We lost Grandpa Buck on Monday. Nobody saw this coming, so we’re still in complete shock. He passed away in the morning after having his morning coffee. He and my grandma have been married for nearly 51 years. Unless he was working, it would probably only take one hand for me to count the number of times I saw them separated in my entire life. They’ve set the bar very high for a devoted marriage, and it’s a bar Justin and I strive to equal every day.
Grandpa was a fantastic grandpa. Everyone says that about their grandpa, and I’m sure everyone means it, but I always feel like people only say that because they didn’t experience a childhood with a grandpa like mine. He made me feel like I was the center of his world, even though he had an eye on the races in the background. He took me to work with him when I was a kid and let me put my milk in a coffee cup like the other guys. As one of the few men in a family of very lively women, he learned early to make his words few but meaningful. He would sit back in his chair, watching the scene unfold, and eventually lean forward and utter a single sentence that would put everyone in their place. That single sentence would, of course, contain at least one curse word. People like to use the phrase “curse like a sailor”, but, again, that’s just because they never met my grandpa. If they had, they’d surely say “curse like Buck” instead. He had a way with those words that rivaled George Carlin. He’s the only man I know who can make complete sentences out of curse words. Even now, when I’m trying to fix something on the car or around the house, I let loose a long string of curse words and smile and think I should call Grandpa. I got the “fix-it” bug from him. He loved fixing things. Grandma says it’s because they never had any money, but I truly think it was a source of pride for him. Give him a little duct tape, maybe a quick solder, and, it might not be pretty, but it’d be functional. He had a colorful word for that type of fix.
You know, I had every intention of just copying and pasting his obituary here and posting a few pictures, but it’s impossible to stop talking about him. I could just keep going. But I need to move on to homework while I have the opportunity, because apparently grad school professors do not take a deceased grandpa as a reason for an extension. And it also turns out that it’s absolutely impossible to concentrate on community economics in the same room as my ENTIRE family. Know the scenes from Christmas Vacation that are full of chaos and colorful characters? It’s like that, except add screaming children. It’s pretty great (and that isn’t a sarcastic comment). We’re just missing the patriarch character sitting at the head of the table, silently taking it all in.
Allen “Buck” Ray Sangwin was born April 19, 1940 in Council Grove, Kansas to William “Bud” Sangwin and Iva “Kate” Carr Sangwin. He passed away February 10, 2014 at his home in White City, Kansas. Buck grew up in White City with his sisters, Mary Sangwin Smith, Gloria Sangwin Hultgren, Gaila Sangwin Sanford, and Debbie Sangwin Sanford. He attended the White City school system and graduated in 1958. He enjoyed playing football and track. Following graduation, he worked in construction and at the IGA and Gambles in Herington, Kansas.
Buck and Joyce Nienstedt met while Buck was working in Herington. Their relationship can be described as “love at first sight” and they were rarely seen without one another for the rest of their lives. Their first date was December 18, 1960 and they were married on May 27, 1961. Buck enjoyed “picking” at Joyce but loved making her happy even more. Early in their married life, Buck fulfilled a lifelong dream of Joyce’s by purchasing a horse. His phrase of “when I say ‘whoa’ I mean ‘whoa’!” resulted from trying to work with that horse. Buck and Joyce spent their early married life in White City, Herington, Abilene, Antelope, Marion, and Emporia before returning to White City in 1970. They had three children in this time, Allen Ray Sangwin Jr., Michele “Shelly” Renee Sangwin, and Christl Ann Sangwin. Buck owned and operated the Sangwin Standard station for eight years before beginning work for the White City School. After two years, he left for construction and mechanic work for five years before coming back to work for the City of White City as the Chief of Maintenance for fourteen years. In 2000, he returned to the White City School for two years, then retired to spend time with Joyce and his family in 2002. He and Joyce also owned and operated BJ Tree Shearing for many years. He was honored by White City for his 26 years as a volunteer fireman.
Buck enjoyed spending time with his large family, dogs, and many friends. He and Joyce enjoyed going for walks to get coffee and the mail, watching car races or truck and tractor pulls, going to farm shows, camping, and their annual trips to the state fair are a fond memory of their grandchildren. Buck and Joyce rarely missed a school or sports event. Buck taught most of his grandchildren how to drive on the tree shearing Mule, resulting in driving habits that continue today. Buck’s life and work in White City has resulted in a plethora of memories shared by the entire community. All residents remember him waving from the city trucks and many former White City students will always remember his hearty laugh. All of his grandchildren considered it an honor to be chosen as the passenger on the annual parade tractor (and many family arguments are still ensuing). He knew everybody’s name and was never at a loss for words or something to discuss. He will be fondly remembered for his ornery attitude and the “sparkle in his eye” that meant a joke was forthcoming.
Buck is survived by his wife, Joyce; his three children, Allen and Kelly Sangwin of Falcon, Colorado; Shelly Cunningham of White City, Kansas; and Christl and Doug Williams of Wilsey, Kansas; his eight grandchildren, Miranda and Justin Metcalf; Brooke, Teri, and Kaylee Cunningham; Madison and Jeremy Williams; and Tony and Tritt Sangwin; one great-grandchild, Mitchell Metcalf and one upcoming great-granchild, Baby Hirt; his sisters, Mary and Royal Smith of Marion, Kansas; Gloria Hultgren of Osage City, Kansas; Bob and Gaila Sanford of White City, Kansas; and Don and Debbie Sanford of White City, Kansas. Additionally, he has many nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and –nephews. Buck joins his dogs, parents, parents-in-law, and grandchild, Kelsey Cunningham, in death.
Visitation will be held on Sunday, February 16 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM at the White City Methodist Church Fellowship Hall. The memorial service will be held on Monday, February 17 at 10:00 AM at the White City Methodist Church.
Memorial contributions may be given to the Buck Sangwin Memorial at Central National Bank, P.O. Box 158 in White City, KS, 66872 and will be donated in Buck’s memory at a future date.