A Celebration of Life Service for Professor Emeritus Forrest Buckingham

A Celebration of Life Service for Professor Emeritus Forrest Buckingham

Professor Forrest Buckingham, a favourite professor here at the Faculty of Forestry from 1957 until his retirement in 1988, recently passed away in December. Professor Buckingham specialized in forest mensuration and statistics, forest climatology, and forest hydrology, teaching both undergraduate and graduate students.

A Celebration of Life Service for Professor Buckingham will take place on Saturday afternoon, April 13th at the Morley Bedford Funeral Home in Toronto. Details can be found at www.morleybedford.ca.

His family has provided the following obituary:

Forrest Morgan Buckingham

Passed away peacefully on December 7, 2018 in his 96th year at Lakeshore Lodge in Etobicoke. Devoted and loving husband of Leila (nee Mackenzie, predeceased 2017) of almost 70 years. Loving father of children Nancy Tilt (Charlie), John, Andrea McKay (Doug) and Cheryl Brownlie (Michael). Proud grandfather of Whitney (Kyle), Margaret, Amanda, Claire (Mark), Jeanine, Emma and Nicholas. Fascinated great-grandfather of Olivia and twins, Lillian and Madelaine. Pre-deceased by his daughter-in-law, Ena.
Forrest was born in Hartford, Connecticut on February 12, 1923 and grew up in Belmont, Massachusetts. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy for his final two years of high school, graduating from there in 1940. He studied at Harvard until deciding to enlist in the US Navy.

During WWII Forrest served on the USS Benson, the first of the 30 or so Benson-Class destroyers deployed during the war. He spent 2 1/2 years as a sub-lieutenant gunnery officer in Oran, Algeria engaged in various naval operations in the Mediterranean. In early 1945, while his ship was sent to the South Pacific, Forrest upgraded his training in Washington to lead gunnery teams on the destroyer’s larger guns. After his training he rejoined the USS Benson after a journey that included a two-week stay in San Francisco and a trip to Hawaii by freighter, where he stayed for another two weeks before meeting his ship in Ulithi.

It was during his Navy years that he felt the call to pursue a career in Forestry. He found a program to his liking at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. It was there he met Leila. They married, and after obtaining a Master’s degree at Harvard and working as a Forester for Bathurst Pulp and Paper, they returned to Fredericton, where he accepted a position as Professor at UNB’s School of Forestry. In the post-war era, many of his students were a number of years older. Always looking young for his age, this offered him both challenges and moments of memorable humour.

In 1957, with two children on board, the family moved to Toronto where he took a position as Forestry Professor at the University of Toronto. He genuinely loved teaching. His students valued his encouragement and help in developing their strengths and finding their career paths. One of his favourite activities was Spring Camp where students learned the practical applications of their profession. Forrest loved the outdoors. He was a fast walker much to the chagrin of his students who told us of breath-taking efforts to keep up with him.

In 1963, with three children on board, Forrest decided to do his doctorate at Duke University in North Carolina. We arrived during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, school integration and Kennedy’s assassination. It was an educational adventure on many different levels for all of us.

In 1965, with four children on board, the family returned to the U of T Faculty of Forestry where Forrest continued as a highly respected Professor until his retirement in 1988.

A devoted father, Forrest played an active role in his children’s interests and accomplishments. Ever the teacher, he read to us from a very early age. He took an interest in our school work and provided guidance as required. We had to do the work, though. He was a stickler for good grammar, good writing and good speech. As grown children, we have found those skills invaluable in many situations. Former students have told us that was one of Dad’s gifts to them too.

We have many happy memories of family road trips during summer vacation and other holidays. Over the years we travelled across Canada and down the eastern seaboard of the United States. Forrest was an avid camper and introduced all of us to “simple living”. Our accommodation on our earlier trips was a large tent packed efficiently in a station wagon with all the other basic necessities. Later we graduated to a tent trailer packed equally efficiently.

Forrest and Leila were regular church-goers and engaged in church activities, wherever we lived. We grew up knowing Sundays as a day for church, reflection and rest. Forrest served as a warden at All Saints Kingsway and St. John’s York Mills, the latter during the 1980s. He was also an active member of the Men’s Club at St. John’s.

Forrest particularly enjoyed classical music, puzzles, reading, cribbage and thinking about the issues of the day. While puzzles, reading and cribbage gradually became inaccessible to him in his final year, he drew comfort and peace from listening to his favourite composers….and he never stopped thinking. It was fascinating to sit and listen to where his mind would take him.

Forrest was a gentleman, thoughtful, kind and cooperative. He preferred compromise to confrontation. He taught us to get along with others, but also to think carefully in whatever situation we might find ourselves.

A Celebration of Life will be held the afternoon of Saturday, April 13th at the Morley Bedford Funeral Home in Toronto (details at www.morleybedford.ca). Memorial donations may be made to the Canadian Cancer Society, the Nature Conservancy of Canada or charity of your choice.