degree was in education, not biology…That black bag she carried around all the time was just for show….Seems like a stretch to make an education major a nurse in all those press releases.”
RESPONSE: The truth is that there were no nursing degrees granted by a college or university in the State of Texas prior to the early 1950s. Indeed, Texas Woman’s University (Nelda’s alma mater, known in 1930 as The College of Industrial Arts or “CIA”) did not grant a baccalaureate degree in nursing until 1954.
Before that time, a person wanting to be a nurse would have gone to a hospital-connected school — called a diploma school or training school — not a baccalaureate school. In other words, nurse training in Texas in the early to mid-1900s was not part of a higher educational setting and, instead, took place in service institutions (hospitals). As a result, nurses desiring to earn baccalaureate degrees faced challenges and, in the late 1920s (when Nelda was at CIA), it was highly likely that no one in the entire South would have had a nursing degree.
If a person interested in nursing wanted a college degree in the 1920s or 1930s, that person would have majored in a field such as education or biology. So, the book correctly states that Nelda Stark did not have a nursing degree…because there was NO SUCH THING at that time.
Nelda earned a degree that had many of the same aspects that the later baccalaureate degree in nursing had when it came into existence – a bachelor of science degree in education with an emphasis in biological sciences. In fact, her college transcript reflects that, in addition to taking education courses that would allow her to teach, she took numerous courses in biological sciences, including Botany 110, 120, 130, 231, 232, 332, 431 and 432; Biology 332; Bacteriology 231, 331, and 332; and Chemistry 131.
There is absolutely no evidence that Nelda Stark falsified her academic background or failed to complete requirements for a career involving biological sciences. Instead, the documented course load indicates that Nelda Stark was immersed in sciences and education courses in order to earn a degree that would give her practical and marketable skills that would lead to employment, as opposed to simply biding time and taking “fluff” classes to land a husband.
The degree that Nelda obtained from CIA (later, TWU) was well suited for her being an instructor in bacteriology for a hospital school (being the Jeff Davis Hospital in Houston, Texas; see Item 107 above) and, later, a hospital administrator (at Lutcher Hospital in Orange). Most hospital administrators are not nurses.
Of note, it was Nita Stark who called Nelda while Nelda was working in Houston and asked Nelda to come to Orange and take the administrator position at Lutcher Hospital. Nelda traveled to Orange, interviewed with Nita, got the administrator job in 1932, and ran the hospital for 11 years.
Regardless, Nelda Stark never held herself out as a nurse nor was she referred to as a nurse (despite her work as an instructor in bacteriology at a nurse training school at a Houston hospital – see above). The author fails to produce one single press release that has described Nelda as a practicing nurse. People who knew her at the time recall that she was referred to her as a lab technician or a hospital administrator.
The TWU Nursing School in Houston was named for Nelda Stark because of a $3 million grant from the Stark Foundation, not because she said she was a nurse (just as the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports was named for Lutcher Stark because of a significant grant from the Stark Foundation, not because Lutcher ever held himself out as a kinesiologist.)
By the way, the only time friends recall that Nelda Stark carried a black bag was for trips, and it held first aid supplies.
145. The Book: Page 285: “Remember that little painting with the dog [Nita] bought in Frankfurt – in 1927…Somehow all those paintings [Nita and Lutcher] bought ended up in Nelda’s inventory. The lawyers said they were ‘lost’…Anyway – that little painting [of the sleeping dog] …just sold for $4.7 million…, although the Foundation thinks they are entitled to [Nita’s] half.”
RESPONSE: As previously discussed, the “Sleeping Dog” painting by Gerard Dou was acquired by Nita and Lutcher Stark during their marriage and was community property. Because it was community property, Nita Stark owned one-half and Lutcher Stark owned the other half.
This has never been disputed – ever. In fact, Nita’s one-half interest in this asset was clearly listed on multiple documents, inventories, audits and accountings in the Nita Stark estate. See Nita Stark Estate records under “Documents”, including the independent appraisal report and estate inventory.
Nita’s one-half interest in the Dou painting (and the corresponding value of that one-half interest at the time of her death in 1939) was among MANY assets listed as part of Nita’s estate to be divided between (1) Homer and Bill and (2) Lutcher (since Lutcher still owned his half of the community property assets). Both Homer and Bill were given “first choice” as to which property they wanted from their adopted mother’s estate.
The allocation/partition instrument CLEARLY shows that both Homer and Bill chose cash and jewelry over art objects, including the fact that they elected to NOT take the Dou painting as part of their distribution, even though it was explicitly listed. At the time of Nita’s death, the painting was appraised at $600 – it obviously increased in value over the next 60 years.
