Tim Starkey, AKA "Tim Bootblack," passed away on November 9, 2013 at UMass Memorial Medical Center after a complicated course of illness and long hospitalization. He was 50 years old.
Tim was a dual titleholder and took both jobs very seriously. A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, he won the title of Mr. Boston Leather 2009. On May 30, 2010, at the International Mr. Leather (IML) contest in Chicago, he went on to win International Mr. Bootblack 2010. Tim was a member of Mama Sandy Reinbardt's Family ("Mama's Boot Masseur"), Delta International, and New England Leather Alliance. Through his years of service in the Leather world, he received a Fits Like a Glove (FLAG) Community Service Award and the 2009 Toronto Leather Impact Award. He was also nominated for a Pantheon of Leather Award. A dedicated Leatherman and BDSM activist, Tim traveled all over the United States and Canada to spend time with his Leather and Kink brothers and sisters. He could often be seen leading bootblacking classes or roundtable discussions, volunteering, or just having fun. Among his favorite hangout spots were Provincetown, Massachusetts, New York City and, of course, the Boston Ramrod.
Tim received a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) degree from St Joseph's School of Nursing in Keene, New Hampshire, and was also a licensed massage therapist. In the mid-1990s, he was Education Director at the Seven Hills Foundation, an organization for adults and children with disabilities. After that, he worked in a nursing home, for a brief time, before becoming a massage teacher and assistant administrator at SpaTech in Westboro, MA. At various times, he operated his own massage business out of his home. According to his close friend Franklyn Ponte, Tim started taking pottery classes a few years ago at the Worcester Center for Crafts and became a very talented potter. In addition to the usual plates and bowls, Tim loved making clay penis rattles!
Tim will be remembered not only for his dedication to the Leather/Kink/Bootblack communities, but also for his friendly, unpretentious nature and his warm, gentle, and generous spirit. As a bigger guy, his visibilty in the Leather world, combined with his unapologetic sense of sexual liberation, made a strong statement against the so-called "body Nazism" that we often see in the gay male community. While serving as Judge for the Mr. Ohio Leather 2013 contest, Tim became fast and close friends with Joseph "Rocky" McCombs, who would go on to win the contest. One of Tim's last escapades was to New York City with Joseph in early 2013. McCombs remembers, "Tim always took the time to talk to everyone and help everyone. At the last CLAW [Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend], this guy found me and told me that he felt like he never really fit in anywhere. I thought about Tim's speech at IML, and so I took the time to talk to this guy. As I was talking, Tim showed up. Tim and I spent the rest of the night welcoming him and explaining to him that he was 'at home' here. Since CLAW, this man has taken an active role in our community. Tim inspired leadership and had welcoming arms. I always carry that with me. He was a gentle soul taken too soon, but he lives in those who he spoke with and who he taught."
Tim Starkey is survived by his parents Joan and William Starkey, his older brother William Jr., his niece Sarai Starkey, all of Keene NH, and nephew Joshua Starkey of San Francisco. He was also godfather to Joshua, son of his good friend Deborah Ellis-Nailor of Henniker NH. Tim is also survived by his Leather, Kink, and Bootblack family internationally.