Robert D. Buckner

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Robert Dean Buckner, 94, of Elkader, died Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, at Elkader Care Center, Elkader. He was born in Marion on Jan. 19, 1926, to Mike “MJ” and Neola (Staman) Buckner. Robert (Bob) was a beloved son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend.  

Bob was raised in Marion, where he met the love of his life, Dorothy Dearborn Dumbolton. After graduating from high school, a tumultuous time in our nation’s history, he entered the military. Hoping to follow in the path of his idol, Dorothy’s Uncle William Reed—an original Flying Tiger—he applied to the Air Force. Learning he was color blind, Bob joined the Marine Corps in 1943 where he honorably served for three years. In the effort to capture the Island of Iwo Jima from the Imperial Japanese Army, at age 19, Bob served for 32 days as part of Easy Company in the 5th Marine Division. He was one of 16 members of Easy Company to survive the battle on Iwo Jima, and was less than 1,000 yards from the famous flag raising. After Iwo Jima, he served during the occupation of Japan.

Upon honorable discharge from the Marine Corps, Bob was united in marriage with Dorothy on Dec. 27, 1946, in his hometown of Marion. Married for 73 years, five children were born to this union: Jim, Sandy, Karen, John and Robin.  

After time in the military, Bob received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa and his masters from the University of Iowa. He entered a lifelong career in education serving as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent where his passion for education, and the students, was evident each and every day. Bob achieved many successes in his career. A highlight of his coaching years included the Central City state championship baseball team. As a superintendent of Central Community Schools for nearly 33 years, he was instrumental in bringing girls sports to Elkader.    

Bob was an enthusiastic sportsman, enjoying baseball, golfing and fishing. He was an avid fan of the Chicago Cubs, proudly honored at Wrigley Field for his military service. Some of his fondest memories were fishing with his sons, Jim and John, in Canada, and visiting family in Montana.  

Bob is survived by his loving wife of 73 years, Dorothy of Elkader; sister Carol Jean Burns-Zimpfer of Walker; children, Jim (Georgia) Buckner of Abilene, Texas, Sandy (Tom) Carrico of Oelwein, Karen (Dennis) Maggert of Billings, Mont., John (Mary) Buckner of Grayslake, Ill., and Robin (Bob) Zacher of Lake Bluff, Ill.; grandchildren, James (Kathy) Buckner, Kristina Buckner, Matthew (Jami) Carrico, Heather (Rick) Patch, Kristy (Matt) Hamar, Lyndsay (Eric) Whirley, Erin (Harrison) Karlin, Brenna Buckner, Johnny Buckner, Nicholas Zacher and Allison Zacher; great-grandchildren, Preston Buckner, Haley Carrico, Macy Carrico, Molly Patch, Alexander Patch, Ian Hamar, Miah Hamar, Noah Hamar, Madisen Whirley and Emily Whirley.

Bob and Dorothy were lucky enough to have a very special neighbor and friend in Mary Lee Witt. Mary Lee was more than a neighbor; she was an angel. She helped Bob and Dorothy in many ways.

Robert is preceded in death by his parents. 

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 16, at Peace United Church of Christ, Elkader, with Rev. Jon Haack as the officiant.

Inurnment to be held at a later date

Leonard-Grau Funeral Home and Cremation Service, Elkader, is helping the family with the arrangements.

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