As far as the Foundation being entitled to the Dou painting, this is a fact. Because neither Homer Stark nor Bill Stark elected to receive the Dou painting as part of their distribution from the Nita Stark estate, Lutcher Stark received 100% interest in the Dou painting by default. As a result, Lutcher Stark owned 100% of the painting, and it ultimately passed to the Stark Foundation at Lutcher Stark’s death, PER HIS WILL. See Item 126 above for more information; see distribution/allocation ledger from Nita Stark Estate under “Documents.”
Wishful thinking and regrets about something that an ancestor did or did not do (in this case, Homer Stark’s choice to not select the Dou painting, as part of his distribution) does not make the transaction illegitimate, fraudulent or otherwise questionable.
146. The Book: Page 286: "Combined with the list of persons who had died of food poisoning, some mysterious illness or disappeared, everyone was on edge."
RESPONSE: There is no “list of persons” who died of food poisoning. If there is, who is on it?
And the only individual we are aware of who purportedly disappeared was the Homer Stark family’s own hand-picked DNA expert! Actually, no details have been provided on this technician’s identity or “disappearance.”
Could it be that this story began after the family’s DNA tests failed to support its claim of a biological connection between Lutcher Stark and the Mills twins? See Items 9, 30, 33 and 106 above; see also “Mills Twins” tab on www.thestarktruth.org.
147. The Book: Page 287: “….what she thought might be one of the biggest fraud cases…”
RESPONSE: What the author claims is a fraud is based, in part, on her ridiculous contention that Homer and Bill are part of the blood lineage of Lutcher Stark and his ancestors. They are not.
See Items 9, 30, 33 and 106 above regarding the adoption of the Mills twins from a Virginia children’s institution and the circumstances of their birth, including the identity of their biological mother. See also “Mills Twins” tab on www.thestarktruth.org.
This is as much as admitted with the explanation of a “vanishing DNA lab technician” and “non-DNA results” on page 291.
148. The Book: Page 287-288: “…[Lutcher Stark] was at risk of losing half the fortune he carefully acquired through luck, timing and power…[H]e used all the money and power at his disposal to funnel assets from [Nita’s] estate to his control. Actions that went into overdrive when he married Nelda.”
RESPONSE: Lutcher Stark was not at risk of losing half of his fortune as a result of the death of his wife, Nita.
As discussed repeatedly in other responses above regarding the Nita Stark estate (see Items 34, 61, 113, 126, 139 and 145 above), Lutcher Stark’s fortune was his own – he acquired it through inheritance and it was his sole and separate property and, thus, it was not part of his first wife’s estate and therefore not subject to disposition under her Will.
Because Lutcher Stark had his own separate fortune (from multiple inheritances from his ancestors), he had NO NEED/NO REASON/NO MOTIVATION to “funnel assets” from his first wife’s estate. Not to mention, Nita’s estate was quite small in comparison with Lutcher’s vast fortune.
This takes the reader back to the threshold question asked in Item 139 above: Why on earth would Lutcher care about “cheating” his sons out of their share of their adopted mother’s small estate.
These statements reveal another timing inconsistency. The author alleges that Lutcher Stark’s efforts to divert Nita’s (nonexistent) assets and control her estate went into “overdrive” when he married Nelda. However, Nita had been dead for more than 4 years when Lutcher married Nelda and, by that time, Nita’s estate had largely been distributed. See Nita Stark Estate records under “Documents.”
Homer Stark himself acknowledged in his deposition testimony in the 1988 lawsuit that neither Nelda Stark nor Eunice Benckenstein had anything to do with the division or handling of Nita Stark’s estate. Ida Marie Stark said the same thing in her deposition testimony.
149. The Book: Page 288: "It was a scheme driven by greed that became a tale of betrayal so unthinkable….”
RESPONSE: The author asserts a “scheme” but has no evidence; thus, this is her viewpoint. Ours is quite the opposite, as it is the book that is “driven by greed” and has resulted in a tale that is an unthinkable betrayal of the memory of a father, uncle, adopted grandfather, and widow of an adopted grandfather.
150. The Book: Page 290: “The Texas Attorney General’s office…took no action when it was called to their attention that [Nelda] had cheated the Foundation out…of properties.”
RESPONSE: The Texas Attorney General’s office took no action because nothing occurred that was actionable. Nelda did not cheat the Foundation out of any properties. Why would she do such a thing to an organization that she not only established but to which she left most of her assets?
