Sam R. Buck was born in Friday Harbor, Washington on April 6, 1927. He transitioned from his beautiful west side view home on San Juan Island to Heaven on Nov. 6, 2016. He was surrounded by his beautiful wife, Barbara, his four children: Sam Buck III (Jane Buck); Lori Stewart; Steve Buck and Lynn Buck Wade (Mark Wade) as well as six grandchildren, five great grandchildren and other extended family who all loved him very much.
Sam is literally a legend in the San Juan Islands. He was one of a kind. He loved all people. He welcomed all people. He loved to sing, and tell stories and to entertain. He and Barbara established San Juan Properties, Inc., a real estate sales and development company, in 1960 which he ran until he retired. (An undetermined date.) No one has provided more property for people to build homes on or has been involved in more real estate transactions in the San Juan Islands than Sam Buck, and likely no one ever will. His efforts transformed what the county once considered relatively worthless land into valuable properties, contributing substantially to the health and well-being of the community. If he hadn’t done it when he did there wouldn’t be places to live for a lot of people who are a big part of our community.
Sam has been involved in numerous environmental preservation efforts in the islands. He was the first to incorporate self-imposed environmental restrictions with the development of Brown Island. He got the University of Washington to buy False Bay, preventing it from being dredged for a marina. Sam bought Goose Island and then sold it to the Nature Conservancy to prevent construction of a proposed bridge connecting the south end of San Juan Island to Lopez Island. He got most of the large land owners in San Juan Valley to agree to restricting their land to one house per 40 acres so the valley could remain open farmland with beautiful vistas. He was also instrumental in the creation of the San Juan Island Golf Course and the original development of Roche Harbor, as well as its eventual transfer to the new owners.
Sam participated in many local organizations. He is the charter president of the Lions Club, where he is a Melvin Jones Fellow. He belonged to the American Legion (His dad, Sam R. Buck I, was the charter president) and is a past master of the San Juan Island Masonic Lodge. Further, he was a member of the Royal Order of Jesters. Sam was also a charter member of the San Juan Island Yacht Club and the San Juan Island Golf and Tennis Club, (member #6, after the John Jackson family). Sam was a recent Grand Marshal of the Friday Harbor Independence Day Parade, (one of the top 10 small town parades in the nation). In 2015 he received the Local Hero’s Award at the Friday Harbor Film Festival and prior to that the San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce awarded him with the first annual Sam R. Buck Community Service Award.
Sam and Barbara are supporters of the arts. Sam has loved music and singing since childhood. He sang at so many weddings and funerals that he was known as “Marry ‘em and Bury ‘em Sam.” After supporting the construction of the San Juan Community Theatre, he played Daddy Warbucks in the opening production of Annie. (He was a perfect Daddy Warbucks!) Following that, by popular demand and the urging of his children, he put on a concert at the community theater to benefit the Kinder Music Fund, he and Barbara established in order to help bring music instruction and instruments to K-6 grade children in Friday Harbor.
Sam and Barbara continue to support their extended community — Friday Harbor, San Juan Island and the San Juan Islands, the place he has loved most throughout his life. He has written three books: The Bucks Stopped Here (The Buck Family Heritage In The San Juan Islands); Every Day Is an Adventure (Growing Up On San Juan Island) and A Letter To The People Of Our Amazing and Wonderful San Juan Islands. They are available at Griffin Bay Bookstore in Friday Harbor. The three books are currently in the process of being combined into one.
Sam loved to engage people, even those he’d never met. He disarmed people with his smile and the twinkle in his eyes that immediately conveyed he was a joyful, loving soul worthy of their trust. Sam deeply loved his wife and family. He and Barbara kissed and hugged every day until his last breath. His friends were a very close second. Sam and Barbara had so many close friends and so much fun throughout their lives. Third was his love for San Juan Island and San Juan County. We are so very grateful to God for the gift we received in Sam Buck II.
Sam loved having coffee every weekday morning with his friends at the Rocky Bay Cafe. He and Barbara loved having dinner at Haley’s and Vinny’s (where he often sang “Good Night Ladies” as he was about to leave) and Roche Harbor, (where he would sometimes sing both the United States and Canadian National Anthems at the ceremony of Ccolors.) He loved to talk with children wherever he went. In recent years when someone would ask Sam how he’s doing, he would often say with a big smile “Still on the right side of the sod!” He still is, just a little higher up. He is a solid Christian and is now with God, other family and friends.
An extra side note: Sam, Barbara and Art Taylor owned the Friday Harbor Journal for a period of time with Tommy Thomas as editor. Sam also ran for the state legislature. His father had been our state legislature many years ago.
Sam’s send off, memorial and celebration will start at the Friday Harbor Presbyterian Church at 11:30 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 19, then at the San Juan Island Yacht Club immediately afterward.
Arrangements are in the care of Evans Funeral Chapel and Crematory Inc. of Anacortes, Washington and the San Juan Islands. To share a memory of Sam please visit www.evanschapel.com and sign the online guest register. (We like that they provide this service.)
If you would like to make a contribution in Sam R. Buck’s name, might we suggest: The Kinder Music Fund, Care of The San Juan Community Theater, P.O. Box 1063, Friday Harbor, WA 98250.