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University Libraries

Remembering Dave Buckley: Humor, Generosity and Service

By Maureen Schlangen

Longtime employees of the University of Dayton Libraries are mourning the May 1 passing of library professor emeritus David Mitchell “Mitch” Buckley.

Buckley, who joined the library in 1968 after earning his master’s in librarianship from Western Michigan University, retired with 42 years of service in June 2010, running the periodicals department for 26 years and serving on the reference team starting in 1986.

“I never heard him say a mean word about anyone,” said Dean Kathleen Webb, recalling a quirky nature that was as practical as it was entertaining.

“He was always willing to fix anything that broke in the libraries, often with duct tape,” Webb said. “He was the original MacGyver.”

Humorous historian

A history aficionado, he had what friends describe as an encyclopedic mind. After the University was named the recipient of Erma Bombeck’s papers, Buckley developed the Bombeck Bibliography, the first comprehensive bibliography of Erma Bombeck’s work.

A native of Miamisburg and a lifelong resident of the Miami Valley, Buckley knew the area well.

“When I first arrived in the area, he would often share stories of local venues worth exploring — from the menu at Treasure Island Supper Club to tiny burgers from the Hamburger Wagon,” said Hector Escobar, associate professor and director of education and information delivery. “At one reference meeting, we discussed creating an in-house wikipedia. Dave said he had the perfect name for it: ‘Wikiricardo,’ as in ‘Ricky Ricardo.’”*

Collector of conversation pieces

Heidi Gauder, professor and coordinator of research and instruction, who joined the University in 1998, said Buckley’s office was filled with conversation pieces, and when he acquired a new one, he would often take it with him to the 10:15 a.m. coffee break in the Barrett Dining Room.

“One of the last things I remember in Dave’s office was a bust of Shakespeare,” Gauder said. “At least I think it was Shakespeare.”

Fred Jenkins, professor and associate dean for collections and operations, who worked with Buckley for 23 years starting in 1987, remembers the bust, too.

“It was probably Mussolini,” Jenkins said, “though he might have had a Shakespeare, too. A grad school classmate of mine — a New Yorker with a warped sense of humor — brought me the bust as a gag gift one year, and I passed it along to Dave.”

It was actually among the less unusual possessions in Buckley’s collection.

“He had a World War I horse gas mask in his office, a large collection of toy soldiers, and odd old tools — he was a big fan of army surplus stores,” Jenkins said. “He read extensively on World War II, which was one of his big interests, and he always wanted to start a museum of obsolete library technology.”

He also was a car enthusiast and often owned several old cars at a time, Jenkins said.

“One year he got a deal on an old Studebaker, which turned out to be a money pit and needed one repair after another until he got rid of it,” he said.

Servant in the community, spreader of goodwill

Buckley was active in the Dayton Ski Club, the Oakwood Rotary Club, the Miamisburg Lions Club and the UD chapter of AAUP (American Association of University Professors).

Every year, as the date rolled around for the Oakwood Rotary Club’s That Day in May fundraiser and community festival, Buckley would buy up his entire allotment of tickets to the pancake breakfast and give them to people in the library, Gauder said.

“He went by Dave in the library,” she said, “though friends would come looking for Mitch, which confused me at first.”

Jenkins explained: “Dave really had two separate lives — Dave at the library and UD, Mitch in Oakwood and social and service clubs. His answering machine used to say, ‘This is Dave or Mitch Buckley, depending on who you want.’”

Kindness, welcome, camaraderie were his hallmarks

More than anything else, though, Buckley left a mark of great kindness on the world, said Jane Dunwoodie, assistant to the dean.

“Dave was one of the first people to make me feel most welcome as a new employee of the UD Libraries,” said Dunwoodie, who remained friends with Buckley after his retirement, attending movies, dining out, discussing films and going to food festivals with groups of friends. “He set a real example of strength in overcoming any obstacle that life may present and turned to helping others in his service through the Oakwood Rotary.”

Dunwoodie said he also was a devoted care provider for his mother until her passing in 2005.

“After his mother passed, Dave continued to join my mom and me in outings whenever possible, lending support in every way he could,” Dunwoodie said. “He was missed when he moved from Dayton and will be missed even more now.”

Buckley is survived by his sister, Virginia Buckley Passero; niece Kathy Passero and her husband, Greg Dutter; and great-niece Darby Dutter.

— Maureen Schlangen is e-scholarship and communications manager in the University of Dayton Libraries.

* In the 1950s television comedy I Love Lucy, Ricky Ricardo, played by the actor Desi Arnaz, was the husband of the title character, played by Lucille Ball.


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