Tribute to Lucien A. Buck, delivered June 18, 1998 by Bob Youth


The memories that one has of someone are a poor substitute for the reality of life experiences that were shared. In this context, whenever someone dies a wave of memories well up. We all struggle with word associations and each of us comes up with words. Psychoanalysts are fond of word association games as a door to meaning. Lucien Buck said in his last paper (completed just days ago for presentation at the 56th Annual Convention, International Council of Psychologists, Melbourne, Australia, August 1–5, 1998) … “an individual is healthiest and feels most alive when caught up in projects, or when there are others around with whom he can exchange opinions… the best of both worlds is had by those working with others towards the fulfillment of a shared objective.” Lucien Buck’s death ends a life of sharing with his wife, Beverly, his family, his friends, his colleagues, his patients, his students, and his acquaintances.

Certainly Lucien Buck is associated with words such as: Courage Integrity Professionalism Tenacity Rigor Secular humanism Sensitivity Caring Competence Tolerance Strength Honesty Intellect Passion Honor

Lucien Buck was not in any way a superficial individual; pretense had no place in his life, and being around him was never hard. Especially, if you were patient in hearing him out. In his last paper, he states that… people need to be reminded of their sense of community and their altruistic, empathic capacities… It, therefore, enhances psychological wellness to utilize internal difficulties as an opportunity for growth. Of course, here… the “internal difficulties” referred to cancer and to his coming to terms with death while still growing through the experience.

Lucien and I had time to say our goodbyes over the past few weeks. And, nothing is more saddening than such moments.

GOODBYE to a person who never allowed himself to play the victim and even in illness wrote “The individual can take responsibility for the choices involved in treatment” … and, people can seek to maximize their own efficacy.

GOODBYE to a non-violent warrior when it came to representing others either in union matters, humanitarian causes, or in life. He was a person who wore well the nickname given to him by his colleagues at Dowling College… he was a “bulldog” for justice.

GOODBYE to a healer who stressed that normalcy is not to be necessarily associated with health, and, that abnormal was not a term to denote illness. In fact, from his bed as he was dying, one could see him still using his professional skills to comfort those who came to comfort him.

GOODBYE to a teacher from whom one could learn many things and from one who shared with others when he had learned something from them. At his memorial service, former students from the 1960′s, 1970′s, 1980′s, and 1990′s attended.

GOODBYE to a co-worker who stood as a role model for how being a professional meant always striving for excellence. Always seeking to reach out for challenges.

GOODBYE to a friend, with whom you could disagree vigorously and, yet, still know that debate had not tarnished either your friendship or the mutual respect upon which it was based.

Clearly, Lucien Buck meant different things to different people. Each speaker will struggle to express the connection he or she no longer has. I prefer a different perspective.

I consider myself to have been very fortunate to have had Lucien Buck embrace a patr of my life. He enriched 22 years of my life and I thanked him for that when we shared a goodbye hug. If anything, the hug did not last long enough.

Bob Youth East Patchogue

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