Long time Alaska resident Judge Seaborn J. Buckalew Jr., 96, passed away peacefully in his sleep, on Thursday, May 11, 2017. Service will be held at All Saints Episcopal Church on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, at 10 a.m., and reception immediately following, with burial at Fort Richardson National Cemetery at 1:30 p.m.
Seaborn was born in Dallas, Texas, to Lorine Beutel Buckalew and Seaborn J. Buckalew. After high school, he attended Texas A&M College receiving a Bachelor Arts Degree in 1942. On Dec. 28, 1946, Seaborn married his high school sweetheart, Marcella ""Marcy"" Hudel. Seaborn and Marcy attended John B. Stetson University in DeLand, Fla. He graduated, in 1949, with a Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree and admitted into practice in Florida. On a bulletin board at Stetson was a job offer for an attorney in Anchorage, Alaska. Always up for an adventure, he applied for the job and positions in Texas. Receiving no job offers in Texas, he accepted the position in Anchorage.
In April 1950 they began a journey of a life time to Alaska, driving their 1948 Plymouth and pulling a trailer. After several flat tires, being pulled out of ditch by truckers, they joined the convoy of truckers to Alaska, arriving in May. The following day he started his job with McCutcheon and Nesbett Law Firm. After arriving in Anchorage a letter was waiting at the post office, general delivery, with a job offer in Texas. Seaborn laughed, said they were staying. Seaborn and Marcy never moved out of Alaska; they loved their adventure!
Seaborn and Marcy homesteaded in the Stuckagain Heights area, building a log home and raising two young sons. With no running water or electricity, on his way home from work, Seaborn would stop at a gas station filling up water jugs to take home. After a few years they moved to town for ""modern conveniences.""
Seaborn had a very distinguish legal career. In 1950, he was appointed territorial prosecutor; 1952, named United States Attorney for the Third Judicial District, the youngest U.S. Attorney ever appointed. From 1953 to 1971, he went into private practice, sometimes with a partner. One partner was Wendell Kay (aka ""The Silver Fox"" known for his white hair and mustache). During an interview in 1988, with Sheila Toomey of the Anchorage Times, Seaborn said of Wendell, ""there were times when Kay got the jury's sympathy by looking not like a Silver Fox but, more like a coyote that had been hit by an oil truck."" Warren Tucker also joined Seaborn as a partner. Seaborn was always willing to help a client; if the client didn't have money, a bartering system worked until the client had money. At different times he owned a sawmill, property, vehicles and had his home repainted.
In 1971, Seaborn was appointed Anchorage District Attorney. One notable case was when actor Steve McQueen arrived in town. He decided to race his car down 4th Avenue, resulting in a ticket and a court date. On the appointed date, Seaborn came out of his office and noticed there were no secretaries available, all had gone to the court house to see Steve McQueen. Unfortunately, only his attorney appeared in court.
Seaborn was elected from Anchorage as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. The Convention convened on Nov. 8, 1955, at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. In February 1956, the constitution was signed by all 55 delegates to be submitted to voters April 24, 1956. As a Legislator, in 1955 he was elected to the territorial House of Representatives and in 1959, served one year in the first state Senate.
Seaborn continued to serve his country in the military along with his professional and political lives. After graduating for Texas A&M, he entered the U.S. Army serving during World War II from 1942 to 1946, then transferring into the Army Reserves. In October 1949, he transferred to the Air Force Reserves and recalled back to active duty with the U.S. Air Force in 1951. In 1956, Seaborn transferred to the Alaska Air National Guard and appointed as legal staff officer. He was reappointed as Assistant Adjutant General in 1971, retiring in 1973. An article in the National Guardsman Newsletter stated, ""In December 1966 he was one of fifteen officers nationwide and the first Alaska guardsman, chosen by the United States Air Force to participate in a overseas staff visit to selected Air Force and NATO bases in Europe.""
In 1973, Governor Bill Egan appointed Seaborn to the Superior Court, retiring in 1988. His ability to remember each juror's name and addressed them by name during the course of the trial, was legendary. Larry Weeks clerked for Seaborn in 1973, and, in 1988, wrote, ""Judge Buckalew is the epitome of the True Alaskan. He is low key, doesn't have to tell you everything he knows, big-league competent and unfailingly courteous. His courtroom, even in the most tense civil or criminal case, always remains a place where the lawyers and litigants feel like they get a fair shake.""
Seaborn lived a wonderful life, had many adventures, great sense of humor, a gentle and humble man, and could tell a story like no other. Most of all, he loved his family and was very proud of his sons and grandchildren. His love of the outdoors took him fishing, his cabin at Big Lake, riding his bike or just mowing the lawn. He was also an avid reader of history. Seaborn was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. In later years, he enjoyed being ""chauffeured"" by his granddaughters. He was a member of All Saints Episcopal Church since 1951.
Seaborn is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Seaborn J. Buckalew III and Lois of Anchorage; granddaughters and their husbands, Elizabeth and Brian Kirby of Damascus, Md., and Christine and Nathan Bucknall of Anchorage; great -grandchildren, Maria and James Kirby and Kiera, Keela and Blaine Bucknall; sisters-in-law, Shirley Hudel of Summerville, S.C., and Ches Hudel of Dallas, Texas; and many nieces and nephews.
Seaborn was predeceased by his parents; wife, Marcella; son, Robert J. Buckalew; brother, William Buckalew; and brothers-in-law, Perry A. Hudel and William Hudel.
The family is very grateful for caregivers Gloria, Glenin and Luz for their warmth and compassion taking wonderful care of Seaborn over the years. Also to Providence Hospice nurse Patricia and Dr. Snyder.
Honorary Pallbears: Dr. Michael Cusack, Iris Gonder Palmer, Vic Fischer, Mike Sewright, William Dugdale and Drew Hudel.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
or Salvation Army.
Arrangements entrusted to Legacy Witzleben Chapel. To share words of comfort with the family please visit www.legacyalaska.com.
Published by Anchorage Daily News on May 21, 2017.