World Croquet Federation
Hall of Fame
Jerry Stark was a larger-than-life character who made a tremendous impact on croquet both in and beyond the USA. There is no record of him owning a dog called Toto but that did not stop him from finding his own “yellow brick road” when he moved home.
After discovering tournament croquet in 1983, he quit a lucrative union job with General Motors in Kansas City, Missouri and travelled 1,000 miles to Phoenix, Arizona - to play croquet. That’s dedication for you!
Jerry got his break into international play in 1987 at the second Wine Country Invitational (later known as the Sonoma-Cutrer World Championship) and, in 1990, reached the semi-final of the second WCF Association Croquet World Championship at the Hurlingham Club in London. He had already made such an impression with his shorts held up by red braces and a huge grin surrounded by a ginger handlebar moustache and viking beard that his photograph made it onto the front page of the London Times newspaper.
Jerry was a member of 17 USA National Teams, competed in the WCF Association Croquet World Championship 10 times and in the Sonoma-Cutrer World Championship 10 times. He was a USCA National Champion five times and the winner of the inaugural Resort Invitational in Welches, Oregon. He was elected to the USCA Hall of Fame in 2000.
In 1989, Jerry was named Assistant Director of Croquet at the luxurious resort at Meadowood in Napa Valley, located in the wine country of Northern California. In 1992, he was promoted to Director of Croquet. He delighted in introducing guests there to what he called the "grown-up" game of croquet. At Meadowood, Jerry taught an average of 3,000 lessons a year—more than 60,000 lessons over the course of his career, establishing him as one of the sport’s most prolific and admired teachers.
Throughout the world, Jerry became the face of American croquet. As an ambassador for the game, he made friends everywhere with his infectious laugh and unvarying good nature. A giant bear of a man, yet gentle as spring cub, Jerry paved the way for other Americans to succeed in international play. It was a huge sadness for the croquet world when he passed away at the early age of 56 from cancer in May 2010.
It was a fitting tribute to his croquet career that, only six months earlier, he had been part of the first USA team to defeat Great Britain in the Solomon Trophy. It is a fitting tribute to him that the USCA National Association Croquet Championship is now played for the Stark Cup.