In Memorium Beverly K. Buckley
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aka "The Dog Lady"; "Queen of Sarcasm"; "The Energizer Bunny"
Educator, Artist, Master Bureaucrat, Partner

Caring, perseverant (some say stubborn), relentless, sensitive, artistic, passionate, pragmatic, resourceful, exceptionally intelligent and sometimes downright cranky. Bev was an enigma, even to those who knew her well. Completely fluent in French, with passable German and Spanish she had a gift for language, and made pie crusts look easy.

Early Years
The eldest of four children, she is survived by Donna, Patricia and Jimmy. She spent much of her early years as Mom #2 in her family. It prepared her well for raising her beloved daughter Kirsten. She grew up in a modest middle class home in the D.C. area, where she was a state champ in baking and sewing.

She won a scholarship to the Universite de Strasbourg in France. She signed up for math classes, figuring it would be easier to learn French by starting with something she already knew. She rode the rails of Europe before returning to the U.S. to complete her B.A. at Juniata College. She met her first husband Michael during that time, when her daughter Kirsten was born. Alas, she became a single mother in New York. She took work as an au pair to the Peele family, as a cook/counselor for summer camps, and a budget analyst for the state of New York. Eventually she moved to Arizona to be with her family.

In 1975 she joined the Tucson Police Department where she moved up to become Personnel Supervisor and assistant to two Chiefs of Police. She was awarded the "Copper Letter" from the Mayor for outstanding service to the city. Always independent, even in the days before political correctness, she always told me, "I was doing just fine till the liberals decided I needed help."

What She Did
In 1983 she moved to the University of Arizona, starting as Assistant to the Provost. It was here that her skills as a politician and master manipulator of bureaucracy were honed. She used this time to work on her Masters in Public Administration. We met in a graduate class, where we were paired up for a "negotiation" exercise. Given 2 hours to reach a settlement, we found a solution in 10 minutes, and wandered over to Gentle Bens for a couple of beers. In grad school we were both statistics junkies and after a few weeks we both knew we had found the right partner.

Bev again moved up the ladder to become Director of Systems Control where she was responsible for making sure everybody got paid on time and out of the right pot of money -- eventually she took over as Database Administrator for the Budget/HR database. She also took on special projects. Bev completed the first thorough, statistically sophisticated, salary equity study ever done at the UofA. She was chair of the Data Stewards committee (building a unified data dictionary for the University). She created the Bright Ideas program for employee suggestions. Bev took over as lead Systems Analyst for overhauling PSOS (the Personnel/Budget program). She also introduced flex-time scheduling for staff positions, and created innumerable training, education, and process streamlining to the budget system. When she retired in 2005, her department was running on essentially the same budget as it was in 1988. She won the Governor's Award for Excellence in 1996 and the Arizona Public Administrators Award for Excellence in 1998.

An Unlikely Team
Accomplishments are fine, but it doesn't help you know who she was. So how does a sensitive caring public servant wind up working with a blunt crusty old mining engineer? The answer is quite well. We covered each others weaknesses. We got our Masters degrees together in 1986. We joined forces with a leaky roofed condo, three dogs and a bunch of debt. Bev wasn't a big risk taker, I was. Bev was a master politician, I wasn't. I taught her much of what I knew about project and information management. She taught me how to deal with an irrational world. My idea of managing a meeting was to grab my broadsword, and wack people into submission. Bev preferred a more surgical approach with razor blade and band aids. She was much more effective.

I remember when she presented a consolidated personnel form that would replace 8-10 different documents with just one. She came home from President's Council discouraged. Faculty couldn't possibly be treated the same as staff - when they needed to change their home address. The Mr. Spock in me was screaming "illogical". Bev thought about it. Took the form, reprinted it with a different font, on different colored paper for faculty. The next day it was unanimously approved. A perfect "Bev Solution". Nothing pleased me more than hearing her come home after she told some high level bureaucrat to "grow a pair" or walked out of a meeting because she thought it was a waste of time.
She staked me to a Ph.D. and kept my head in the game, even when my father passed during my dissertation. She helped me orchestrate my oral defense, schooled me on toning it back, even baked brownies for the committee. Done in 2 hours. (The secret to those killer brownies is Olive Oil!)

