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Country Girl at Heart Serves as Fortune 500 Company Treasure

By Staff | Nov 25, 2015

Brenda Crowder

Stanley Starkey raised a large and successful family on the virtues of knowing right from wrong and the value of hard work.

“The backbone of this country is the family,” said Starkey, 85, of Middlebourne.

He said the secret of success is that, “You be sure to teach them right and wrong. And always have good thoughts about people. Treat people like you want to be treated.”

Eight children five daughters and three sons now grown – are successful in their owns ways in the career fields they decided to pursue. Their names are John Wayne and Betty Jane, who are twins, Larry Joe, Patty, Kathy, Michael, Linda and Brenda.

Starkey said when he was highway engineer for the state’s Department of Transportation, he would awaken at about 4:30 each morning.

“I did my best teach them the value of hard work,” he said. “I lead by example. And I never went to bed worrying about them because I knew they knew better than to get into trouble. But it was easier raising kids in the 60s and 70s than it is now.”

Though each child went onto success, one daughter in particular, Brenda (Crowder), stands out because she was featured recently in a top business journal. Global Finance reports that 50-year-old Crowder is among the “Who’s Who in Treasury and Cash Management” because she serves as treasurer of a Fortune 500 corporation Ferguson Enterprises Inc.

According to Ferguson’s website, the $11 billion company distributes residential and commercial plumbing supplies in the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Caribbean. The company, which is the largest wholesale plumbing supply distributor in the U.S., was founded in 1953 and is based in Newport News, Va.

Though Crowder lives and works in a Virginia metropolis of Hampton Roads, she is still a country girl at heart.

“I wouldn’t trade growing up in a small town for anything,” she said. “You get a sense of community and security from that. I’m proud to call West Virginia home.”

Crowder graduated from Tyler County High School in 1983 where she served as a member of student council and was a class treasurer. Looking back, Crowder said that maybe being treasurer and enjoying math classes in high school propelled her forward into accounting later at West Virginia University and into the business world. Her daughter, Courtney, is a second-year law student at WVU. A few months back when Glen Dale country music star Brad Paisley sang “Country Roads” at Mountaineer field, Crowder recalled how much “I loved that!”

Crowder said pictures of West Virginia decorate the walls of her office in Newport News, Va.

“If you ever come to my office,there is no doubt where I’m from,” she said. “I’ve never met anyone from West Virginia living somewhere else who doesn’t call West Virginia home.”

Crowder said she went far perhaps because of the lessons she learned at home about having a good work ethic, common sense and integrity.

Her advice, “Work really hard and always be honest and resilient. There will be bumps here and there, but be able to handle it.”

These values are not virtues that are necessarily taught everywhere, but remain part and parcel of her Tyler County experience, she said. True to her roots, Crowder still has some of the same friends she had while growing up in Middlebourne area.

“It is a beautiful little town filled with friendly, grounded people,” she said. “You have the same good friends year after year. I wouldn’t replace that for anything.”

Crowder gives her parents Stanley and Mary Jane, who passed away about 10 years ago a lot of credit for her success. Of her father, who she calls a few times more than a few times a week, she said, “My dad instilled within me a strong work ethic and sense of community.”

Starkey said of his daughter, “I’m very proud of her and what all my children have done. The best thing you can do for future generations is to leave a good family.”