February 3, 2006
Hundreds of family and friends of Joe Buck gathered at Mary Queen of Peace Church on the Sammamish Plateau to celebrate the 78 vibrant years of Joe Buck. He was born on November 28, 1927 and raised in St. Mary's Parish where he later served as pastor. He attended St. Edward's Seminary and was ordained on April 30, 1952. He served as assistant pastor at O.L. of Perpetual Help, Everett and Holy Family Parish in White Center before being named pastor of O.L. of Sorrows, Snoqualmie, and then St. Mary's and O.L. of Guadalupe, West Seattle. He was twice elected President of the Council of Priests serving during the final tension filled years of Archbishop Connolly. He resigned from active ministry in 1974 and a year later married Dorothy Mae Koch. He worked as a nursing home administrator and later as parish administrator at Holy Family, White Center. He was active with the founding and activities at Mary Queen of Peace including writing a history of the parish, leading hymns at the 7:30am Sunday Mass, and as a major donor for the Eucharist Chapel in that church. Dorothy died of cancer in Feb., 2000 and in November, 2002 he married Joanne Girard a fellow parishioner at Mary Queen of Peace.
My primary contact with Joe was a 2 year period when I served as an officer of the Council of Priests with Joe as president. As secretary of the Council I had the challenging job of writing minutes of the meetings our officers had with Archbishop Connolly and often used the term spirited exchange to describe the interactions between Joe and the Archbishop. Joe was a natural leader for the priests and very effective as pastor of St. Mary's in the Central Area during the civil rights upheavals in the 1960's. He enjoyed skiing and power boat excursions into the San Juan islands. He was a most devoted husband to Dorothy and later Joanne with a lifestyle almost totally focused on his spouse. I reconnected with him during Dorothy's long illness and then had some quality time with him during his own final battle with cancer.
Tributes at his beautiful funeral that he lovingly designed himself highlighted his wonderful sense of humor, adventuresome spirit, and devotion to his spouses. Joanne's youngest son praised Joe for the gift he was to Joanne with his romantic spirit. We pay tribute to a man who exemplified the qualities of a married priest in his devotion to people, his church, and his spouse and family. Last week Julie and I visited the charming mining town of Jerome, Arizona near Sedona. In a gallery there an old movie poster caught my eye. It featured a cowboy movie "South of the Rio Grande" starring Buck Jones. The handsome star reminded me of another Buck as did the slogan for the film: Fighting for Love and Life. Those words could be a great epitaph for Joe Buck and his passionate spirit whether it was facing down Thomas Arthur Connolly or courting the two ladies that were the love of his life.