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Ralph E. Buckley

ralph buckley

April 23, 1915 ~ July 17, 2010

Ralph E. Buckley
Northern Virginia Educator

Ralph E. Buckley, 95, a teacher, high school principal and administrator for nearly 40 years in the Northern Virginia area, passed away on Saturday, July 17 after a one-month stay in Inova Fairfax Hospital. He died peacefully, with his family at his bedside.

Mr. Buckley was a resident of Annandale, Virginia since 1954. He was born in White Post, Virginia and raised on a farm, the son of Arthur Columbus Buckley and Sarah Elizabeth Shiley. He graduated from Boyce High School in Clark County in 1933, received his Bachelor’s Degree in 1938 from Virginia Tech, and earned a master’s degree in education from George Washington University in 1949 with additional graduate study at the University of Virginia.

“Buck,” as he was known to his friends, commenced his Northern Virginia teaching career in 1938 at Fairfax High school. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1941 and graduated from Officer’s Candidate School, reaching the rank of Captain. He served as an instructor during World War II, both in the U.S. and in the Philippines.

Following his discharge from the U.S. Army in 1946, he returned to Northern Virginia as assistant principal at Mount Vernon High School. In 1954 he was appointed first principal of Annandale High School, which he built from the ground upa�”he conferred with architects, stocked the Library, hired the faculty, and played a significant role in developing the curriculum. Recently, he wrote that his twelve years at Annandale High School were “precious a�” the real capstone of my career.”

In 1966 Buck was promoted to Assistant Superintendent in Fairfax County, and retired from the school system in 1976 as an Area Administrator. He occasionally commented that he did not realize the real rewards of working with students until he left Annandale High.

Following his retirement, Buck worked in the real estate field and as weekend administrator at Northern Virginia Community College. Again, he most enjoyed his interaction with the students.

Mr. Buckley remained active in the Annandale Lions Club and NVADACA, an organization which awards annual scholarships to graduating seniors in Northern Virginia high schools; the Ralph E. Buckley scholarship was endowed in his name. He was active in his church, Little River United Church of Christ, and a frequent volunteer in community activities.

Survivors include Buck’s wife of 68 years, Edith, and his son, Scott.



Little River United Church of Christ
8410 Little River Turnpike
Annandale, VA 22003-3798
August 10, 2010
2:00 PM

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Memories Timeline


  1. Buck was great man and had a tremendous influence on all he came in contact with. He was our principal, yet I think more of him as a friend. In April, 1957 I was involved in a serious auto accident and my injuries prevented me from attending school for the remainder of the school year. The Fairfax School Board did not want me to graduate because of the time I had missed from the classroom, but Buck arranged for my Spanish teacher, Mrs. Payne to come to the hospital and my home to proctor exams and monitor homework. Then he convinced the school board to authorize my graduation. He did all of this even though, at the time of my accident I left school without permission. He was quite a guy and I always looked forward to seeing him at re-unions. After graduation from AHS I pursued my college degree from Georgetown University. All made possible by Buck;’s compassion. My deepest condolences to you. This world was a much better place because of Buck.

  2. Mr Buckley was a great person to work with. He was our weekend administrator for the Office of Continuing Education Office, Annandale Campus for many years. wWhen we had to stay open at night until 8:00 p.m. Mr. Buckley and I worked together on Monday nights. When he left us I really missed him so much. I’m so sorry for his family and my prayes are with them at this time.

  3. Mr. Buckley will always be remembered by me as the most energetic, enthusiastic and caring "older" gentleman I ever had the priviledge of knowing. We worked together in the Office of Continuing Education on the Annandale Campus of NOVA for many years. When asked how he was doing, he’d always reply, "not too bad for a young man." He was young in every way that it really mattered. I’m grateful to have known him and will miss him a lot. My deepest sympathies go out to his family.

