Busta’s Family of the Week: ‘Reunited and it feels so good!’ A sweet family reunion

Vivian White, Jim Starr, their daughter Lareese White, and granddaughters Zoe and Lorenza.

Busta’s Family of the Week: ‘Reunited and it feels so good!’ A sweet family reunion
December 30
12:45 2020

By Busta Brown

“There’s one perfect fit, and sugar, this one is it. We both are so excited ‘cause we’re reunited. Hey, hey.”

 I choose these lyrics to the Peaches and Herb’s classic “Reunited” because it’s fitting for the beautiful story of radio legend Jim Starr and his high school sweetheart, Vivian White. 

“When I first saw Jim, we were attending James B. Dudley Senior High School in Greensboro and he was new in town. All the girls would go to Washington Street School to check out the fellas,” Vivian White said, while blushing and giggling. “I saw this extremely handsome young man standing in his yard and one of my girlfriends asked who is that? I said, I don’t know, but I want him. We met, started talking and our chemistry was perfect. He would walk me to school every day while holding my hand and carrying my books. We really enjoyed each other’s company. He graduated before I did, but he still would walk me home every day and we never stopped making googly eyes at each other,” she said, then turned and softly looked into Jim’s eyes.

I watched Jim as Vivian was speaking and his eyes never left his sweetheart. He had the look of the song that goes, “You’re just too good to be true. I can’t take my eyes off of you.” 

Vivian and Jim’s love grew into something too many of us had only read about in a romance novels, heard in love songs, or seen in a movie. They were inseparable. Shortly after Jim graduated from James B. Dudley High School, he received some bad news. “His mom got sick and he had to go take care of her. He said, I promise I’ll be back,” said Vivian. 

That was in 1966. Jim traveled to Patterson, New Jersey, to see his mother, but that didn’t stop the two lovebirds from talking every day. Jim’s mother regained her health and he enrolled at Willian Patterson University, where he received a degree in communications. Patterson, New Jersey, became his new home, but it wasn’t long before the legendary radio personality’s career took off. Jim was living his childhood dream. His radio career was thriving, but the traveling that came with it made it tough to maintain commination and a solid relationship. He worked for radio stations in Alabama, Maryland and Tennessee.

“I hadn’t heard from him in a while, so my sister and I tried to find him, but it was hard because he traveled so much,” said Vivian. The two eventually lost contact and began building separate lives. 

Vivian was a single mother of one and grandmother of two. She eventually got married, and so did Jim. 

“I felt an emptiness, Busta, because it wasn’t true love. After my 8-year marriage, I struggled with relationships, because I couldn’t find that chemistry with anyone else the way I connected to my sweetheart Vivian,” said Jim, as the two smiled at each other like teenagers. 

Vivian and her husband of 20 years divorced as well. “No one could fill up my heart the way Jim does, so I never stopped thinking about him. I still had love in my heart for Jim. I spent so many nights wondering what he was doing,” she said. 

Nearly 50 years later, the reuniting began. “When I returned to North Carolina, I told my friend I needed to find Vivian, so he did some research on Facebook. He sent me a picture and then asked me, ‘Is this her?’ I said, ‘Yes!’ She’s still gorgeous,” said Jim and then Vivian blushed and laughed. While still laughing and blushing, Vivian boasted, “It felt wonderful to know I’m still gorgeous to Jim.” 

He wrote Vivian a letter, requesting that she contact him. She called and invited him over for dinner. “When I pulled up to her place, I was too nervous to get out of the car. My friend said, ‘You came this far, so you have to go for it.’ I got out of the car and walked to her door and just stood there for a few minutes. Then I rang the doorbell and when she opened the door, she looked exactly the same. Absolutely gorgeous! Her beauty and presence still make me nervous, and she’s the only woman that does that to me,” he boasted. 

Vivian’s eyes were locked on her man, yet I could tell she was anxiously waiting to share her story as well. “When I saw Jim, I almost passed out and tears came down my eyes. I grabbed him and gave him a big hug and kiss. I said, ‘You kept your promise and came back to me.’ But I didn’t know it would be a half century later,” she joked.  

Over 50 years later, the high school sweethearts were finally reunited. The lyrics of the Peaches and Herb classic continued to run rapidly in my head: “I spent the evening with the radio, regret the moment that I let you go. I know now that I love, and ‘cause I need your touch. Hey, hey.” 

Vivian said it seemed as if time had frozen the day Jim left, “… and I was so excited to just touch his face again. It was a wonderful moment. And I haven’t’ calmed down yet. I’m still excited by my man.” 

There was another reason Vivian and her sister went to New Jersey searching for Jim years ago. It would change Jim’s life forever. After the two lovebirds talked for hours, her doorbell rang. Lareese White and her daughters Zoe and Lorenza walked into the house. “When I walked into the house and saw him sitting on the couch, I knew it was him. It was like looking into a mirror, because I look just like my dad,” said Lareese. Vivian said Lareese has always known about her father, but because she lost contact with Jim, the two had never met. “This has been overwhelming. So, the day mom invited him over for dinner, I was fashionably late, because I wanted him to already be here,” joked Lareese. “I started crying of course, ‘cause I look at this man that had no clue who I was. It was a mixture of joy and pain. After I got past the initial meeting, it became one of the most beautiful moments in my 50 years of living,” said Lareese.

“I always wanted to have a family, so when I saw my daughter for the first time, I was in tears. It was the greatest gift God and Vivian could have ever given me. I call Lareese Baby Starr now, and Vivian calls her and my two granddaughters the Starrlets. They’re the loves of my life. Sitting here between my two loves is amazing. It’s the greatest joy,” said Jim Starr. 

“My mom and dad are always so lovey-dovey, like two teenagers. It’s sweet to see how much they truly love each other,” said Lareese.

Jim, Lareese and his granddaughters have developed a wonderful relationship. He visits nearly every day, and they enjoy making dinner together. “She cooks for Jim all the time. She spoils him,” said Vivian with a cute little grin.

So, what’s next? “This is our first holiday and we’re looking forward to bringing in the New Year together. After COVID is under control, we’re going to plan our wedding date, because we want to share that moment with all of our family members. There are so many people that are very happy for us,” said Vivian. After a 50-year separation, the power of love continues to prevail. 

I sat there in awe of how happy they are and the lyrics from The O’Jays classic, “Family Reunion” came to mind: “It’s so nice to see all folks you love together. Sittin’ and talkin’ ‘bout all the things that’s been going down. It’s been a long, long time since we had a chance to get together. A family reunion.” 

My phenomenal Family of the Week, Jim Starr, his future wife Vivian White, and their daughter Lareese White.

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