Obituary of Richard Donald Buckingham
Richard “Reindeer” Donald Buckingham of Roanoke, VA has shuffled off this mortal coil. On Saturday, March 25, 2023, after battling cancer. He was preceded in death by his parents, Phyllis and Donald Buckingham; his cousin, Jane Stowe; and his ex-wife, Patsy Buckingham. He is survived by a son and a daughter.
Born on January 24, 1944 in Charleston, WV, his father worked for the Appalachian Power Company, installing Power Stations. They moved to Roanoke in 1948.
He graduated from William Fleming High School in 1962 and was a National Merit Scholar. He was in the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and the William Fleming Marching Band.
He earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Physics at Indiana University (Bloomington, IN) in 1966 and was a member of the Sigma Pi Sigma fraternity.
He earned a Masters of Science Degree in Physics from the College of William Mary in Williamsburg, VA in 1968, played in the Homecoming Band , and was in the Alumni Band for decades.
His first job was at the Naval Weapons Station in Yorktown, VA. He then went to work for NASA as a Quality Engineer, and was in the American Society of Non-Destructive Testing. He performed Non-Destructive Testing of Nuclear Reactors with holography, ultrasound, radiography, magnetic particles, He then went on to work for Martin Marietta/ Lockheed Martin as a Quality Engineer and performed Non-Destructive Testing on the external fuel tank of Space Shuttles, including the Challenger, which was devastating.
He had a great love of physics, math, and music. He performed in many bands and orchestras, masterfully playing bassoon, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, guitar, mandolin, and many other instruments. Aside from William and Mary Alumni Band, he played in the Roanoke Valley Community Band, the New Orleans (LA) Symphony Orchestra, Lynchburg (VA) Symphony, New Orleans UU orchestra and Choir, a number of Baroque Quartets, and sang in the Roanoke U.U. Choir, Lynchburg (VA) U.U. Choir,and the New Orleans U.U. Choir.
He was a “Dead Head”, a follower of the band “The Grateful Dead”, and had a great affinity for Jerry Garcia. He would pick up multiple instruments and jam along with the stereo, television and radio. He was a great dancer and was known in New Orleans for his antics. He was a volunteer at Jazz Fest in New Orleans for around 20 years. He also volunteered at Floyd Fest in Floyd, VA. His daughter volunteered at Floyd Fest with him. She worked for the Burning Man Festival in Nevada, and Richard volunteered at Burning Man in 1998, working on the Nebulous Entity as an honorary crew member.
He was an avid photographer and had a great love of nature, taking photographs all over Virginia. He especially loved hiking the Appalachian Trail, the Peaks of Otter, Roanoke Mountain, Explorer Park, Carvin’s Cove, Natural Bridge, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. He was a cyclist, biking everywhere for many years. He did math and physics problems for fun, and at the end of his life, they were his comfort zone.
The Unitarian Universalist Church has been a big comfort in his life. He’s been a member of Unitarian Churches off and on since the 1970’s, in Roanoke, Lynchburg, and New Orleans. His ex-wife was musical director of New Orleans U.U., Tulsa (OK) U.U., the Thoreau Woods U.U. in Huntsville (TX), and St. Louis (MO); she was also a landscaper at these churches.
A Celebration of his Life will be held on Saturday, April 22nd, 2023 at 10 am at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 2015 Grandin Rd SW, Roanoke, VA 24015. We will be planting a Crepe Myrtle tree at the Church in his honor. Please consider planting a tree in his honor.
Special thanks to his doctors and staff at Carilion Hospital, the Staff of Medi-Home Health, the Simpson Funeral Home, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Roanoke, VA; and his good friend Daramea Godfrey, who was an invaluable caregiver and hosted him in her home for hospice. Thank You.
Celebration of Life Service
In Loving Memory
1944 - 2023
5160 Peters Creek Road
Roanoke, VA 24019
3912 Electric Road
Roanoke, VA 24018
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