  4. My friend, Mr. Ralph E. Buckley ("Buck") was a special individual who had good ethics and one who could size things up pretty quick and come up with a viable solution. Over the years "Buck" was a man who made a difference in hundreds, if not thousands of lives, as he gave of himself. My "Relationship" with "Buck" goes back to the middle of the 20th Century and continued until the 21st Century. Sometime after the Annandale High School (AHS) opened in 1954 and the snow had fallen, I decided that I would make a "snowball". I took the "snowball" to the rear of Mrs. McInturff’s Bus and heaved it to the front of the bus. Boy, did I stir-up a "hornet’s nest"! Later, I was taken to the Principal’s ("Buck’s") Office for my "just dessert". In the Spring of 2004, "Buck" was being recognized at a Fairfax County School Board Meeting and the "grand entrance hall" of Annandale High School was named the (Ralph E. Buckley) in his honor. For some reason, "Buck" did not have a suit coat, so I loaned him my coat for the photo session. Several photogaphs were taken on that "momentous occassion", including several former Annandale High School Students and the Fairfax County School Board Members. A few weeks later, I presented "Buck" and Edith a photo album of the Board Meeting at their lovely home. In closing, what is most important is our "Relationship" with God (Jesus Christ). See Romans 10: 9 – 10. May our prayers and encouragement continue to go out to Edith and Scott in the coming weeks ahead. Roland T. Harris, Annandale, Virginia AHS Student – Class of 1957. August 10, 2010

  5. In rural Fairfax County in the 1950’s, school was very important not only for education, but also for socializing with friends, sports and other activities, and community "togetherness." Most of us students loved our school and all the things it meant to us. Imagine our distress when in 1954, we were "re-districted" into the new Annandale High School. Our distress was quickly changed into tremendous "spirit" because Ralph Buckley, our principal. embodied spirit himself and "infected" everyone and everything about the school with it from Day 1. He made sure we immediately had the symbols of school identity such as colors, nickname, school newspaper, sports teams, etc., etc. Mr. Buckley seemed to know everyone’s name and greeted all with warm enthusiasm. And was he not always there–everywhere–keeping his fingers on the pulse of the school. In the more than half century since our class’ graduation, Mr. Buckley came to most of our reunions, continuing to remember and call most of us by name. What a man! What an honor and a privilege to have had my life touched by him. Carolyn Lynch Pflug, Class of 1957

  6. I had not seen Mr. Buckley since the mid-1960s but instantly recognized the photo — his hair is grayer, but the warm friendly smile is unchanged and his eyes still sparkle with anticipation. He was a remarkable man whose positive influence still ripples across our lives. — John Pennylegion AHS 1962

  7. I was never a stellar student and was always in "contact" with Mr. Buckley in one way or another. I finally graduated and entered the U.S.M.C. where I grew quickly. After my military service, I entered college and was a student teacher at Oxon Hill High School and who should I see coming down the hall but Mr. Buckley who was there for a meeting. He took one look at me, books and all, and said "You are not still in high school, are you"? What a person. I know he will be truly missed.

  8. Mr. Buckley was a kind and generous man with a ready smile. He honored me by assuming I would be the photographer for the senior prom, the first one I actually attended without taking pictures….

  9. Seeing Buck over the past few years at Nikki’s picnics brought back so many memories of my school days. With his passing I feel like I’ve lost a part of my childhood.

  10. Seeing Buck over the past few years at Nikki’s picnics brought back so many memories of my school days. With his passing I feel like I’ve lost a part of my childhood.

  11. There are so many positive words that could be used to describe Ralph Edward Buckley; however, the list would be unending. He loved all he came in contact with, and all who came in contact with him, loved him. I am certain that a part of Mr. Buckley is in everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him. We will meet again Buck. Love, Nikki

  12. There is little I could write that would be sufficient to relate my admiration for "Buck" and and all he has done for so many in his life, he will be sorely missed by us all! However, for me personally, a plaque on his office wall has served as a guide post throughout my adult life! It read, " I had no shoes and I complained, Until I met a man who had no feet". Thanks, Buck

  13. AHS and Mr. Ralph Buckley mark a time in life that will always be remembered. His passing freshens those memorys . He will not be forgotten. Michael Dunn

