Pastors' Memoirs

Richard William Buckingham, 1911-1997

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Richard was the son of Richard Thomas and Cora French Dudley Buckingham. He was born at home at 1525 29th Street, N.W., (Georgetown) Washington, D.C., on August 14, 1911. His parents were devoted to the Methodist Church and his great-grandfather was ordained as a Methodist circuit rider in 1814. Rich grew up in the "old Baltimore Conference of the Southern Church" and was an active Epworth Leaguer in the local church, the district and in the conference. He was graduated from American University in 1934 and received his Master of Divinity degree from Drew Seminary and joined the Baltimore Conference in June of 1939. His first appointment was to St. Mary’s Circuit, Maryland. Years ago, that congregation presented Richard with a cemetery plot where he was buried on May 11, 1997.

On September 23, 1939, Richard married Muriel Barbara Earl in the Hempstead Methodist Church, Long Island, New York. From their union they had three wonderful children: Barbara, David, and Mary. Both Rich and Muriel count their lives blest with their children and their children’s spouses: Dr. Michael Bowermaster, Linda Cook Buckingham and Richard Maturi. In addition, each of their children have had two sons: Thomas and Lewis Jones, Jonathan and Paxton Buckingham, and Craig and Matthew Maturi. And there are two great-grandchildren: Amanda and Marc Jones.

In addition to his pastoral ministry, Richard enjoyed serving as a youth director and counselor in many summer programs. In the ’50s and ’60s he pioneered in the field of radio and television ministry. He shared friendship with a Jewish rabbi and a Catholic priest. The parsonage was a haven for the alcoholic, the hungry and the troubled.

In 1982-1985 when retired and living in Minnesota with his daughter and her family, he helped start a new United Methodist church under a lay pastor. Rich was the "associate pastor at $1 a year." He thus supplied the needed ministry of an ordained clergyman.

Richard had an optimistic outlook on life because he knew the Lord was by his side. He loved people and enjoyed working with them. He entertained his grandsons and other children with magic tricks. Another hobby was genealogy. After 15 years of research of their families, he with his wife published Prologue: A History and Genealogy.

His last illness came suddenly. It was discovered that he had a brain tumor and in seven days he was gone. There was no pain. His loved ones were with him at the end.

The Service of Death and Resurrection was held on May 9, 1997, at Epworth United Methodist Church in Norfolk with the Rev. Roy P. White officiating. The book from which the ritual was read was the well-worn one that Richard had used during his ministry. Chaplain Gerald H. Sargent gave a witness to his friend’s life. At the end of the service, Richard’s six grandsons were his pallbearers.

Wait for me, Richard. . .

- Muriel Buckingham



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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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