151. The Book: Page 291: “All that stress to exhume her [adopted] grandfather’s body ended with no real surprises. The drug test came back within two weeks as inconclusive…But the man assigned to run the DNA test had simply disappeared…no forwarding information…Eight months later, [the lab] notified the family the sample was found in a paper sack in a cabinet.”
RESPONSE: The DNA tests must have been a complete letdown and utter disappointment to the author and her family members — otherwise they would have been revealed by the author.
The author, however, cannot admit this, since so much of her contentions, rumors, and innuendos hinge on a biological connection between Lutcher Stark and the Mills twins (Homer and Bill) that simply does not exist. So, she conceals the truth with more “modification” and implies that the Foundation is somehow responsible for the lab technician’s disappearance.
What does the lab that was responsible for the test say? If the DNA technician disappeared, was his/her disappearance reported to authorities?
Such lab procedures do not depend on a single employee at a reputable lab. Was it reputable? Certainly, it should have been since the author made a point to say earlier in her tale (p. 128) that she and her family had made great efforts to hire an out-of-town pathologist and that they were taking “no chances”.
DNA analysis is quite sophisticated today and with all the spectacle of the exhumation of the bodies of W.H. Stark and H.J. Lutcher Stark, surely the author and her family located a reputable firm. Further, DNA samples last for years.
No details about the procedure are known to the Foundation, including who, when, what, where, when — because it was not even aware of the exhumation procedure itself at the time it was sought. See Cause No. A-010, 145, Ex Parte: Rebecca Nugent, et al, in the 128th Judicial District Court of Orange County, Texas, including Petition to Obtain Genetic Samples.
Could it be that the DNA results did not prove what ”Rachal” and her group have claimed regarding the parentage of Homer and Bill Stark?
Because the author refuses to concede that this particular road was a dead end, she instead offers a bizarre excuse about a disappearing lab technician and discarded samples in paper sacks. Really?
See “Mills Twins” under www.thestarktruth.org; see Items 9, 30, 33, 106, and 147 above.
152. The Book: Page 293: "Lutcher spent his last years as prisoner of his own wife. While he languished behind locked gates in his garden [Shangri-La], his most trusted employees looked the other way as Nelda took over.”
RESPONSE: This preposterous claim has been previously addressed – see Items 65 and 132 above.
153. The Book: Page 294: "…Nelda, Eunice, Clyde, Walter and all the others who traded conscience for power and money.”
Page 299: “With power and greed in spades, Nelda, Eunice and Clyde operated below the radar, above the law and without conscience. Now Walter followed suit.”
RESPONSE: If these individuals had traded their “conscience for power and money” or operated “above the law and without conscience,” then the Stark Foundation would not exist today.
But it does exist and it holds and manages the wealth that Nelda and Lutcher Stark accumulated for the philanthropic purpose they envisioned and expressed when they created the Foundation in 1961.
The Stark Foundation was established and continues its operation today because of the principles and scruples of Nelda, Eunice, Clyde and Walter — not in spite of them. Their dedication to charitable endeavors and compliance with the law, along with their collective disregard for personal power and money, is at the heart of a very noteworthy organization that has made a positive difference in thousands of lives. The author herself recently acknowledged the Foundation’s status as being listed among the Top 100 foundations in the United States based on its assets, which is an outstanding achievement that reflects the very prudent and proper management of the organization’s assets and contradicts claims mismanagement or misconduct.
154. The Book: Page 295: "…Nelda took notes and developed a plan to win over the richest man in town and his substantial holdings."
RESPONSE: Nelda Stark never aspired to great wealth. See Item 140 above.
The book seems to characterize Nelda as a money-hungry diva, but then fails to explain or reconcile the fact that she lived a modest life — which included living and dying in her childhood home — and created a charitable organization to which she gave most of her wealth.
So, what would have been the motive behind Nelda’s alleged plan? Also, remember that, rather than planning to win over Lutcher Stark, Nelda repeatedly refused to marry him for more than a year.
155. The Book: Page 295: "It was an uncomfortable thought for Rachel, picturing Ruby’s happiness at being married to Lutcher only to die prematurely in the care of her younger sister."
RESPONSE: Ruby Stark had advanced breast cancer, which claimed her life. See Item 13 above. See death certificate of Ruby Stark under “Documents.”
It is likely that this disease, which claimed her life, was not announced in the newspaper because the custom at that time in the early 1940s frowned on speaking publicly about breast cancer. See Item 13.
156. The Book: Page 297: "…but eventually [Lutcher] stopped coming at all [to Cameron Parish to hunt and fish]."
RESPONSE: In his more mature years, Lutcher Stark became more involved in Shangri-La and with collecting. His health and age prevented long days of hunting and fishing.
