William Frank Buckley, Jr., Author and Commentator, Died at 82

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Dead, William Frank Buckley, Jr. on February 27, 2008 at the age of 82, he was an American conservative author and commentator.

Born November 24, 1925, in New York City to lawyer and oil developer William Frank Buckley, Sr., of Irish ancestry, and Aloise Josephine Antonia Steiner, a New Orleans native of Swiss-German, and some Irish, origins.

The sixth of ten children, Buckley moved as a boy with his family from Mexico to Sharon, Connecticut, before beginning his formal schooling in Paris, where he attended first grade.

By age seven, he received his first formal training in English at a day school in London; his first and second languages were Spanish and French. As a boy, Buckley developed a love for music, sailing, horses, hunting, skiing, and story-telling.

All of these interests would be reflected in his later writings. Just before World War II, at age 13, he attended high school at the Catholic preparatory school Beaumont College in England. \

In 1950, Buckley married Patricia Aldyen Austin “Pat” Taylor (1926–2007), daughter of Canadian industrialist Austin C. Taylor. He met Pat, a Protestant from Vancouver, British Columbia, while she was a student at Vassar College.

She later became a prominent fundraiser for such charitable organizations as the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery at New York University Medical Center and the Hospital for Special Surgery.

She also raised money for Vietnam War veterans and AIDS patients. On April 15, 2007, she died of an infection after a long illness at age 80. After her death, Buckley seemed “dejected and rudderless,” according to friend Christopher Little.

In his 1997 book Nearer, My God, he condemned what he viewed as “the Supreme Court’s war against religion in the public school,” and argued that Christian faith was being replaced by “another God … multiculturalism.” As an adult, Buckley regularly attended the traditional Latin Mass in Connecticut.

He disapproved of the liturgical reforms following the Second Vatican Council. Buckley also revealed an interest in the writings and revelations of the 20th Century Italian writer Maria Valtorta.

In his spiritual memoir Buckley reproduced Valtorta’s detailed accounts of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, which were based on Valtorta’s visionary experiences of Christ and the mystical revelations she reported experiencing between the years 1943–47, being shown Jesus’ life in 1st-century Palestine and recording the visions in her book The Poem of the Man-God.

The magazine, columns and TV show all made Buckley’s intellectual political writings famous. His personal charm, dash, wit and energy defied the traditional image of a conservative.

Many credit him for popularizing conservatism in post-New Deal America, as he deftly defended its values against attacks from liberal intellectuals such as Gore Vidal.

The conservative hero returned to the headlines in 2015 with the release of Best of Enemies, a documentary about the famed televised debates between Buckley and Vidal during the summer of 1968.

 

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