Throughout her career, she always cared about the individuals at the other side of the system. When somebody bungled paperwork, or circumvented procedures, Bev always found a way to make sure that the employee got paid. And always went the extra mile to make sure her own people were taken care of. Bev was much happier with projects that had a goal. She despised meetings, petty politics and coddling those with too-thin skin.
She always manged to surprise me with some new insight or observation. Always a challenge intellectually and creative in her solutions. Truly my partner, my peer, and one of brightest and insightful people I ever met.

Converting the Curmudgeon into a Dog Lover
When we moved in together, I was not a big pet person. She had two cockers Burt & Farrah. I was resistant to having them in the house all the time. I was rapidly converted. We soon acquired Max from a military family about to be deployed. I fell in love with him. We raised two litters of cocker spaniels from Max and Farrah. We were never without canine company again. At the UofA she became the Dog Lady, finding the right homes for pets who had lost their families. We fostered puppies, and eventually Bev volunteered at the Humane Society. In two weeks we went from three dogs to six dogs. Even she realized we were destined to become the crazy people in the trailer in the desert with dozens of strays. We also realized there were great adoptable dogs that needed homes. So we stopped raising puppies, and adopted when we could. Several pictures in the gallery are of current and past pets.

Bogart, a scary looking shepherd/chow mix was no doubt her favorite. Her constant companion, protector, and quiet alpha male, she grieved for him for years. I know they will find each other and run with their faces to the breeze. Two of the best gifts she ever gave me -- Radar (my rescue Rottie mix & best bud) and my Rockwell JawHorse. She is survived by Radar, and our two 12 year old "sisters" Carmella (120 lb Bloodhound) & Sophie (25 lb cocker)

Artist & Teacher
Despite all of her career accomplishments, she thought of herself as a teacher first. After she retired in 2005, she began teaching Algebra for Pima Community College, quickly becoming popular with students and sought after by PCC. She worked harder at teaching than anybody I know. Students have kept in touch. She got great pleasure from hearing that somebody "finally got it" and moved on to bigger and better things.

Bev always enjoyed music, mostly contemporary and classical and loved the symphony. She joined the faculty/staff choir for a couple of years. She enjoyed performing, even though she was more alto than soprano. She did a unique cover of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" on her accordian. I think everybody was pretty impressed.

Bev always had a creative side. She sketched, painted, wrote poetry, and sewed. Like everything else she did, each sewing project became immersive and all consuming. Despite a series of health setbacks over the last 3 years, she managed to complete a variety of table runners, placemats, dresses, pillows and throws for those she cared about. If you have one of her pieces, treasure it for us.

Her artwork will be on display at her life celebration/memorial. It provides some insight into the enigmatic spirit that I loved so much. She had eclectic taste in music, loved historical biographies and murder mysteries, and wound up as a total news junkie as far as TV goes.

Finally at Peace
I'd never say we had a storybook marriage. Like all people, we had our dark moments. Bev was intensely private and not particularly social but always looked forward to visits from her daughter Kirsten, and our few friends, particularly younger children. How she could so easily relate to a 12 year old boy is still a mystery to me. The last three years have been a challenge and a gift. Somehow, she got me through five cancer surgeries & radiation. She had two miraculous recoveries: from a cerebral hemorrhage; and a fall that impaled her thigh on a piece of iron. Though she felt she'd seen far too many doctors and hospitals, she remained determined to reclaim her life.

In many ways, our dependence on each other brought us back to the beginning of our time together, united in a struggle to rebuild our lives and recall what brought and kept us together. We both believe:

  • sarcasm is a lost art;
  • political correctness has removed accomplishment from the workplace; sometimes an idiot is just an idiot
  • work should be it's own reward, not just a means to an end;
  • who cares what the rest of the world thinks about our (or your) life choices;
  • you have the right to your faith and beliefs, but no right to make us all live by them;
  • no religious group has an inside track, we are all to be judged by the body of work on this planet;
  • quality of life is more important than quantity of life;
  • common sense ain't so common;
  • everybody is responsible for himself /herself, help is a gift not an entitlement;
  • be useful before and after death;
  • we'd vote for any candidate who has the guts to actually take stand and put forth a plan;
  • style and fashion should be dictated by what's comfortable and doesn't itch;
  • we may not have danced with wolves, but we're proud to sleep with dogs.

I know after 26 years together, I must build a new life. Bev will always be a part of it. I will miss that big smile. She will live as long we remember her. I will carry out my promises to take care of her dogs, and help her daughter Kirsten carry on the life of her choosing.

Lou Coraggio, Husband, Partner, Best Friend, May 17, 2012

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