157. The Book: Page 300: “Homer and his brother were victims of a vast conspiracy created by a small inner circle of family and friends.”
RESPONSE: Homer and his brother were anything but victims. Rather, they were extremely fortunate to have been rescued from an infancy/childhood of uncertainty in a group children’s home and adopted into such a prominent family where their every need was met. Certainly, as the Foundation defended itself and the legacy of Lutcher and Nelda Stark in courtroom after courtroom, “Rachel” and her family members would have prevailed if they were “victims of a vast conspiracy.” They did not. They lost.
Lutcher alone owned the fortune at issue. And Lutcher’s Will, which was never challenged in any way, explicitly divided his estate with bequests of $1 million cash each to Homer and Bill, a certain amount of property to Nelda (his wife of more than 20 years), and then the rest to the Stark Foundation. That is a choice, not a conspiracy.
That free will was exercised by Lutcher Stark, not created by a “small inner circle”. And being beneficiaries of a tax-free gift of $1 million cash in 1965 (equivalent to $7 Million Dollars in 2010), as Homer and Bill each were, does not exactly seem to make them “victims.”
158. The Book: Page 300: “…it still wasn’t about money to Homer…there was so much good that could be done…that could make a difference for the people, especially the children, in Orange. All he wanted was the family ranch, his personal belongings that had been stored for him, and an active voice in the Foundation.”
RESPONSE: If it wasn’t about the money, then why did Homer Stark join a lawsuit filed by his family in 1988 against Nelda Stark that sought money damages? Why did he then take $2.5 million from Nelda Stark to resolve the 1988 lawsuit filed by his family; why did he take another $1 million from her estate at her death?
If Homer and his family really believed that there was so much good that could be done and that could make a difference for the residents of Orange, especially children, why did they not use part of the millions of dollars accumulated from Nelda and Lutcher over the years to do just that?
As far as his longing for the “family ranch”, see Items 52, 53, and 120 above and 162 below; see also “Roslyn Ranch” tab under www.thestarktruth.org.
Homer Stark’s family did acquire the Roslyn Ranch in 2006, largely as a result of a “deep sentiment” and longing that Homer Stark and his family insisted they had for the Ranch. However, less than 24 hours after the Ranch was sold to them on March 23, 2006, at fair market value, the Homer Stark family partnership promptly subdivided it and sold it in separate parcels on March 24, 2006, to separate buyers for a huge gain.
As far as his desire for an “active voice” in the Foundation, see Items 57 and 58 above. Homer Stark DID SERVE on the Foundation Board — at the request of Nelda Stark, no less – for nearly 20 years, beginning in 1973. However, he created a conflict of interest for himself when he joined the lawsuit against the Foundation. His active participation in a lawsuit against the Foundation prevented his continued board membership on the Foundation Board, according to the Texas Attorney General, which has oversight of charitable trusts such as the Stark Foundation.
As far as any “personal belongings,” numerous items were given to Homer by various individuals over the years. See Receipts and Releases in Nita Stark Estate and Lutcher Stark Estate under “Documents.” These include many pieces of his adopted mothers’ jewelry, his adopted father’s ring, and the portraits of Homer and Bill, which were taken from the foyer of the W.H. Stark House and given to the twins on request.
The author herself even acknowledges that Nelda Stark gave Homer’s wife, Becky, “dozens” of photographs of the Bengal Guards at practice from decades before, which gave Becky Stark “wonderful reminders” of the past (p. 288). Nelda Stark was thoughtful and generous with such personal belongings.
But as far as sentiment? That is debatable. Bill’s portrait was auctioned at Simpson’s in Houston, while a Kleiser print that Lutcher Stark had commissioned was hanging for sale around 2002 in an antique shop in St. Louis, Missouri. And much of the carnival glass, a full-length fur coat that Nelda Stark had given Becky Stark, and even a photo portrait of Nita Hill Stark on her wedding day were part of a garage sale(s) held by Homer Stark’s children after Homer and Becky had both died, according to people who attended the sale.
159. The Book: Pages 303-312: The author describes a fantasy sequence on the day of the summary judgment hearing in the 2000 litigation held at an Orange County district court. The author’s version of the hearing involves the presence of a media crew and officials from the Treasury Department, so-called “settlements” with the IRS, arrests of Foundation employees and lawyers, and closure of the Foundation offices and venues.
