Roger Leonard Buck was born November 19, 1927, in Mansfield, Massachusetts, to Ralph A. and Fannie E. Buck. Valedictorian of the Class of 1945 at Mansfield High School, Buck attended Boston University before being admitted to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Midshipman Buck played four years on the USNA varsity baseball team under Coach Max Bishop and was the team’s captain his senior year. The day after graduating from the Academy and receiving his commission in the U.S. Navy, Ensign Buck married Muriel C. McCauley on June 3, 1950. While enroute to San Diego and his first assignment as damage control assistant on the USS John R. Craig (DD-885), the Korean War broke out, sending the ship to the war zone.
Captain Buck served 26 years in the Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer and had command of the USS Crow (MSC(0)-7), USS Richard E. Kraus (DD-849), and the USS Harry E. Yarnell (CG-17). He served as Executive Officer on the USS Charles Berry (DE-1035), Weapons Officer on the USS Newport News (CA-148) and Operations Officer on the USS Boston (CAG-1), the world’s first guided missile cruiser. During this assignment, he played an active role in the successful search for the H-bomb lost off Palomares, Spain. Captain Buck’s staff assignments were as Operations and Plans Officer, Commander Cruiser Destroyer Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; and as Chief of Staff, Commander Cruiser Destroyer-Group Two and Commander Destroyer Development Group, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
Then-Lieutenant Buck returned to the U.S. Naval Academy as Company Officer, where he also was the assistant baseball coach. In the early 1960s, he served in the Office of Chief of Naval Operations in the Politico Military Section (OP-61) at the Pentago during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Buck was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, World War II Victory Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal (Asia & Europe), National Defense Service Medal with One Star, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, and Korean Presidential Unit Citation.
Captain Buck holds three degrees: Bachelor of Science from the U.S. Naval Academy, Master of Arts in International Relations from American University in Washington, D.C., and a Master of Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island. His military education includes graduating from the Senior Warfare Course at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
Upon retiring from the U.S. Navy in 1976, Captain Buck taught a Fleet Anti-Air Warfare course at the Naval War College, and a political history course at Roger Williams University.
In 1978, Buck was named Coordinator of the Rhode Island Coastal Energy Impact Program, where he initiated state policies on oil exploration in the North Atlantic fishing grounds and was involved in outer continental shelf oil and gas development. In 1980, Captain Buck was named as the first director of the Governor’s Energy Office. He was responsible for administering the state’s energy conservation, efficiency, and alternative and renewable energy programs. He initiated a program to convert state vehicles to compressed natural gas and was responsible for installing the first wind turbine in Rhode Island on Block Island. Later, Buck was a director of the re-named Governor’s Office of Energy Assistance, where he managed all energy programs affecting business, industry, schools, and hospitals.
After retiring from the State of Rhode Island, Captain Buck served as an energy consultant for the Governor’s Office of Housing, Energy and Intergovernmental Relations, working on special projects, such as District Heating and Cooling, Biomass Energy, Natural Gas Vehicles, and Water Conservation and Renewable Energy Programs.
In 1988, Captain Buck was named Executive Director of The Energy Council of Rhode Island (TEC-RI), a non-profit consortium of the major energy users in Rhode Island. He spearheaded efforts to change energy policy, advocated for fairly priced and environmentally sound electricity for all consumers and a reduction of oil imports by expanded use of natural gas.
During the 1990s, Captain Buck was elected President of the Newport Taxpayers Association, which developed a Blueprint for Responsible Government. He served on the R.I. Greenhouse gas stakeholders group that analyzed cost-effective actions to reduce carbon dioxide in the state. He also served on the “Newport Goes Green” Task Force, charged to create a City Climate Action Plan.
Captain Buck’s love of the game of baseball lasted a lifetime. He has been an active Naval Academy Athletic Association member, participating in alumni games and fundraisers for the USNA baseball program with his son, Bruce (USNA Class of 1977, who was also captain of the Navy baseball team). Captain Buck was instrumental in fundraising for the new Max Bishop Memorial Baseball Stadium at the U.S. Naval Academy, and in the installation of plaques to honor baseball captains under Coach Max Bishop.
As a retiree, Captain Buck was an avid gardener and grew tomatoes and hybrid tea roses, which won first prize in the 2002 Newport Flower Show. He was a member of the Naval War College and Newport Hospital Foundations, the Newport Historical Society, and the Preservation Society of Newport County.
Captain Buck was a communicant at Jesus Saviour Church in Newport, where his wife, Muriel, served as organist for 45 years. Captain Buck’s pride and joy was his family. In addition to Muriel to whom he was married for 71 years, his survivors are their four children and spouses, Brian R. Buck (Lisa) of Bristol, R.I.; Bruce J. Buck (Linda) of Crofton, Maryland; Sheila B. Gibson (Thomas) of Alexandria, Virginia; and Kevin R. Buck (Robyn) of Middletown, R.I.; and six grandchildren, Paul R. Buck (Julie), David B. Buck (Julianne Krous), James F. Gibson, (Abby), Carolyn M. G. Khoury (Michel), Alison W. Buck, and Emily K. Buck, two great grandsons, Malakai S. Buck and Wyatt E. R. Buck, and one great granddaughter, Caelyn K. Buck.
He leaves two sisters, Janet B. Haskell and Christine B. Owens (Larry), two brothers, Richard E. Buck (Meg) and Curtis W. Buck (Rita); as well as Michael and Karin Hill and their children, Sasha, and Trevor; and several cousins, nieces, and nephews. He was pre-deceased by his sister, Louise B. Stupack.
Calling hours will be held, Tuesday, September 28, 2021 from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm in the Memorial Funeral Home, 375 Broadway, Newport, RI.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday at 9:30 am in Jesus Saviour Church, 509 Broadway, Newport, RI. Burial will follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Franklin Street, Mansfield, MA.
On behalf of the family, masks are required for all services, regardless of vaccination status.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Jesus Saviour Church, 1 Vernon Avenue, Newport, RI 02840 or Catholic Charities.
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