Obituary of Kathleen Ryan Buck
Kathleen (“Kathy”) Ryan Buck
1939 - 2023
Kathleen Ryan Buck of Parker, Colorado passed away peacefully with her family at her side on August 25, 2023.
Loving wife to Irving (“Irv”) Buck, who preceded her in death, August 2020. Proud mother of Courtney Buck (Brian Vickers) and Chris Buck. Equally proud grandmother of Finnegan, Svea, Isabella and Elias. Survived also by her wonderful siblings, brother Tom (Caky Ryan-King) and sister Mary (Lee Biekkola).
Kathy entered this life on August 29th, 1939, born to Dorothy (Brule) and William Ryan in Laurium, Michigan – on the Keweenaw Peninsula. If you do not know where the Keweenaw Peninsula is, please accept our heartfelt condolences (hint: it is the splendid finger of land tickling the belly of Lake Superior).
Due to Kathy’s auspicious place of birth, there was a greater than 50% chance that she would grow up in towns with Native American names. She lived her early years primarily in Menominee and Ishpeming where skiing and ice-skating were a natural part of the curriculum.
Childhood summers were spent with maternal French-speaking grandparents in the splendid isolation of the village of Freda, picking wild berries and baking pies on the shore of Lake Superior, alongside the Copper Country’s Champion Mill. Through the rest of the year, the drudgery of harsh quasi-Canadian weather was obliterated by the dreamy glow of the cinema big screen, as Kathy regularly accompanied her father, the dapper Orpheum Theater manager, to work to see the latest Hollywood releases. This “special access” engendered a love of movies, theater, and the arts that was to become a hallmark of Kathy’s entire life.
Kathy graduated from Ishpeming High School (a shout-out to “Old Ish”!) in 1957, and the family moved to Houghton. After an ill-fated year studying engineering at Michigan Tech University (seriously?), Kathy escaped to the greener pastures of Marquette, where she attended Northern Michigan University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education. More than that, during her Marquette years, Kathy also encountered a dashing young fighter pilot – Irv Buck – who was deviously stationed at a nearby Air Force base. They met on a blind date, were married on her 21st birthday, and the rest was 60 years of marvelous history.
Early in their marriage, while Irv was on a yearlong, unaccompanied Air Force assignment, Kathy attended graduate school at the University of Arizona, accompanied by her and Irv’s first “wonder dog”, Angelique. After completing a master’s degree in Art Education, Kathy often taught on Air Force bases and in nearby communities as she accompanied Irv on assignments in Virginia, Washington D.C., Florida, Kansas, California, Colorado, and Oklahoma. She also applied her artist’s eye to interior design work during stints in California, Colorado, and Oklahoma, before crowning her career with an 11-year run as the Art teacher in the then newly constructed Running Creek Elementary School in Elizabeth, Colorado and retiring in the late 1990’s.
Along the way, Kathy birthed and raised two loving ankle-biters, Courtney and Chris. In her role as “Mom”, Kathy served intrepidly as family anchor and loadstar, seamlessly holding things together under often very stressful conditions during Irv’s Air Force deployments in war and peace. It is not an understatement to say that she, along with her fellow Air Force wives, exhibited the three simple values of the Air Force: “Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.” She kept all quiet on the home front. It was also in these early days, that she honed her preternatural entertaining skills. Anyone who has been to a party at Kathy’s house knows you don’t leave wanting for food, drink, or interesting conversation!
Kathy and Irv settled in The Pinery (Parker, CO) in 1983 - though “settled” is perhaps misleading, as they spent the next four decades roaming the globe in pursuit of adventure, wonder, and service. Indeed, it would be very difficult to catalogue the destinations reached – so we will not even try…. However, a special corner of France certainly deserves mention, as it was to become Kathy’s lavender-covered paradise on earth every summer over the past twenty years. The experiences and education afforded by travel were also a gift that Kathy and Irv generously and actively imparted to their children and grandchildren.
Following her retirement, Kathy committed much of her time and energy to community service, both locally and internationally. Closer to home, she served for years as a volunteer docent at the spectacular and uniquely “quirky” Cherokee Ranch Castle on a prominent butte near Sedalia, Colorado. Overseas, she served as a counselor at summer camps run by the Global Children’s Organization in the Balkans and in Ireland, lovingly conducting art workshops in support of multifaceted efforts to heal the deep psychological wounds of children traumatized by war and conflict.
Our amazing mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend lived a wonderful, complete, joyful, and splendidly tangible life. Up to the very end, she continued to teach us, by example, how to live. Her family and friends were the central part of her life, and although this past year necessitated a deep and often solo journey inward, they were always in her heart and never far from her thoughts.
Words sometimes fall short. In this case, the words come easily: Mom, you chased every rainbow, knowing that the journey is the destination. You left on your own terms, with tenacity, grace, and gentleness. We feel your presence more powerfully than ever now.
Mom’s final resting place will be Arlington National Cemetery, alongside her life-long love, Irv, and near very dear Air Force friends-cum-family.
A Celebration of Life will be held from 7:00-9:00 pm, Tuesday, September 5, 2023 at PACE.
In lieu of flowers, please, consider making a donation to one of the following organizations in Mom’s honor:
- Douglas County Land Conservation: https://www.coloradogives.org/organization/dlconservancy
- Doctors Without Borders: https://donate.doctorswithoutborders.org
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