RESPONSE: The truth is that, after the summary judgment hearing in Orange County, which did occur, the judge ruled in favor of the Stark Foundation on all claims and allegations. The judge also awarded attorneys’ fees and costs in favor of the Stark Foundation and the Attorney General in the total amount of more than $600,000, which he ordered the Bill Stark family members to pay. See Orders from 2000 lawsuit in Litigation Documents under “Documents.”
Note: The amount of legal fees awarded by the court to the Foundation was the amount set forth on the court’s order — not “more than $1 million” as mentioned on p. 314.
160. The Book: Pages 314-316: The "magic box" is turned over to the IRS, Criminal Investigation Unit.
RESPONSE: None of this happened. Again, the author is fantasizing about vengeance for crimes and wrongs that never occurred.
161. The Book: Page 317 (Postscript): "What you have read is factual."
RESPONSE: Confused? We are. After beginning with the declaration that the “tale is based on documentation of narratives of true events and characters who may have been slightly modified”, then continuing with instance after instance of allegations without supporting evidence, and drawing near a close with a fantasy sequence, how can we conclude that what we have read is factual?
And by the way, before she finishes her sentence, the author says that the tale also “…represents opinions expressed by our family members…” (p. 317).
162. The Book: Page 317: “…Nelda Stark and Eunice Benckenstein — a pair of women who systematically planned the demise of not only of Lutcher Stark, but that of his sons — Homer and Bill.”
RESPONSE: Since the dead cannot speak for themselves, it is our obligation to defend them. Where is the proof in this tale of “slightly modified” reality, unsupported and outrageous charges and “opinions expressed by our family members”?
Nelda and Eunice did not plan the demise of Lutcher Stark, much less that of his adopted sons. Had “Rachal” had such evidence, wouldn’t she have brought it forward much earlier than in the postscript of this bizarre book?
Lutcher Stark: If Nelda planned the “demise” of Lutcher Stark, then she failed royally because Lutcher did not experience any downfall or ruin. To the contrary, after encountering tragedies in his earlier years with his prior marriages and after watching his adopted sons fail to show any interest in higher education or achieve the flourishing careers that he had desired for them, Lutcher found happiness in the later years of his life with Nelda.
Lutcher was married to Nelda for more than TWENTY YEARS, during which he perfected Shangri- La, established a notable charitable organization, provided critical leadership in civic affairs of Orange, conducted numerous business ventures, and enjoyed a happy life of traveling and collecting. When he died at the age of 77 years, he was a happy and extremely wealthy man.
Lutcher did not leave his entire fortune to Nelda but, after giving each of his adopted sons ONE MILLION DOLLARS tax-free cash at his death in 1965 – which is equivalent in 2010 dollars to $7 million each — he left certain property to his wife of more than 20 years and then he directed all of the assets that remained to charity.
That is not a “demise” but reflects a life well lived and a life that should be respected — for the significant and continued contribution and far-reaching impact it has had on thousands of people both then and now.
The Twins: The notion that Nelda and Eunice planned anything, much less a demise, with regard to Homer and Bill is not only new (and presented for the first time in the Postscript) but wholly unsupported. Again, one should ask the threshold question of motive – what would have been their motive? Neither of the twins had anything that Nelda and Eunice wanted and, by the author’s admission, the twins were only collaterally involved with their father, were not involved in the family business (due to lack of higher education and experience), and pursued their own activities at the golf course and yacht club.
Bill Stark: Bill Stark died from cancer in 1979 more than 30 years ago. Nelda was 70 years old at that time – what would she have gained from Bill’s death? As executrix of Lutcher’s estate, she had distributed $1 million tax-free cash to Bill per Lutcher’s Will, and she later helped Bill’s family with payment of the medical bills from his last illness. Despite that, Bill’s widow and descendants were part of the 1988 lawsuit against Nelda, which she settled by giving them another $2.5 million. (Bill also received a lifetime annuity from his adopted father, which Bill apparently cashed in for a lump sum payment shortly after receipt. See Item 83 above.)
Homer Stark: Homer Stark lived for nearly 10 years after Nelda’s death in 1999; he died in 2008. Before that, he received a $1 million bequest (tax-free cash) from Nelda’s estate, which was in addition to the $1 million he had received from his adopted father’s estate in 1969. (Homer also received a lifetime annuity from his adopted father, which Homer apparently cashed in for a lump sum payment shortly after receipt. See Item 83 above.)
As opposed to a “demise”, Homer experienced a windfall because of Nelda Stark: She gave him $2.5 million in 1991 to settle his family’s first (1988) lawsuit, she left him $1 million tax-free cash in her Will, and her executors worked out an arrangement with Homer that allowed him to legitimately acquire Roslyn Ranch. Homer outlived Nelda by nearly a decade with what, according to the author, was a long, happy marriage to his wife, Becky. This is hardly a demise.
