John Frederic Buck, born September 6, 1928, to Fred Albert Finger and Linda Buck in Stuart Manor, Long Island, New York, passed away June 9, 2011 in Galveston, Texas.
John moved to Brooklyn at the age of nine months when he was adopted by his maternal grandmother after the death of his mother.
John began his education in the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. His path to a degree was interrupted by four years of service in the U.S. Air Force Chaplain Section. He returned to complete his B.S. in Business Administration and then worked for Woodward and Lothrop Inc. in Washington, D.C., where he programmed the Univac Mark I, the first commercial computer.
Later he returned to Virginia Tech to become one of the founding members and educators in the University’s Computer Science Department. During his tenure, he served on President Johnson's Commission on the Use of Computers in Education.
John left Virginia Tech in 1969 to teach at Indiana University (IU) and during his years at IU he served as the conference chair of the Association of Computing Machinery. He also assisted informally with the varsity wrestling program and served as advisor and coach for the IU Wrestling Club. It was during this period that the nickname “Coach” became part of his persona, a testament to his skill and passion as an educator and mentor to many.
While a faculty member in the Computer Science Department, working toward his doctorate, John was given the opportunity to pledge the Indiana Beta Chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. He served the chapter for more than 20 years in various roles including Faculty Advisor and Chapter Advisor. He also served as the Fraternity’s National Director of Scholarship and as a member of the Commission on Ethics. He was elected a Trustee of the Phi Kappa Psi Foundation in 1990 serving as the organization’s Secretary/Treasurer until his passing.
After retiring from IU, John moved to Nacogdoches, Texas, and joined the Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) staff as an instructor. He served as the University’s wrestling coach and was instrumental in establishing a chapter of Phi Kappa Psi on campus. In addition to teaching, he was an active and involved member of the community. He dedicated himself to Christ Episcopal Church serving on the vestry for three years and also assisting in the establishment of a tax exempt foundation to fund the congregation’s educational activities.
John moved to Galveston in 2006 and resided at the Meridian Retirement Community, formerly known as Edgewater. He quickly became a valued member of the community, sharing his many talents and gifts with other residents. As an accomplished cook, and using his grandmother’s recipes, he often entertained friends in his home preparing extraordinary meals. John was a wonderful organist and was often giving private concerts to friends in addition to playing weekly for the community’s Sunday evening worship services. With a passion for music, John frequently attended Galveston Symphony performances with his Meridian friends. His innate leadership skills were evident by his continuous re-election as President of the Meridian Resident Association. During his service he assisted in creating the Resident Resource Center, a community store serving residents between larger shopping trips, and was also often found lending a hand to residents with computer and internet difficulties.
John was also a leader within his Galveston home congregation, Grace Episcopal Church. At the time of his death, John was serving as Treasurer of the congregation’s endowment, was a staple in the church choir and a frequent substitute organist.
As a career professor and lifelong learner, John was a great influence on everyone he met. His inquisitive nature and constant quest for good conversation motivated him to be up-to-date on the latest technology, which helped him, even in his 83rd year, to remain connected with friends and former students.
A memorial service and celebration of John's life is planned for Monday, June 27, 2011 at 6:30 PM at Grace Episcopal Church (1115 36th Street, Galveston, TX 77550).
Per John's request, donations should be made to the Phi Kappa Psi Foundation (5395 Emerson Way, Indianapolis, IN 46226), Grace Episcopal Church (1115 36th Street, Galveston, TX 77550) or Christ Episcopal Church Nacogdoches Foundation (CECN Foundation c/o Edward Jones, PO Box 632765, Nacogdoches, TX 75963).