Howard R. Buckley

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Howard R. Buckley

Portland-Howard R. Buckley, former CEO of Mercy Hospital, died at home on November 6, 2020. He was 83. Howard is survived by his loving wife, B. Lee Zacharias of Portland, Maine and his daughters Kellie Buckley and her husband David Girioni of North Kingstown, Rhode Island, and Maureen Buckley and her husband Jonathan Kuell of South Portland, Maine. He is also survived by his sister Monica Spaulding of Buffalo, New York, A. Marie Buckley, friend and mother of Kellie and Maureen, and four grandchildren, Nicholas and Zachary Girioni (who called him Grandpa Bus), and Anna and Brendan Kuell (who called him Papa). A native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Howard was a graduate of Regis High School. After serving in the U.S. Army in France as an OR Technician, he earned a degree in chemistry from Wisconsin State University and a Master’s in Business Administration from George Washington University in Washington, DC. He also received an Honorary Degree of Laws from St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine. Howard was the longest serving lay administrator of Mercy Hospital, serving as president and CEO from 1975 to 2002. During his tenure, he led Mercy through a building and modernization initiative and oversaw the purchase of land where the Fore River campus is now located. Howard served as the Honorary Chairman of the One Mercy Capital Campaign Committee, a key component in consolidating Mercy’s hospital-based services on one campus. Howard loved and was beloved by Mercy employees. He walked the floors of the hospital on a daily basis, greeting employees by name, a routine that became a trademark. While many employees recall his compassion and accessibility, they also recount “Howard stories,” many of which involved a wicked sense of humor and a well-executed practical joke. Howard was a member of the board of the Maine Hospital Association and served as board president of the New England Conference of the Catholic Health Association. Before retiring, Howard became an advocate for a universal health care system, and was included in a Bill Moyers PBS special on the health care crisis in the United States. His views on the need for a single-payer system were controversial among many of his colleagues in the health care field, but he was never afraid to have an unpopular opinion. He fervently believed that health care was a right, not a privilege. As much as he loved his years at Mercy, it was after his retirement that he was able to pursue his true passion—driving buses. A dependable employee for VIP Tour & Charter Bus Company, he had the time of his life driving tourists around southern Maine, taking school kids on field trips, driving high school and college athletes to sporting events, and taking groups to Foxwoods Casino. Hanging up his driver’s cap was one of the most difficult decisions he ever made. Howard was a man with many eclectic interests. He had a lifelong passion for buses and his daughters have childhood memories of Saturday afternoons spent looking at broken down buses for sale. After taking baby steps by owning a few RVs, he finally achieved his dream of owning his own bus. He also had a Honda Goldwing motorcycle that he had converted into a trike that he loved dearly. He used to say, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” (His family knows he was the winner.) Howard also loved watching sports—any sport, no matter who was playing. He never missed any of his daughters’ sporting events but could also be found at those in which friends’ or Mercy employees’ children were playing. Along with his sister, Monica, Howard and his wife, Lee, spent many years performing drug testing at major sporting events around the country. He fondly remembered his weeks in Atlanta for the 1996 Olympic Games, the Boston Marathon, and many others. Later in life, he also rekindled his love of speed skating, something he had done as a kid. Howard was an established member of the Sons of the Tundra, a group of health care professionals and friends from throughout Maine, who traveled together to many places from Quebec City to Ireland. Wherever the Sons went, his birthday was celebrated regardless of the time of year, causing members to muse that Howard was the oldest man they ever knew. In 2001, Howard had the immense fortune to marry B. Lee Zacharias. With patience, Lee accompanied Howard on his many adventures. Together they took trips on his motorcycle, traveled the country looking at old buses, watched high school sports, drug tested at major sporting events, and enjoyed each other’s company. Lee was Howard’s rock. She was a tireless advocate for him over the years as his health failed. She was the best partner anyone could ask for. For those who knew Howard, you will know how much his family will miss the twinkle in his eye, his sarcastic sense of humor, his generosity, and his love of a good practical joke. After visits, his daughters would say, “Stay out of trouble,” to which he would always grin and respond, “It’s funny that everyone always feels the need to say that to me.” The family would like to extend its most sincere gratitude to each and every care partner at the Mooring on Foreside. We are eternally grateful for the exceptional care and friendship that you provided Howard in the final years of his life. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, there will be no services. When it is safe, the family hopes to rent a bus and do a farewell tour in Howard’s memory. For those wishing to do something in his memory, the family suggests that donations be made in Howard’s name to the Angels Among Us Fund, in support of Mercy employees in need: Angels Among Us Fund, c/o Mercy Hospital Foundation, P.O. Box 679, Portland, Maine 04104-0679. Arrangements are under the direction of the Conroy-Tully Walker Funeral Home, 172 State Street, Portland, ME. To view Howard’s memorial page, or to share an online condolence, please visit www.ConroyTullyWalker.com
April 24, 1937 - November 6, 202004/24/193711/06/2020
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Howard R. Buckley
Howard R. Buckley
22 Trees have been planted in memory of Howard Buckley.

Memorial Trees

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Dermot Killian

November 18, 2020

The planting of 3 memorial trees in the honor of Howard R. Buckley has been arranged by Dermot Killian. Planted in Kirtland Habitat Restoration MI. Plant a tree
A great man pursuing a noble cause. I will miss you Howard.
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Steve Putnam

November 12, 2020

The planting of 10 memorial trees in the honor of Howard R. Buckley has been arranged by Steve Putnam. Planted in Kirtland Habitat Restoration MI. Plant a tree
My brother and I always enjoyed Howard's wisdom and generosity in non profit efforts. Hopefully he and David have gotten together in Heaven
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Eileen and John Skinner

November 12, 2020

The planting of 3 memorial trees in the honor of Howard R. Buckley has been arranged by Eileen and John Skinner. Planted in Kirtland Habitat Restoration MI. Plant a tree
"Howard Buckley" will remain in our hearts forever.
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Tribute Store

November 22, 2020

The planting of 1 memorial tree in the honor of Howard R. Buckley has been arranged by Tribute Store. Planted in Kirtland Habitat Restoration MI. Plant a tree
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Amy and Phil Morse

November 19, 2020

The planting of 1 memorial tree in the honor of Howard R. Buckley has been arranged by Amy and Phil Morse. Planted in Kirtland Habitat Restoration MI. Plant a tree
Our warmest condolences and our thoughts are with you. We are will always remember Howard with a smile.
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Joanne Brown

November 14, 2020

The planting of 1 memorial tree in the honor of Howard R. Buckley has been arranged by Joanne Brown. Planted in Kirtland Habitat Restoration MI. Plant a tree
With thoughts of peace and courage for you,
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Jud Knox

November 12, 2020

The planting of 1 memorial tree in the honor of Howard R. Buckley has been arranged by Jud Knox. Planted in Kirtland Habitat Restoration MI. Plant a tree
Howard was a very special person. Wonderfully unique among hospital administrators. I am grateful for his influence on us.
K

Kelley Souza

November 12, 2020

The planting of 1 memorial tree in the honor of Howard R. Buckley has been arranged by Kelley Souza. Planted in Kirtland Habitat Restoration MI. Plant a tree
Howard was truly the best. I will be forever grateful for having known him. My deepest sympathies to his family.
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Love, Stacy and Bill Gruen and Family

November 11, 2020

The planting of 1 memorial tree in the honor of Howard R. Buckley has been arranged by Love, Stacy and Bill Gruen and Family. Planted in Kirtland Habitat Restoration MI. Plant a tree
Our warmest condolences,

Trees planted in Kirtland Habitat Restoration, MI