163. The Book: Page 318: "[Nelda] and Eunice chose to stay behind in the hotel room as Lutcher visited art galleries in Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado without them.”
RESPONSE: Friends recall that Nelda and Lutcher Stark entertained many of the Santa Fe and Taos artists at their home in Orange and engaged in correspondence with them. Eunice had correspondence from the art dealer Jane Hyatt asking her to visit in the Lake Como region of Italy, from Mrs. John Younghunter, and from Pansy Stockton, Constance Kleiser, Julian Onderdonk and other prominent artists.
Jane Hyatt originally had her gallery business in the La Fonda Hotel and she would have appointments scheduled with favored artists for the day or days when Nelda and Lutcher Stark traveled through on the way to Colorado. Both Nelda and Eunice were very fond of art.
164. The Book: Page 318: “[Nelda’s] primary focus was money – and converting his assets to money as quickly as possible once he died.”
RESPONSE: Again, the book portrays Nelda Stark as someone after money. See Items 140 and 154 above regarding her modest lifestyle. Nor did Nelda Stark convert assets to money after Lutcher Stark’s death.
If this had occurred, then the Stark Museum of Art – with its vast collection of art objects – would not exist, nor would the W.H. Stark House with its extensive contents, furnishings and collections. If Nelda was only focused on money, would she have spent the enormous amount of money that was expended in constructing the Lutcher Theater for the Performing Arts, or given away the MILLIONS of dollars in grants – more than $40 million to be precise — that the Foundation awarded under Nelda’s leadership for education, health and social services?
Nelda did not convert assets to money. Instead, she preserved and protected assets and expended money to construct facilities to house and display the assets for the artistic, historic and cultural enhancement of the community. Anyone who lives in Orange or who visits Orange can confirm this with their own eyes by visiting the Stark Museum of Art, the W.H. Stark House and the Lutcher Theater.
165. The Book: Page 319: “What attracted [Lutcher] to Nelda, I’ll never understand…After he married her, everything he wanted to do, had to do and loved to do was taken away…” attributed to Homer Stark.
RESPONSE: If Homer did not understand Lutcher’s love and affection for Nelda, or his attraction to her, then it is not as a result of Lutcher’s lack of effort to communicate that affection.
Lutcher sent Homer a detailed letter just a few weeks after Lutcher had married Nelda, in which Lutcher communicated with his adopted son Homer about many issues, both business and personal. In this letter, Lutcher explained to Homer his (Lutcher’s) feelings about Nelda and his decision to marry Nelda. See letter from Lutcher to Homer dated January 1944 in Correspondence under “Documents.”
In the same letter, however, Lutcher made it clear that, while he would prefer that his adopted son accept his decision about marrying Nelda, he did not need Homer’s permission to make decisions about anything.
166. The Book: Page 319, footnote 1(*): The author again mentions the “creation of the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports at The University of Texas at Austin” and seems to imply that she and her family members had something to do with that effort.
RESPONSE: The Stark Center at UT-Austin was established with and primarily funded by the Stark Foundation with grants totaling more than $5 million.
While the author and her family members did contribute numerous items related to Lutcher Stark and, especially to his connections to the University of Texas — see Item 158 above — those contributions were made many months after the Stark Center had already been officially established as an academic research center at UT. The aim of the Stark Center is to focus on the enormous contributions made by Lutcher Stark to UT during the first half of the 20th century.
167. Back Cover: The Book: “…What began innocently enough as a family history now possessed all the elements of a Texas-size mystery.
“ Almost by accident, the Stark family turned to information long hidden by a conspiracy of silence…”
RESPONSE: The book was published this year (2010) after two decades of contention by the author and some of her family members with the Foundation. While the author may describe it origins as beginning with family history, others undoubtedly will see it as an effort to continue to attack the Foundation.
This is evident by the commencement of the “research” in the mid 1990s she says — which was just a short time AFTER the conclusion of the lawsuit that had been filed by the author and her family against Nelda Stark and the Stark Foundation in 1988.
And where is the FACTUAL evidence in this book of real “information long hidden by a conspiracy of silence?” The documents that the author says were “long hidden” were READILY PRODUCED TO THE AUTHOR and her family by Nelda Stark and Foundation as part of the 1988 litigation filed by the family members of Homer and Bill Stark. The 400,000 documents were not rooted out by the author, but were given to her as a result of the disclosure of the Stark Foundation and Nelda Stark. Nelda Stark and the Foundation literally organized two buildings of boxes, files and copy machines and, for the most part, permitted the author and her family members to review and copy whatever information they wanted. They chose to copy nearly all of the documents produced and did so.
