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James "Jim" Buckner Jr. '76 January 19, 2017 11:54 AM updated: January 19, 2017 11:59 AM

(Published in) Galveston Daily News (on) January 12, 2017

James E. Buckner, Jr.

Following a tragic accident, James E. Buckner, Jr. passed beyond the veil January 9, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. He was born September 30, 1954 in Galveston, Texas, the oldest son of Shirley Harrington Buckner and James Ernest Buckner. He is survived by his father, James E. Buckner, of League City, Tx, his brother, Robert E. Buckner of La Marque, Tx, his high school sweetheart and wife of over 42 years, Rebecca Southworth Buckner, and their four daughters:
J. Elizabeth Ericksen (Steve) of Hooper, Utah; Sarah Kathryn Jeter (Joseph) of Mont Belvieu, Tx; Melissa Christine Mathews (Michael) of Damon, Tx; Jessica Lauren Davis (Andrew) of Lockhart, Tx; as well as adopted daughter Stephanie Michelle DeVictoria (Aaron), her brothers and Papa T. Jim is also survived by 18 grandchildren: Benjamin James, Haley, Jacob and Zachary Ericksen; Nathaniel, Isaac, Caleb Harrington, Rachel, Tirzah and Eve Jeter; Tessa, Piper and Blythe Mathews; and Claire, Luke, Jonathan James, Rebecca Wren, and Leo Fox Davis. He is also survived by numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was predeceased by his Mother and grandparents, Randall and Ora “Dimples” Harrington of Port Bolivar, Alice and step-grandfather Alfred Harryman of Galveston, and grandfather Worth Bagley Buckner who was killed in WWII while serving in the Merchant Marine.

Jim graduated from Texas A&M University in the Centennial Class of 1976 as a distinguished military student and distinguished military graduate with a degree in Wildlife Fisheries Science and worked for the Texas A&M Marine Advisory Service as a Marine agent for five years for Jefferson and Chambers Counties, while doing graduate work in Fisheries Economics and afterward. During that time he helped many rice farmers convert their agricultural concerns to crawfish farming and served as liaison between commercial fishing businesses and advances being made in Marine Biology at the academic level. Jim was very successful at this, having the every man quality that made it possible for him to communicate with those more highly educated than he as well as many he so loved and respected with little formal education. In 1983 he formed a partnership with a commercial fisherman and dear friend, Eddie Lee Nelson, and founded Redfish Culture Farm. Together they were able to create the optimal conditions which enabled their redfish fingerlings to grow to maturity and spawn out of season in a controlled environment. They also built one of the first shrimp farms in the state of Texas.

In 1987 Jim returned to graduate school and, building on his economics studies, completed a degree in Masters of Healthcare Administration. Over the intervening years he served as CEO at Eagle Lake Community Hospital, Cuero Community Hospital, Uvalde Memorial Hospital, and Dimmit Regional Hospital. During his tenure as CEO Jim built two state of the art Labor and Delivery Units, a new Emergency Room facility, state of the art Surgical Suites, and as CEO in Uvalde helped develop the charitable foundation that made the Kate Marmion Regional Cancer Center possible, built the Women’s Imaging Center, and made sure the hospital kept up with state-of-the-art medical care by obtaining a 256-slice CT scanner, one of only three such scanners in use in the state at that time. In 2011 Jim was honored at the annual meeting of the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals (TORCH) with the Gordon Russell Merit Award. Speaking of him at the time, TORCH Chairman John Henderson stated, “It’s not an overstatement to say that small hospitals and rural patients all across Texas have benefited from Jim Buckner’s service.” He served a two year term as Chairman of TORCH and on the board of the Texas Hospital Association. He also recruited and brought five new physicians to Uvalde Medical Care. In addition to his day job, Jim served on Governor Perry’s Medicare Reform Board in Austin, representing the American Hospital Association as he testified before the United States House of Representatives on behalf of the Texas Hospital Association regarding a Medicaid Reform Bill, and met regularly with Uvalde’s state and federal representatives who valued his expertise and opinion. Under Jim’s leadership in 2012 Uvalde Memorial Hospital was awarded the Press Ganey Distinctive Workplace Award, one of 13 hospitals so honored among their 10,000 hospital clients. At the time of the award UMH had remained above the 95th percentile for such outstanding quality for three years in a row. In 2013 UMH was named Uvalde’s Business of the Year, and like a proud papa, Jim was bursting with pride over the great work of his hospital family. Jim began his CEO tenure at Dimmit Regional Hospital in December 2013. He was not only a builder of buildings and a passionate advocate of rural healthcare, he was also a builder of people. Though he had many opportunities to move to corporate positions in larger healthcare systems, Jim was a people person, loved his hospital families, and knew he would not be happy away from his employees and patients.

All who knew Jim knew he was an avid outdoorsman, saltwater fishing, kayaking, scuba diving, camping, and hunting. He also inherited his mother’s green thumb and loved to work in the yard. He was also an enthusiastic fan of the Houston Astros and San Antonio Spurs. And those closest to him knew that while he felt he had a calling and a mission in rural healthcare, his greatest joy in life came from his family, being Sweet Baby James, Dad, and Paca — traveling, enjoying Spurs games, yard work, and concerts with Rebecca and together playing with their canine babies Callie and Logan, playing his guitar and singing with the family around a campfire, teaching his grandchildren to kayak, play baseball, fish and shoot their BB guns, and sharing with them his in-depth knowledge and love of the Texas Gulf Coast, its ecosystem, and the importance of balance and thoughtful stewardship he had learned watching the changes over the years on his beloved beaches. These lessons transferred to other areas of his life.

From a young child Jim had a strong testimony of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In 1983 Jim and Rebecca were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Jim served as Branch President in three different congregations as well as a Stake High Councilman. His favorite callings though always involved children, teaching the Primary children and serving as Young Men’s President in several Wards.

Viewing and visitation was Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 P.M. at Rushing Estes Knowles Mortuary in Uvalde, Texas. Memorial services will be held Friday at 10 A.M. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Ham Lane in Uvalde, Texas. Graveside services will be held at 2:00pm on Saturday, January 14th at Galveston County Memorial Cemetery in Hitchcock, Texas.

Memorials to be sent to Dimmit Regional Hospital for The Dimmit Regional Women’s Imaging Center in Carrizo Springs, Texas.

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