Family, friends still miss Buck Hurley every day
By Susan Shinn
Five years after Buck Hurley’s death, his daddy still gets choked up about him.
His friends do, too.
When you lose a child, Gordon Hurley says, “not a day goes by when you don’t think about him.”
Buck packed a lot of living into his 35 years, and for that his parents, Gordon and Carolyn, are grateful.
They have many good memories.
Carolyn recalls how Buck loved to ski, was a voracious reader, how he loved travel and the theater, how he loved words and their origins.
He was immensely proud of his younger brother, and would beam anytime Jeff received academic recognition.
He wanted to attend a school with a good football team.
He graduated from the University of Georgia, and it could not have been a better choice for the shy young man. He made tons of friends there, his dad says.
For years, Buck attended the Masters and the Kentucky Derby with Georgia friends.
“He pretty much covered all the bases as a good friend,” says UGA classmate John Rowan of New Orleans. “He was definitely a confidante of mine. He was just one of those guys who was always there to be a friend.”
The Hurleys received more than 100 letters from those friends and their parents after Buck died.
The letters describe a kindhearted and generous young man of wit and intelligence. A true friend.
“He was loyal to his friends,” Gordon says.
“He had an insane memory,” says Rob Buffaloe of Atlanta, one of Buck’s best friends. “He remembered everything he ever saw in any game. As much as he loved ACC basketball, it’s appropriate that the gymnasium is connected with his name forever.”
Buck made quite an impression on people, Rob adds. “He was a different guy. He had a good sense of humor and a way with words. People who met him never forgot him.”
He loved to come home to recharge, his dad says. He’d spend hours reading. In 2002, he became fascinated with the drought, and he always visited High Rock Lake when he was home.
Ironically, Gordon says, on the day of his funeral, there was a torrential rainstorm.
Buck developed osteosarcoma in his right knee, eventually having to have the bone removed.
“He didn’t want to lose his leg,” Gordon says.
His surgeon was able to save it, with a knee replacment and rods.
He endured a grueling regimen of chemotherapy ó 24 hours a day for five days every three weeks. Ultimately, he chose to stop treatment after having several infections. He weight fell from 160 to 130 pounds.
While he was taking his own treatment, seeing children with cancer upset Buck, Rob says. “He said, ‘Buffaloe, I would give my life if it meant some of these kids were healed.’ ”
His friends didn’t want to lose him, John says, but accepted the fact he didn’t want to live life with limits.
After his surgery, he only walked with a slight limp, and was able to enjoy fishing and hunting after giving up skiing.
“He had a short but good life,” Gordon says, his voice breaking. “He did a lot of living in those years. He was a wonderful son and a very good person. We were truly blessed to have him 35 years.”John’s voice breaks, too, as he talks of the joy Buck drew from being the godfather to his son Jack, now 10.
“Now my son believes that Buck in his guardian angel,” John says.
He adds, “The most important part to me was that he was part of my family. It wasn’t enough time, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
It’s hard to go on without him, Gordon says, but “you find out that you can do anything you have to do.”
Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or firstname.lastname@example.org.