In fact, the plaintiffs (the author and family) themselves acknowledge (p. 54) spending more than $200,000 for copies of documents that involved “meticulous accounting(s)” and “exceptional records”.
168. Back Cover Continued: The Book: “A path of unexpected twists and turns now placed them in the direct aim of a powerful organization fueled by money, absolute greed and survival – a group dedicated to perpetuating a legacy of lies endured by Homer and Bill since their mother’s death when they were 16 years old.”
RESPONSE: The “powerful organization” reference is presumably to the Stark Foundation. The works of the Stark Foundation obviously are not fueled by greed, and we can say without reservation the families of Homer and Bill Stark are not and have never been in the “direct aim” of the Foundation.
Instead, for a period of nearly 20 years, the Foundation was in the aim of litigation by Ms. Nugent and some of her family members. Now, to preserve the reputation of the Foundation, its founders and friends, we are responding to any array of new accusations and charges in this book.
Please consider that our position is supported by document upon document, evidence on top of evidence. A great deal of it is at www.thestarktruth.org. Moreover, we have posted the facts as we know them about “minor” details, such as the time and place of Lutcher Stark’s funeral, to “major” claims such as the Dou (“Sleeping Dog”) painting and, especially, the circumstances surrounding the births of the Mills twins, including their biological origin.
With the prior litigation and this current book, the Foundation has been attacked. Its response to the prior lawsuits and to the Mills tale does not constitute a “direct aim” but, rather, a responsive stance.
169. Back Cover Continued: The Book: “Armed with hundreds of thousands of documents, the family takes the final step in unveiling the truth surrounding those who cheated the family, their hometown of Orange and the United States government out of a billion dollar fortune, all while under the watchful eye of the Texas Attorney General’s office.
RESPONSE: Nelda Stark did not have a billion dollar fortune. Lutcher Stark did not have a billion dollar fortune. See Wills and Inventories. Where is the proof that the families of Homer and Bill Stark, the City of Orange and/or the U.S. government were cheated?
Homer and Bill Stark: The truth is that Nita Stark, the Mills twins’ adopted mother, was not a millionaire and left an estate of less than $400,000. Homer and Bill received their respective shares of their adopted mother’s estate. See Receipt and Release in Nita Hill Estate under “Documents.”
The truth is that Lutcher Stark, while a millionaire many times over, left his adopted sons a specific bequest of $1 million each; Homer and Bill received every penny of the $1 million that Lutcher Stark willed to each of them. See Receipt and Release in Lutcher Stark Estate under “Documents.”
The truth is that Nelda Stark, while a millionaire many times over, left Homer Stark a specific bequest of $1 million. Homer Stark received every penny of the $1 million that Nelda Stark willed to him. See Will of Nelda Stark under “Documents.”
The truth is that the families of Homer and Bill Stark were each enriched by another $2.5 million as a result of their claims and litigation against the Stark Foundation and Nelda Stark in 1988. The truth is that the family partnership of Homer Stark was enriched by approximately $800,000 as a result of the partnership’s division and sale of Roslyn Ranch less than 24 hours after the partnership’s purchase of the Ranch. See Roslyn Ranch tab.
City of Orange; U.S. Government: The City of Orange has been blessed beyond measure by the active presence of the Stark Foundation in Orange since the Foundation’s establishment in 1961. The Stark Foundation venues (the Stark Museum of Art, The W.H. Stark House, the Lutcher Theater, Shangri La Gardens, Stark Park) bring a level of culture, history, education and nature to the City of Orange that is unparalleled in any other city in the world of its size (less than 20,000).
In addition, the Foundation has provided community enhancement grants to the City of Orange over the years to improve the quality of life in the area by improving streets, combating deterioration, and establishing a variety of other programs.
Anyone can look at the numerous tax returns and corresponding taxes that have been paid to the U.S. government to see whether the Foundation has fulfilled its obligations there. Of course, the federal government often does that itself, auditing both individuals, corporations and charitable organizations.
Texas Attorney General: It is true that the Texas Attorney General’s office maintains a “watchful eye” over the Stark Foundation just as it does all charitable organizations that operate in Texas. The Attorney General’s office is charged with this responsibility by law under the Texas Property Code, which gives that Office authority to intervene in a proceeding involving a charitable trust (such as the Stark Foundation) “…on behalf of the interest of the general public….”. The citizens of Texas should rest assured that the Attorney General’s office has an entire Charitable Trusts section that is tasked with oversight of charitable entities in Texas.
