Longtime Aurora educator, state legislator John Buckner dies at 67

910

 

AURORA | State Rep. John Buckner, D-Aurora died Thursday after a brief bout with the inflammatory disease sarcoidosis. He was 67.

A memorial service is slated for 11 a.m. June 12 at New Hope Baptist Church, 3701 Colorado Blvd. in Denver.

Mr. Buckner, who represented Colorado House District 40 in southern Aurora, took leave from the General Assembly in April for the remainder of the legislative session to address health concerns.

In the state House,  Mr. Buckner was chairman of the House Education Committee, where he was a proponent of streamlining Colorado student assessments.

“What a lovely, smart, accomplished man,” said state Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, on Twitter after hearing word of Buckner’s death. “He will be sorely missed at (the General Assembly).”

Before he was first elected to the Colorado House in 2012 in a win over incumbent Cindy Acree, Mr. Buckner was best known as an educator and administrator at Cherry Creek School District. He was named assistant principal at  Laredo Middle School in 1975, and later worked as an assistant principal at Smoky Hill High School and Prairie Middle School. But his career is best remembered for his tenure as principal at Overland High School, where he worked from 1988 to 2005. The gymnasium at Overland was named in his honor.

“I want to fundamentally change the conversation,” Buckner said during his first run for House District 40 in 2012. “Government should be an active participant in the creation of opportunities. I am wholly confident in the American system and … I believe that collectively, we are much better than we are individually.”

Buckner won a second term in the 2014 general election.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, said he was “greatly saddened” by the news of Mr. Buckner’s death.

“I’ve known him for 30 years, going through the Aurora Chamber of Commerce’s first leadership class with him in 1985,” Coffman said. “I always found him to be kind, soft spoken and passionate about public education. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones.”

Mr. Buckner also served on the boards of the Colorado Institute for Educational Inquiry, the Multi-Culture Task Force for Cherry Creek Schools, and the Colorado State Board of Education’s Principal and Administrator Standards Board. He also served as executive director for Excellence and Equity for Cherry Creek Schools.

“We lost a great legislator, educator, leader, and mentor,” fellow Auroran and state Rep. Jovan Melton said. “John was truly all of these things to me … Words can’t express the loss I feel for his family and loved ones, for the thousands of students he taught, and for the entire State of Colorado.”

Mr. Buckner is survived by his wife, Janet; twin daughters, Joy and Jennifer; a son, Jay; and three grandchildren.

“He was a great statesman and was a voice of clarity and conviction on educational policy,” said state Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora. “The world has lost a tireless advocate for kids, families, justice and equal rights.”

A committee of Democratic Party members will convene in the coming weeks to address the vacancy in the Legislature created by Mr. Buckner’s death.

A memorial fund to support medical research and educational causes in Mr. Buckner’s name. To learn more, visit www.gofundme.com/JohnWBuckner.

 

0 0 vote
Article Rating
15 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jon_Amendall
Jon_Amendall
6 years ago

We disagreed with Mr. Buckner on almost every issue, but send our condolences to his family and the Colorado Assembly.

ST
ST
6 years ago
Reply to  Jon_Amendall

In the wake of someones death, it is incredibly inappropriate to bring up your political feelings about the man. His family just lost their father and their husband. Thousands of Overland grads just lost their principal. And you bring up politics. Shame on you.

jmfay
jmfay
6 years ago
Reply to  ST

He was the former Principal; not the current one.
He was a politician so what do you expect?

ST
ST
6 years ago
Reply to  jmfay

I am fully aware that he wasn’t the current Principal. However, he was the Principal of Overland for many, many years. All of my years at OHS he was the principal. I have kept my contact with the school and know when he left. I expect some respect for a man who was much more than a politician.

nick losito
nick losito
6 years ago
Reply to  ST

He chose to put the D by his name that will follow him forever. When Bill Clinton passes I will feel for his loved ones but still disagree with his policies. ST you must realize politics will come into play when these people devote their lives to it…

D K
D K
6 years ago
Reply to  nick losito

John dedicated his life to much more than politics. I personally think it’s more appropriate to speak of policy differences when one goes further and speaks about the kind of man he was and his character, as TisSheila did.

TisSheilah
TisSheilah
6 years ago
Reply to  D K

Many of us never knew John Buckner beyond politics. Maybe in the days and weeks to come we can get to know more about his legacy. We may even get the chance to come together to honor him in the near future – perhaps by donating time or money to a cause or pet project.

Right now, I’ll just pray for the family and friends.

TisSheilah
TisSheilah
6 years ago
Reply to  ST

There is no shame in bringing up political opinions. I disagreed with John Buckner a lot. In spite of this disgreement, Buckner was never hostile, never rude, never raised his voice and did his best to present his viewpoint with as much detail as possible. His emails were usually answered promptly and in-depth. I remember him being a calming influence on a room where other lawmakers were frustrated over angry citizens voicing their concerns over gun rights legislation. That’s how I’m going to remember him.

I have a lot of respect for John Buckner, even though I disagreed with him. I think that says a lot about the way he lived his life. He was a leader. He was respected. He was loved dearly (and I’m sure he still is). I find no shame is saying that.

D K
D K
6 years ago
Reply to  TisSheilah

I think you stated your position respectfully. Thank you for that.

TisSheilah
TisSheilah
6 years ago
Reply to  D K

I have to admit that I will miss his voice. He was my representative and a frequent face at local town hall meetings. He was even answering constituent emails despite his illness.

If you knew him, D.K., I’m sorry for your loss.

D K
D K
6 years ago
Reply to  TisSheilah

Thank you, TisSheilah. John was a neighbor and a friend. Janet is a dear friend. John and Janet were/are two of the loveliest people I’ve ever known. I’m not surprised that he was still answering constituent emails during his illness.

Jon_Amendall
Jon_Amendall
6 years ago
Reply to  ST

Curious. We express condolences about a politician with whom we disagreed, and you castigate us over “political feelings”. Civility over human loss is met with shaming. Disagreement is not “feelings”, madam, and our feelings on the matter are ones of sadness.

Geoffrey Hierholz
Geoffrey Hierholz
6 years ago

My condolences to the Buckner family during this time of grieving.

PK Kaiser
6 years ago

My condolences to the Buckner’s family during this difficult time.

I lost House District 40 Primary Nomination to John Buckner in 2012 by a single vote. But later when I came closer to John Buckner during his two campaigns and in all the meetings and personal discussions, I felt that John was the best choice we had after redistricting of the House District 40.

Since John and Janet’s daughter is working in Dubai, the services might be in a week & half.

D K
D K
6 years ago
Reply to  PK Kaiser

PK, that was a gracious statement.