Buckson fondly remembered by family, friends

DOVER — Fond remembrances and tales filled the Diamond Room at Dover Downs in honor of the late David P. Buckson Sr. during a Celebration of Life on Monday night.

Listening to the many stories it would be easy to envision Mr. Buckson straining his neck if he were actually attending Monday’s celebration just to catch a glimpse of some of the harness racing action taking place on the racetrack at the same time.

After all, Mr. Buckson was the founding father of Dover Downs and — even with all of his successes in the political realm — also reached 300 victories as an owner, trainer and driver in harness racing.

Mr. Buckson, who died at age 96 at the Delaware Veteran’s Home in Milford on Jan. 17, lived a complete life.

He was an attorney, one-term lieutenant governor, governor for 18 days and a two-term state attorney general.

David P. Buckson is shown in 2005 next to a picture of Lookout Dapper Dan, a horse he bought for $1,000 that went on to win more than $100,000 in purses.

The crowd that filled the Diamond Room also heard him lauded as a loving husband to his wife Patricia, and as a father and a grandfather.

Gov. John Carney called the gathering a “special Delaware moment.”

“I didn’t know what to expect tonight,” Gov. Carney said. “I thought it was my obligation to be here as the governor of your state to celebrate the life of a true Delaware treasure and a real Delaware character.

“Most of the time when you come to a memorial event like this you’re more likely to get a frown from somebody than a smile. But as I went around the room and talked to people about Dave Buckson, everybody smiled.”

Entering the Celebration of Life, visitors got a chance to read some old newspaper clippings featuring Mr. Buckson and were able to view some snapshots of his life.

Eric Buckson, a Levy Court commissioner and one of Mr. Buckson’s five children, remembered his father through some of the writings he had put down on paper later in his life.

He read one of his father’s works titled “Friend.”

“Friend, what is a friend? How do you define it? Where does it end? To answer the last question, the answer is a true friend is there forever.

“There are times when it is tested and there are times when it is rested, but in the end there’s still that true friend.”

Eric Buckson said it has actually been fun learning new things about his father over the past couple of weeks.

“It’s been a special journey over the last two to three weeks listening and talking to folks who’ve stopped me on the street, in a car, called me at home and sent cards,” he said. “The passing of Dave Buckson brought on a tremendous amount of conversation and great stories.”

Marlee Buckson, David and Patricia Buckson’s only daughter, said that every time she thinks about her father she sees snippets of her brothers.

In her brother Bud she said she sees her father’s “gift in storytelling,” in David a “stubborn, passionate harness racer,” in Eric “love for his family and ability to want to serve,” and in Kent “this poetic heart that I know he got from my dad.”

As for her, she said, “Maybe I got a little bit of everything from him. He has given me an amazing life and an ability to forgive.”

Kent Buckson told the crowd that, “It’s truly emotional to see so many people that I haven’t seen in so many years. It’s truly an amazing feeling and it definitely comforts our family during this time.”

David Buckson Jr. brought the Celebration of Life to a fitting conclusion when he spread some of his father’s ashes around the harness track.

“It’s fitting to spread a portion of my father’s ashes on the horse track at a place where he spent so many days and nights,” he said. “I am certain it would bring a smile to his face.”

Undoubtedly, so would many of the stories that were shared in his memory.

Like Mr. Buckson’s favorite singer, Frank Sinatra, he certainly did it his way.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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