While the author implies that the Texas Attorney General engaged in some sort of improper, unethical and/or illegal behavior, the truth is that the Texas Attorney General’s office has previously observed the operations of the Stark Foundation and has found no impropriety. In so doing, the Texas Attorney General’s office intervened in the prior lawsuits on behalf of the public in order to defend the baseless claims of Stark family members who were unsuccessfully trying to obtain more assets and money from the Foundation. The Attorney General sought to ensure that the Foundation and its assets were protected and preserved for the continued and future benefit of the public, which is why the Foundation cannot just give money away to litigants who demand it.
See Attorney General’s letter reprinted on pages 334-335 of the author’s book, in which the Chief of the Charitable Trusts Section of the Attorney General’s office commends the Stark Foundation on an “excellent job in protecting the assets of the Foundation” from the claims of Homer Stark and collateral family members”.
170. Back Cover Continued: The Book: “From untimely deaths, questionable use of drugs and ongoing fraud, to money laundering, tax evasion and racketeering, all the evidence was there of a deception engineered by the most unlikely of partners.”
RESPONSE: All deaths that occurred over the course of the lives of Lutcher and Nelda Stark were the direct result of old age, illness/disease or a combination of the two. This is documented in all death certificates under “Documents.”
Any use of drugs was of prescribed medication, such as the Phenobarbital that was PRESCRIBED to Lutcher Stark by his doctors at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, starting in the 1950s and continuing for nearly 10 years thereafter.
There is absolutely no evidence of any “ongoing fraud…money laundering…tax evasion…racketeering….” These are claims made with no credible evidence because they are untrue. Were there even a shred of evidence to support them, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as governmental agencies such as the IRS, would be involved. They are not and have not been.
POSTSCRIPT REGARDING APPARENT PUBLISHER OF IF THE DEVIL HAD A WIFE:
The author’s tale is published by “Roslyn Group LLC”.
This name is presumably derived from and/or in reference to the Roslyn Ranch in Colorado. This was the property that Homer Stark’s family was adamant be sold to them because of a deep sentiment and longing they had to obtain and maintain the property, but which they divided up into various tracts within 24 hours of purchase from the Estate of Nelda Stark and sold to the highest bidders for a significant gain. See “Roslyn Ranch” tab for more information.
The Roslyn Group LLC was established as a single-member limited liability company by Homer P. (“Patrick”) Nugent, son of Rebecca Nugent, on December 21, 2009. Patrick Nugent is the sole member of the Roslyn Group LLC, according to paperwork filed with the Texas Secretary of State. See Miscellaneous under “Documents” tab for more information on Roslyn Group, LLC.
In other words, the “publisher” of If the Devil Had a Wife is an entity that was formed by the author’s son in late December 2009, which in essence indicates that the book is self-published.
It is sad that, after the amount of time that has passed and the amount of prior litigation that has been pursued to no avail, the author remains fixated on disparaging the Foundation – past and present — based on nothing more than a misguided sense of entitlement along with an absolute rejection of Lutcher Stark’s philanthropic achievements.
In the process, the author is not only causing damage to innocent bystanders, but to the reputations of the members of her own family as well. No amount of vengeance, bitterness, desperation, or anger justifies the author’s misguided efforts, which have the effect of damaging an outstanding organization that serves a community long abandoned by her.
The author needs to close the book, literally, on this chapter in the life of the Homer Stark family.
To the extent the author is truly interested in the family history of Frank Mills, she should head back to Virginia and search anew for the real truth about Frank Mills and his relatives in and around Radford County, Virginia, including the author’s biological grandmother, aunts, uncles, and numerous cousins and other collateral relatives.
 Because the errors in the Mills book are so numerous, it is impossible to address all of them in this responsive document. Consequently, this document is not comprehensive in nature. Just because a particular item in the Mills book may not be addressed, however, does not necessarily mean it should be considered accurate as written in the book.
 While the cover of the book names the author as “Frank Mills,” the author has revealed her true identity to be Rebecca Stark Nugent — one of the daughters of Homer Stark, who was born as Frank Mills before his adoption by Lutcher and Nita Stark. See Item 33 below for more on the Mills Twins. Because Frank Mills is deceased and because Ms. Nugent has said that she is the book’s author, references to the author in this document are to the feminine gender.
 According to Black’s Law Dictionary, the term “Ex parte” means “on one side only”; a judicial proceedings is said to be ex parte when it is taken at the instance and for the benefit of one party only, and without notice to, or contestation by, any person adversely interested.
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