Buckles a ‘family man’: Family recalls local who died in accident

Published 12:05 am Monday, April 15, 2013

NATCHEZ — John Henry Buckles’ hands built a career working on the Hoover Dam, at Area 51, the Alaskan pipeline, Lake Mead and many other places.

His family says Buckles was the foundation on which their family was constructed.

Buckles was born in Church Hill and worked as a cement finisher around the country, his daughter Jonnie McCarty said. He spent many years in Las Vegas, McCarty said, and helped build several hotels, Bethel Baptist Church, Lake Mead, as well as did work at the Hoover Dam and Area 51.

Email newsletter signup

Buckles, 91, died from injuries he sustained Saturday night after his truck was struck from behind on U.S. 84 and flipped into a ditch.

Another truck driven by 34-year-old Cameron Nicholas Collier reportedly collided with Buckles. Collier was reportedly driving under the influence at the time of the wreck, a Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman said.

Collier was charged with driving under the influence causing death late Saturday night.

McCarty, of Boynton Beach, Fla., said it has been a difficult time for her family. McCarty recalled memories of her father and said he did many things in his life, but was most important a family man.

Buckles moved back to Natchez 40 or 50 years ago, McCarty said to care for his ailing parents. He also cared for his siblings that became ill over the years.

“He had finally gotten to where he wasn’t having to take care of anyone, and he doesn’t get a chance to enjoy himself now,” McCarty said.

Buckles had also been looking forward to the reunion he had planned in Omaha, Neb., in July, McCarty said. Buckles had eight children and a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.

“He was so family-oriented,” she said. “He loved to take vacations with the kids.”

Buckles was a deacon at Taylor Chapel in Church Hill and was an avid fishermen, McCarty said.

Buckles was a civil rights activist in the 1960s and helped organize the Las Vegas NAACP along with Woodrow Wilson before Wilson became a Nevada senator.

Buckles’ also helped build several hotels while working in Fairbanks, Alaska.

His commitment to family is equally as impressive as his career, McCarty said.

“Even doing all that, he was such a family man,” she said.

McCarty said she never saw her father get angry about anything.

“It’s difficult to put into words how nice he was without being cliché, but if you talked to anyone, they would say the same about him,” she said. “He was just so nice.”