Richard Buck Jr.

[ Age 85 ] Valleys Planning Council president pushed for preservation of Green Spring and Worthington valleys

January 31, 2007|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Richard Bayly Buck Jr., who as president and chairman of the Valleys Planning Council worked diligently for the preservation of the scenic Green Spring and Worthington valleys, died Saturday of cancer at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. The Lutherville resident was 85.

Mr. Buck was born in Baltimore and raised on Overhill Road in Roland Park. He was a 1940 graduate of Episcopal High School in Richmond, Va., and began his college studies at the University of Virginia.

During World War II, he enlisted in the Army and served as a paratrooper with the 13th Airborne Division in France. After the war, he returned to the University of Virginia, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1946.

In 1949, he earned a law degree from the University of Virginia Law School and went to work for the Buck Glass Co. in South Baltimore. He was in sales and was treasurer of the family-owned business that had been established in the early 1920s by his father and an uncle.

Subsequently, Mr. Buck worked as a stockbroker at Alex. Brown & Sons and was personnel director for Carling Brewing Co. Until retiring in the late 1990s, he had been director of Pickersgill Retirement Community in Towson for more than a decade.

In the mid-1960s, Mr. Buck began his four-decade affiliation with the Valleys Planning Council, which had been established in northern Baltimore County in 1962, after the Philadelphia-based architectural firm of Wallace-McHarg developed The Plan for the Valleys.

"The plan was one of the first efforts to direct growth and control sprawl," said Teresa A. Moore, current executive director of the Valleys Planning Council. "The report was a forerunner to the thinking associated with Smart Growth."

Because he loved the Green Spring and Worthington valleys and appreciated their history, Mr. Buck joined in the efforts of the Valleys Planning Council. He was president of the council for 25 years. He was named chairman in 2001 and remained active with the organization until his health began to fail last year.

Mr. Buck explained his philosophy in a 2005 article in The Sun: "By the time the bulldozers arrive, it's too late to fight."

"He had a charming wit and his years of service and institutional knowledge made him invaluable to the organization," Ms. Moore said.

It wasn't uncommon for Mr. Buck to get on the telephone to urge members to send in their annual gifts before the end of the year. "He called it `rallying the faithful,'" Ms. Moore said.

Mr. Buck employed his charm and diplomacy in helping to defuse situations and find agreeable solutions.

"Dick was the epitome of the Southern gentleman who got things done by bringing a common-sense approach to problems," said J. John "Jack" Dillon, former executive director of the VPC.

When residents worried about Villa Julie College expansion, for instance, it was Mr. Buck who helped find a solution agreeable to all parties. "Dick played a huge role in that issue, and we now have an excellent rapport with the college because of his work," Mr. Dillon said.

"Dick was just a wonderful human being and made sure that Valleys Planning Council was the eyes and ears of the valley, and in truth, he was the heart and soul of the organization," said Margaret Worrall, executive director of the organization from 1991 to 1995.

In recognition of his years of work, the council presented its first McHarg Award to Mr. Buck in 2001.

Mr. Buck was also a mentor with Genesis Jobs and a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. He was a member of the Greenspring Valley Hunt Club and Bachelors Cotillon.

He enjoyed sailing and was a founder of the Ancient Mariners, a sailing group. A hunter, he was a member of the Wading Place Hunting Lodge in Stevensville.

He was a longtime communicant, vestryman and Sunday school teacher at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 232 St. Thomas Lane, Owings Mills, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. today.

Surviving are his wife of 59 years, the former Joan Stewart Elliott; a son, Richard Bayly Buck III of Hydes; two daughters, Laura Speed Buck of Towson and Gabrielle Buck Bennett of Eely, England; a sister, Julia Buck Kringel of Menlo Park, N.J.; and four grandchildren.

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