Maximilian (Max) Hugo Starcke, mayor, river authority executive, and businessman, son of Hugo and Ida (Eberhard) Starcke, was born at York's Creek (now Zorn), Texas, on November 11, 1884, the grandson of German immigrants. He attended Seguin public schools, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University), and a San Antonio business college, where he paid his way by working as a salesman for coal mines near Uvalde. In 1906 he became a clerk and secretary in the law office of state senator Joseph B. Dibrell of Seguin. His early business activities included subdividing and developing Sandia and Orange Grove, establishing a funeral home in Seguin, and organizing the Farmer's State Bank in Seguin. Starcke worked as an officer in that bank and its successor, Seguin State Bank and Trust, from 1917 to 1938. He served as an alderman in Seguin from 1909 to 1912 and as mayor from 1928 to 1938. As mayor, he built the city's first water-filtration plant and a hydroelectric power plant on the Guadalupe River. The main municipal park in Seguin, a show-place playground that Starcke built, is named for him. He also helped organize the Texas League of Municipalities (later the Texas Municipal League) and for several terms served as its president. He was president of the South Texas Chamber of Commerce for three years and served as director of the Texas Centennial of Statehood Commission. In 1938 Starcke was hired as first operations manager of the Lower Colorado River Authority. By then the authority's dam and power-plant construction program was well under way; Starcke's chief responsibility was to sell the electric power provided by the LCRA and make it as inexpensive as possible to communities in Central Texas and the Hill Country. In 1940 the LCRA's construction phase was largely complete, and Starcke was promoted to general manager of the LCRA, a position he held until December 31, 1955. Under his guidance the authority built two more dams and hydroelectric power plants on the Colorado River with proceeds from revenue bonds and extended its services to thirty-three cities and eleven rural electrification cooperatives in a 41,000-square-mile area.
In retirement, Starcke worked as a paid consultant to LCRA directors and management from 1956 to 1965 and as president of the Texas Water Conservation Association from 1957 to 1962. In 1962 the LCRA dam near Marble Falls was renamed Max Starcke Dam, and in 1966 Silurian outcrops near Llano, not previously recorded from Central Texas, were named Starcke Limestone in his honor. Starcke served on the Texas State Parks Board from 1961 to 1963 and on the Natural Resources Advisory Committee of the Kennedy-Johnson presidential campaign. He was a director of City National Bank in Austin and American State Bank in San Antonio. In Seguin and in Austin, Starcke was active in dozens of civic, professional, and social organizations. He served as president of the Seguin, South Texas, and Austin chambers of commerce. He was an Elk, a Mason, a Lion, a Rotarian, and a Son of Hermann. He was president of both the Texas Ten-Pin Bowling Association and the Texas Fine Arts Association. He served in 1956 as chairman of the Travis County delegation to the national Democratic convention. Starcke was a deacon at the University Presbyterian Church in Austin. He served as president of the Texas Colorado Lake Area Council of Girl Scouts.
Starcke was married to Meta Blumberg of Seguin from 1908 until her death in 1938; they had two daughters. In 1940 he married Evelyn Quinn of Ackerman, Mississippi, with whom he had one daughter. Starcke died in Austin on June 29, 1972.