It is with a very heavy heart that I write this report.
Indeed it is a sad time in the lives of thousands of people who knew and loved Bill Buckner. Bill passed away on May 23 from complications associated with leukemia.
Bill had one of the best Christian testimonies that I have ever witnessed.
Notice I said witnessed, not heard. He lived his life for Christ every day.
You have heard it said of someone that he or she not only “talked the talk but walked the walk.” Bill Buckner was the epitome of that statement. He definitely walked the walk. He literally touched thousands of lives, and everyone was the better for having known him.
I was eating lunch with Bill several months ago, talking about everything: football, hunting, timber management, EMCC, family, etc. And finally we talked about his health.
I will never forget what he told me. Bill said, “Nick, I have the best of both worlds. It is a win-win situation for me. If I die, I go to be with the Lord. If I live, I get to keep on doing His work.”
Wow! What a powerful statement.
Bill and I played football together at Scooba. I used to laugh in telling Bill that I made him an All American. My blocking and protection gave him the time to run Coach Sullivan’s pass oriented West Coast-style offense. Bill would respond with, “Where were you in the Jones game?” (his jaw was broken). The truth of the matter is, Bill made us all a lot better than we were. He was a great football player and the most unselfish guy I have ever known.
I could write a book on the things that Bill has done for EMJC/EMCC and for me personally. He was a great encourager and a leader who led from the front.
He served as chairman of the Sullivan Committee. And when he offered a suggestion for the Sullivan group, he led the charge, made the phone calls and made the contacts to help assure the success of the project.
He never let us get out of line either. He would admonish the group occasionally with that soft-spoken voice and a smile on his face. He was one of those guys you just wanted to please.
Bill used his ability as an athlete to glorify Christ. He started the first FCA huddle group at EMJC in 1965. Bill had gone to Mississippi State and came back to start FCA at EMJC. As an athlete, he was very active in FCA at Mississippi State and Delta State and, I am sure, with the Atlanta Falcons as well.
He was also very active in FCA during his 18 years of coaching. After coaching, he was called to the ministry of FCA as State Director, later becoming Regional Director for Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle.
However, when he started as the State Director in Mississippi, he was it! Now, FCA has grown to a staff of 30 with six volunteers in Mississippi. I think that speaks volumes about Bill’s inner strength, confidence, determination and commitment to God’s work.
You can be assured, my friends, that Bill Buckner will be missed. I leave you with this thought, “We don’t cry because it’s over, we smile because it was.”
Stay in touch,