Vet of year for 2013 maintains memorial

A Tiffin man who served in the Marines and was the mastermind behind Junior Home Memorial Park has been named veteran of the year by the Seneca County Veterans Service Commission.

A. Joseph Buckley, 89, is to receive the award Saturday evening at the Tiffin Veteran’s Day dinner. The event is to be hosted at the VFW.

“I’m very, very honored and very surprised,” Buckley said.

Buckley said he is not active in any veteran’s groups, but takes pride in maintaining the Junior Home Memorial Park, located at Huss Street and Riverside Drive.

In 1984, Buckley proposed the war memorial for the 74 Home boys who died in World War I and World War II. In 1985, the memorial was built. Buckley, who grew up at the Junior Home, now spends time each day at the park to maintain it.

“By honoring the people we honor out there, I feel it’s a contribution to my background as a veteran,” Buckley said.

Tara Balliet, assistant director of the Seneca County Veterans Service Office, said Buckley was selected by the commission, a five-member board, in part because of his dedication to the memorial.

According to information provided by the commission, Buckley served in the Marine Corps from 1943-46.

In 1946, he married his wife, Joanna, and then attended Heidelberg College. In 1949, he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree. During his working career, Buckley worked for two northern Ohio newspapers, served on Tiffin City Council, and operated a restaurant franchise for 10 years.

In May, he was inducted into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.

“It was a great experience,” he said of the induction. “This is just as important because it’s local.”

Buckley, an active member of St. Mary’s Church, said he is excited to receive the award Saturday evening.

“It makes me feel very humble,” he said. “It thrills me beyond description.”