Kenneth Cook Buker Jr.

Published 12:50 pm Monday, July 25, 2016

Kenneth Cook Buker Jr. died on July 9, 2016.

He was born in Washington, DC on Oct. 23, 1922 to Katherine Nagengast Buker and Kenneth Cook Buker. At a young age he demonstrated a natural gift for music which he enjoyed all his life on various instruments. Before his teenage years he was playing the trumpet at his father’s church and scout functions and later was a part of the original Washington Redskin pep band. During his high school years he also held a number of jobs among them — soda jerk, Western Union messenger and British Consulate messenger. In 1942 he enlisted in the US Coast Guard and was assigned to the following ships: USS MIGHT (PG 94), USS Pettit (DE 253) and US Army Y 109. The USS MIGHT convoyed from 60 to 180 ships from Staton Island, N.Y. to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The US Army Y-109 was a tanker used to unload bigger tankers between Pacific Islands. As ship navigator he helped the Y-109 cross the Pacific alone for the 59 days it took to travel from Panama Canal to Milne Bay New Guinea. As a returning veteran he entered the University of Maryland and joined the university’s marching band as solo trumpet player. In the marching band he met Anne Caroline Engle. They married June 28, 1947 in Silver Springs, Md. After graduating from the University of Maryland he applied to Secret Service and while waiting for the needed security clearance went to work for Liberty Mutual Insurance. He stayed in the insurance field the rest of his working life, accepting responsibility for North & South Carolina when he joined General Insurance Co. of America in 1953. In 1956 he moved the office from Greensboro to Charlotte. General Insurance of America later became SAFECO Insurance. He worked for SAFECO until his retirement in 1982. When they came to Charlotte in 1956, they joined the Owenby Class at Myers Park United Methodist Church. Over the years he taught Jr. High Sunday School, served on boards and committees and became a Stephen Minister. He also became an active member of the church’s Boy Scout Troop Committee. After retiring from SAFECO he continued to enjoy traveling, fishing, playing Queen City Tennis for Barclay Downs. He took a course in woodcarving at the Shepherd Center and this led to joining with his friend Lee Dukes to teach woodcarving at the church’s Wonderful Wednesday classes. Eventually he was part of a group that helped found the Charlotte Woodcarvers Club. He enjoyed getting to know new people including his Hospice team. He delighted in the interests and accomplishments of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

He was also preceded in death by: a daughter, Mary Katherine Buker Sparks; and a sister, Barbara Buker Burgoon.

Survivors: his wife, Anne Engle Buker; daughter, Ruth Buker Foushee and husband Giles; son, Kenneth Cook Buker III and wife Lori; son-in-law, Dwight Sparks; grandchildren, John (JG) and Madison Foushee, Kenneth IV (KC) and Emily Buker, Paul and Robert Sparks; and great-grandchildren, Cayden, Chloe and Abby Kate Sparks.

A memorial service was held on Saturday, July 23, in the Francis Chapel of Myers Park United Methodist Church.

Memorials: Myers Park UMC, 1501 Queens Road, Charlotte, 28207.