Dr. Bill A. Buckelew passed on to see the glory of the Lord Saturday, February 8, 2020, at the age of 80. He was a resident of Fort Walton Beach, Florida for 51 years.
Dr. B was born in Calvert City, Kentucky on September 1, 1939 and grew up with his best friend and younger brother, Robert, in Sipsey, Alabama. "Billy" Buckelew was an avid 4-H'er. He received top honors by being selected to go to the 4-H National Convention in Chicago, Illinois, a big deal for a country kid from north Alabama - something of which he was always proud. Upon graduating from Walker County High School, he attended Jones County Junior College in Mississippi on a football scholarship, majoring in Chemical Engineering. He then worked his way through Auburn University majoring Pre-Med. While at Auburn and as a member of the Baptist Student Union, at an off-campus retreat at Shocco Springs in Talladega, the future "Dr. B" met the future "Miss Jane" who would become the love of his life, lifelong helpmate, and ministry partner. They married June 22,1963.
Dr. Buckelew graduated from Auburn in 1961 and entered University of Alabama Medical School in Birmingham, Alabama, where he solidified his role as a lifelong Auburn man. During medical school, Dr. Buckelew entered the Navy medical ranks where he did an externship in Jacksonville, Florida, and an internship in San Diego, California at the prestigious Balboa Naval Hospital. He went on to become a flight surgeon at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. Dr. Buckelew quickly became a favorite flight surgeon among pilots including the elite Blue Angels Pilots, many of them continuing to come see him decades past his Naval retirement. Dr. Buckelew was also hand selected to be on the Navy's Special Medical Evaluation Board, where, even as the junior officer, he was recognized and respected as an excellent diagnostician. This is a recognition and gift that would follow him the rest of his medical career. Upon leaving the Navy, the Buckelew's moved to Fort Walton Beach, Florida in 1969. Providentially, Dr. Buckelew joined the partnership in Magnolia Medical Clinic, where he remained for the rest of his 48-year medical career.
One of Dr. B's greatest passions was serving his community and friends as a caring Christian family doctor. In the role of a family doctor, Dr. B counseled, diagnosed, cured, ministered to, celebrated and mourned with many families throughout the years. One of his notable joys was when he began to deliver babies of those babies that he had delivered.
Dr. B and his family have been passionate and active members, ministers, and servants of the family of First Baptist Church, as well as the community of Fort Walton Beach since first arriving. Dr. B is still remembered for teaching 9th grade boys in Sunday school in his early years, but is mostly known for actively leading and facilitating Married Adult 4 (MA-04) Sunday school group for nearly fifty years.
Dr. B was the owner and founder of Rocking B-A-B Ranch in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. He created the logo from his initials while in 3rd grade. Through the farm and in concert with MA-04 Sunday school class, Dr. B and Miss Jane helped facilitate the origins of the “Live Nativity” at First Baptist Church, which has become a beloved event and ministry to the greater Gulf Coast community during Christmas, attracting thousands annually.
Using Rocking B-A-B Ranch, Dr. Buckelew and MA-04 started "Farm Day" more than three decades ago as a family outing and pot-luck event in early November. Farm Day has grown to be a powerful ministering tool to the community at large in Fort Walton Beach and DeFuniak Springs, attracting thousands of people each year. The free event has been used by churches to minister as ambassadors of Christ's love to families who come so "That the World May Know" - which is the slogan of Farm Day. Dr. B spent much of his energy and passion serving the community he loved "So that world may know ... who Jesus is."
He passionately loved his Savior, his family, his church, his community, and his country. His ever-current political passion was to encourage everyone to VOTE in every election. He strongly believed that every Christian has the privilege and duty to be proactive in securing the freedoms enjoyed by all in our beautiful country.
Dr. Buckelew (Dr. B/ Buckelew/ Bill/ Granddaddy/ G-doc) is deeply loved and will be sorely missed. There is no doubt that he entered Heaven hearing words from his Savior, "Well done, my good and faithful servant!"
Dr. Buckelew is preceded in death by his father, Ansel Allen Buckelew and his mother, Kathleen Argo Buckelew. He is survived by his wife, Jane St. John Buckelew; daughter and son-in-law, Peaches and Douglas Fink (Lacie and Stefan Rabenhorst, Benjamin, Jacob, and Alissa); son and daughter-in-law, Brian and Denise Buckelew (Bodie and Linlea); his beloved brother, Robert "Bob" and Paula Buckelew (Brook and Shana Buckelew). He is also survived by many nieces and nephews, grand nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, as well as other honorary "adopted" children and grandchildren.
Both visitations will be held at First Baptist Church, 21 First Street, Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The FIRST visitation will be Friday evening, February 14, 2020 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. The SECOND visitation will begin Saturday, February 15, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. with the Celebration of Life service following at 2:00 pm.
Burial will be at Brooks Memorial Cemetery. A private family reunion will follow services.
In lieu of flowers, please honor Dr. Buckelew with your donations to either First Baptist Church Missions Fund “Missions (General)” https://app.easytithe.com/App/Giving/fbcfwb or Gideon International https://www.gideons.org/donate.
Please visit www.daviswatkins.com to sign the guestbook, express condolences, and share memories.
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