Submitted by: Dan Rich


William E. Bucklin III

Mar. 4, 1912 – Mar 13, 1992


The Elkhart Truth
Saturday, March 14, 1992

ELKHART - Herbert E. Bucklin III, the former president of Durakool, Inc. whose family name graced two former Elkhart landmarks, the Bucklen Opera House and the Hotel Bucklen, died Friday morning after a brief illness. He was 80.

Mr. Bucklen was the grandson of Herbert E. Bucklen, who rose from a drugstore clerk to a multimillionaire in patent medicine and real estate. He bestowed his hometown with its "first real opera house" in 1884 and in the same decade renovated and renamed the city's fourth hotel, the former Clifton House.

But Herbert E. Bucklin III assumed the helm of the company founded in 1935 by his father, Herbert E. Bucklin II. Durakool was a maker of switches and relays.

"He took the family company and built it up to be quite successful," said his friend William F. Martin, who nevertheless remembers Mr. Bucklen as "a family man, devoted to his children."

"Herb was great on family traditions," said Martin, describing the growth of the Bucklen Family Picnic on the Redfield-Bucklen Farm from 9 couples to about 150 people. "He looked after a lot of people in addition to his own family. He was very generous that way."

"He was a gentle man and a gentleman," said Frank Parmater Sr., who knew him since the two began attending school together at age six. "He was a shrewd guy, a smart guy. I used to call him "bucks" because he saved his money."

Mr. Bucklen also served on the board of directors for two local banks.

"The community has lost a very good, solid citizen," said neighbor John F. Dille Jr., chairman of The Elkhart Truth. "He was in a long line of early settlers in the community."

Mr. Bucklen, of 2 Holly Lane, died at 9:30 a.m. Friday (March 13, 1992) at home after a brief illness. A life resident of Elkhart, he served as president of Durakool Inc. until his retirement in 1977.

In addition to the Bucklen Opera House and Hotel Bucklen, his grandfather was responsible for the development and construction of a number of noted landmarks in Elkhart, including the Century Club and the Valley Line, an inter-urban railroad that stretched along East Jackson beyond Bristol to a terminal in Columbus, Ohio. His great-grandfather, George Redfield, was a pioneer of southern Michigan who homesteaded the Redfield Farm beginning in 1835 and became the first treasurer for the State of Michigan. The farm in Cass County is still owned by the Bucklen family and has a historical designation from the Michigan Historical Society.

Mr. Bucklen was born March 4, 1912, in Elkhart. He married Elizabeth Blair on Aug. 14, 1937, in Mishawaka. She survives with one daughter, Mrs. Robert P. (Anne) Johnson of Danville, Calif.; one son, George B. of Elkhart; and five grandchildren, Kristen and Jeffrey Miller of Danville, Calif., and Bryan, Betsy and Dale Bucklen, all of Elkhart. One grandson, George "Danny" M. Bucklen, one brother, Robert, and one sister, Jane, are deceased.

A 1930 graduate of Elkhart High School, Mr. Bucklen attended Purdue University and the University of Illinois. He was a charter member of Elcona Country Club and the Elcona Curling Club, a past member of Rotary International and a director emeritus of Ameritrust of Elkhart. He also was a member of the Signal Point Club in Niles and of St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church, whose native fieldstone came from the Bucklen-Redfield Farm.

Friends may call from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday at Hartzler-Gutermuth Funeral Home. The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Monday at St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church. The Rev. Richard Kallenburg will officiate. The body will be cremated. Burial will be at a later date at the family's Redfield-Bucklen Farm Cemetery.

Memorials may be given to United Cancer Services of Elkhart County, the Northern Indiana Historical Society Foundation of South Bend, or the charity of one's choice.