Angela Buckley left it in the hands of the mayor’s office to select a park bench as a memorial to her husband, Deputy Fire Chief Robert Buckley Jr.
She arranged to dedicate the bench on his birthday, July 29, but had not seen the bench she paid for and which city workers had cemented in place at Bradford Common, where she and her husband often went for walks together.
Buckley arrived early, before the mayor, and when she finally saw the bench her eyes teared. For a short time it was just her, the bench and the love she felt for the man she lost to cancer three years ago.
“Happy birthday, babe,” she said to her husband.
It was her gift to the city as well, and one she hopes the public will enjoy using.
Buckley said she wanted to have an intimate dedication ceremony attended just by her and the mayor, who brought a woman from his office to take a picture.
“He would have wanted it to be simple,” Buckley said about her husband. “It was my birthday gift to my husband and I miss him terribly.”
Robert Buckley Jr. died of cancer Aug. 30, 2010, at his home, surrounded by his family. He rose through the ranks after being appointed to the Fire Department in September 1985. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1989, captain in 1993 and deputy chief in 2002. In May 2010, he retired from the department.
Angela Buckley said she was thinking of creating some sort of lasting tribute to her husband last year when she heard about the city’s memorial bench program. She said she contacted the mayor’s chief of staff, David Van Dam, who outlined the program and told her he’d take care of the details.
“David asked where I might like a bench and I told him the little common, which my husband loved and where we went on walks together,” she said.