  14. I worked with Ralph Buckley my junior and senior years at Annandale High in Mechanical Drawing 3 & 4. At that time there were no offical classes for M. D. 3 & 4 so he had me work with the County . in desiging new schools and additions for Annandale and County Schools . I designed the first Annandale High building floor plan with room numbers for the students and our student hand book with a 40×50 inch framed plan for wall hanging near his office. If you remember your student red and white Adams hand book the center pages displayed this rm.numbered floor plan.. Ralph and I were good frinds and he was a great leader, mentor and advisor to me and all the students. We will all miss Mr Buckley and know he is going to a good place ever after. Jim Penrod

  15. I feel so fortunate to have known Mr. Buckley and have gone to AHS where he was the principal. My sincerest sympathies to Ms. Buckley and his son Scott and all those who knew and loved him. Mr. Buckley will never be forgotten. Words cannot describe the greatness of this man who will forever live in our hearts.

  16. If it hadn’t been for Mr. Buckley, I would not have had the chance to graduate from HS. I realize now what a problem student I was. He gave me the opportunity to graduate after my stint in the Army. I would never been able to attend the colleges and universities that I have been privileged to attend without Mr. Buckley’s help. God Bless Him.

  17. Mr. Buckly was such a sunshine in the school. His caring and friendliness was so helpful. May God’s love help the family in their lfamily.Blessings! Jan

  18. Does anyone remember meeting Ralph in the hallway when he didn’t have a smile on his face and a big "Hi" for everone? I was just a little worse than a terrible student and Ralph said to me "Wayne, if you would just pull your grades up, I will take you and your girlfriend out to dinner with my wife and I". Well, I didn’t have a girlfriend and my grades didn’t change, so I never got the dinner but I never forgot his dedication and school spirit.

  19. To me, Buck was more than my high school principal. He and Edith were true and supportive friends to the Cox family for many years. I first met them in 1953 when my Dad built their house on Keith Place and for several years we were next door neighbors. I used to mow their grass and "Granny sit" with Buck’s Mom. When my parents divorced in 1955, Buck and Edith continued their friendship and support with each of my parents without favoring one over the other. When Scott was born, my Mom became his "nanny" for several years. Along with my Dad and two favorite uncles, Buck was probably the man who had the most influence on my life. Naturally he stressed the importance of a good education and encouraged me to get good grades which I did in the 8th and 9th grades. At least I got a good foundation then because by the 10th grade, like most teenagers, I "knew everything" and didn’t think much beyond the next Saturday night. Soon it was senior year and I had no idea what to do after graduation. I had planned on college but there wasn’t much money and I wasn’t sure what to do. Buck knew I liked cars and math and suggested I take engineering at his alma mater, a place I had never heard of called VPI, now Virginia Tech. It was a land grant school so tuition was low and they had a cooperative-engineering program which provided work-study periods to help pay tuition. Buck wrote a letter of recommendation that got me admitted and later even convinced the Lion’s Club to provide a $500 scholarship to help me finish out my senior year. My experience at Tech developed my character and allowed me to pursue work that I loved at Chrysler where I even met my wife of 42 years. Without Buck’s support and guidance I don’t think I would have had those opportunities. We visited last Memorial Day and I got a chance to tell him again how much he and Edith have meant to myself, my sisters- Bonnie and Terrie, and my Mom and Dad. I suspect other students and other families may have been influenced by Mr. Buckley, I can only speak for myself. He was always a positive person, a friend and above all a teacher. I hope I am half the man he was. I will be eternally grateful to him. Bob(by) Cox – Class of ’59

  20. A memory of Mr. Buckley– He was such a kind man–I helped out in the Annandale High office on my study hall time. Funny, I never thought that would be a harbinger of things to come in my life. Never working in an office before and with the principal for heavens sake…., well he made me feel right at home. One of his many attributes I recall was how he made you feel good about yourself. Too bad we can’t bottle that. At our reunion he walked up to me and said he’d know me anywhere–called me by name. Yes, he had the ability to instill confidence and make you want to do well. We were blessed to have him. I’m glad to read he truly enjoyed working with students–it showed and he was loved. I’m sorry for your loss, Sonja

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