From Lacrosse to Pool
Dennis Buckley of Chatham, N.J., was a big man, 6 feet, 210 pounds, with an athletic build. He had been a star lacrosse player at Lynbrook High School and graduated from the University of Maryland, which he attended on a full lacrosse scholarship. "He still walks like he's carrying a lacrosse stick," said his wife, Cathleen, speaking of him in the present tense, although she had just come from making funeral arrangements.
He was 38, a bond broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, the father of three girls ranging in age from 22 months to 6 years. A memory his wife holds dear is the massive Mr. Buckley taking his three girls, with their three pink Barbie doll towels, to the swim club. His eldest daughter, Mary Kate, had her sixth birthday 12 days after the attack, and Mrs. Buckley decided to go on with the party. "She's 6," Mrs. Buckley said. "Not having it would be like almost taking it away from her."
She speaks of what has become a community of loss, the World Trade Center people who did not come home, and begins to weep. "As short as it was, I was really lucky to know him. Part of me looks at these younger widows. I at least have my family."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 29, 2001.
Dennis Buckley, 38, Barbie's brawny pal
Dennis Buckley was a macho man. The brawny broker loved lacrosse, tennis and golf and he lived for the Jets. But when he was out with his three young daughters, he could be seen lugging around their pink beach bags, with a Barbie doll sticking out of his jeans' pocket.
"It's funny because he was this pretty big guy with his baseball cap on backwards and he would be mowing the lawn with grass stuck on him. But whenever his girls were around, there would always be a Barbie doll sticking out of his pocket," said his wife, Kathleen.
"He was a good father and he loved to laugh. Everyone will miss him," she said.
Mr. Buckley, a bond broker with Cantor Fitzgerald, worked on the 104th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. On the morning of Sept. 11, his wife said he called out, "Bye, talk to you later," as he left for work. That was the last time she heard her husband's voice. Hours later, two hijacked jetliners crashed into the Twin Towers.
"The night before, we were laughing about something silly one of the kids had done and the next morning, I called out to him, 'Bye, have a great day,'" said Kathleen. "I've heard all these stories about people calling their wives after the plane hit, but I'm grateful that it ended on a good note . . . I'll always have his last words in my head."
Born on Long Island, Mr. Buckley, 38, attended Lynbrook ( N.Y.) High School and graduated from the University of Maryland in 1986. Two years later, he met his wife at The Big Cahuna, a former club in Lower Manhattan. At the end of the night, Mr. Buckley and his lifelong best friends, Frank Busso and Peter Rainis, dropped Kathleen and a few friends off at their homes in Queens, but they never exchanged phone numbers.
"His friend Pete had a crush on one of my friends so the next night he came back and left a note for her on her car. When we all went out, Dennis and I hit it off and started dating and the other two never saw each other again," she said.
The couple married in October 1992, and moved to Chatham two years later.
"I just feel extremely fortunate that I met him, and although I wish we would have had a longer time together, I feel blessed, and even knowing what I know now, I'd do it over again," his wife said.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Buckley is survived by three daughters, Mary Kate, 6, Megan, 4, and Michele, 20 months; his parents, John and Kathleen Buckley, and a sister, Jane Smithwick, all of Lynbrook, N.Y.
The family asks that donations be made to "The Fund for the Children of Dennis Buckley," c/o Kathleen Buckley, P.O. Box 736, Chatham, NJ 07928.
Profile by Giovanna Fabiano published in THE STAR-LEDGER.