Wheel of Life: Beryl Bucklin

Beryl Bucklin
9/20/1919 – 12/17/23

Our beloved VIUU member Beryl Bucklin died on the afternoon of December 17, 2023. She died peacefully in her sleep, which is what she always wanted. Beryl was a pillar of our community for decades. Several years ago, “Beryls Pearls” of wisdom were shared at the beginning of many services in honor of her 100th birthday.

There is no memorial service planned, as she wished her 100th birthday bash to be her “ring away party.” Beryl donated her body to the University of Washington Medical Center. Ecumenical services are held there twice a year, and Information about attending the next service will be made available.

Beryl’s daughter Kathleen Davies will join us at VIUU on Jan. 14th to share some stories of her mother’s life.

Below is her full obituary, shared by Kathleen.

Beryl Cunningham Bucklin was born in Waterville, Washington in 1919 where her parents and grandparents were wheat ranchers.  They soon moved to Tacoma, where her father set up his law practice, which became Binns & Cunningham.

Beryl attended public schools in Tacoma, graduating from Stadium HS.  She matriculated at the University of Washington, graduating cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1941.  Her memberships included Sigma Kappa, Mu Phi Epsilon music honorary and Phi Sigma Iota Romance Language honorary.

In August of that year she married Brice Bucklin of Bainbridge Island, WA, an ROTC Second Lieutenant on active duty in San Francisco when Pearl Harbor was bombed.  She worked as a draftsman at Boeing during the three years Brice served in the Army during WWII.  They had four children: Kathleen Davies, Alison Bucklin, Nate (Lisa) Bucklin, and Jeremy Bucklin.  The family lived in Brazil and Argentina for four years, returning in 1960 when they moved into a Cunningham summer house in Manzanita on Vashon Island.  They divorced, and Beryl returned to college, earning a Master’s degree from Pacific Lutheran University.  She taught French, Spanish and English in Tacoma, retiring in 1983.

Her lifelong interest in the piano continued with hours of practice, concerts for the Vashon Unitarian Fellowship, and private performances at Kathleen’s home in NY, including all of the Beethoven sonatas.  She began hiking, and enjoyed many miles with friends from Vashon and elsewhere, providing a support crew for Esther Norton and Kathleen on their 93 mile hike of the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier.  She herself completed the 40 mile Timberline Trail around Mount Hood.  She learned to ride horses, a long-time goal.  She travelled extensively in retirement, to Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore, Alaska, South America, Africa, Turkey, the Azores plus several trips to the Caribbean.  She was an avid quilter, turning out hundreds of quilts for friends near and far, and for many charitable organizations on Vashon.  She attended quilt retreats in NY nearly every year as long as she was able to travel.

She sold the Manzanita home and moved to an apartment in Vashon proper in her early eighties, living there until she fell and broke her hip in November 2021.  She moved into assisted living in Tacoma, first to Franke Tobey Jones, which she remembers watching being built when she was a child, then to Cogir at the Narrows where she died peacefully in her sleep on December 17, 2023.  She is survived by her four children, one grandson Brian Davies, and one great granddaughter, Gwen Davies.

Her body was donated to the University of Washington Medical center as she wished, continuing her long commitment of generosity and caring for others.  There will be no service at this time.  Memorial gifts may be made to Vashon Island Unitarian Universalists (VIUU) at POB 1127, Vashon, WA. 98070