Charles Buckley, Jr. - Viera, FL - Charles L. Buckley, Jr. (Charlie) died Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at the age of 86. He was born in Lowell, MA on March 29, 1923 to Charles Buckley, Sr. and Grace Newell Buckley. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Grete, and their three daughters and their husbands, Colleen and Kevin Callahan (Vienna, VA), Maureen and James O'Hora (New Canaan, CT), and Karen and John Firriolo (Melbourne, FL); and seven grandchildren, Sean, Matthew and Erin Callahan, Meghan and Seamus O'Hora, and Christina and Jennifer Firriolo. Charlie was predeceased by his sister, Elizabeth "Betty" Buckley Federman. Charlie joined the Naval Reserve in New Bedford, MA and was called to active duty right out of high school. He spent all of World War II in the South Pacific. Following his honorable discharge, he be came a Massachusetts State Trooper stationed on Cape Cod. In 1947 Charlie joined the Atomic Energy Commission Security Force at Los Alamos, NM. He later transferred to the AEC San Francisco Operations Office, where he had security responsibility for shipments of nuclear material to the South Pacific. He witnessed several nuclear tests at Eniwetok & Bikini Atolls. In 1960, Charlies adventuresome nature and patriotic spirit motivated him to accept a job as the first Chief of Security at Kennedy Space Center. He was responsible not only for the security of the entire facility, but that of all the astronauts and mission support staff. Charlie took great pride in personally escorting the astronauts to the pad on launch days. He became a trusted friend and confident to all the astronauts from Alan Shepherd to the first Shuttle crew. He was the recipient of two NASA Exceptional Service Medals, and one of the highlights of his career was accompanying the Apollo XVII astronauts on a round-the-world goodwill tour to commemorate their successful mission. He retired in 1981 with 41 years of Federal Government service, and following his retirement, Charlie became a consultant for Westinghouse. Concurrently, while serving as Chief of Security at KSC; Charlie was elected to the Satellite Beach Town Council, where he served for two terms. Charlies association with the astronauts led to a shared passion for sports car racing. Charlie won the Sports Car Club of America Florida State Championship (Class D) and raced at the Daytona Speedway, and the 12 Hours of Sebring. His photo appeared in Sports Illustrated showing him pulling a driver from his flaming race car; for which he received the SCCA "Good Sportsmanship Award." He was a familiar sight in the community in his 1966 blue corvette and his red MGB (complete with roll bar!) He had a private pilots license and was a member of the Patrick AeroClub. Charlie lived his life with enthusiasm and optimism. He was a devoted husband and father, and a friend to all who knew him. Among Charlies organizations and affiliations are the following: American Society for Industrial Security (life member and former board member); Space Pioneers (life member); Navy League (board member); NASA Alumni League; Brevard County Chiefs of Police (charter member); Space Coast Corvette Club. He was active in the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and enjoyed hosting scholarship recipients on their annual tour of KSC. In addition, Charlie worked with "Give Kids the World" to provide terminally ill children and their families special tours of the KSC visitors complex. A memorial service will be held on Friday, August 28, 2009 at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Community, 5655 Stadium Pkwy, Viera. Visitation from 5 - 6 p.m. and funeral service at 6 p.m. Inurnment will be at Arlington National Cemetery, VA. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, 6224 Vectorspace Blvd, Titusville, FL 32780, Brevard Alzheimers Foundation, Inc., 4676 N. Wickham Rd, Melbourne, FL 32935, Wuestoff Hospice c/o Wuestoff Health System Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 565002 Rockledge, FL 32956-9928. Online condolences at www.beckman-williamson.com
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Published in FLORIDA TODAY from Aug. 27 to Aug. 28, 2009