Funeral for Walter Buckel, 92, former Lamesa newspaper publisher, is 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, at the Lamesa Church of Christ with Mark Hackett officiating. Burial will follow at Lamesa Memorial Park. Visitation is 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, at Branon Funeral Home in Lamesa.
Buckel died Wednesday, Nov. 27, at his home in Lubbock. He’s the father of Messenger Editorial Director Bob Buckel.
Walter was born Nov. 22, 1921, in the Imperial Valley of Southern California, the son of Fred and Irene (Huth) Buckel.
Leaving school during his senior year at Holtville, Calif., he began playing minor league baseball in California, Kansas and Nebraska. He came to Lamesa in 1941 and signed a contract to play for the Lamesa Lobos of the West Texas/New Mexico League.
Buckel served as a radio operator with the U.S. Army Air Corps in North Africa during World War II.
After the war, he resumed playing baseball and married Rubye Neile Mitchell March 3, 1947, in Montgomery, Ala. They decided to make Lamesa their permanent home after he returned to play baseball there in 1947.
He served as business manager of the Lamesa Baseball Club and then as cafeteria and transportation director for the Lamesa Independent School District. He was elected Dawson County Clerk and served four-and-a-half years before resigning in 1957 to enter the insurance business.
In 1960, he was named manager of KPET radio station and held that position until 1967, when he purchased the Dawson County Free Press, a weekly newspaper in Lamesa. The following year he joined with James Roberts of Andrews to purchase the Lamesa Reporter and merged the two publications to form the Lamesa Press-Reporter. He served as publisher of the Press-Reporter until 1991 and as president of the newspaper and of his sister company, South Plains Printing, until 1993. He remained on the boards of the two companies until earlier this year and held the title of publisher emeritus.
Buckel was a part owner and board member of about a dozen other newspapers across Texas. He served as president of the West Texas Press Association (WTPA) in 1982-83 and as president of the Texas Press Association (TPA) in 1985-86. He was the first recipient of the prestigious Harold Hudson Award from WTPA and was inducted into the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2008.
Buckel served in numerous leadership roles in Lamesa. He was the founder of the Lamesa Little League and a past president of the Lamesa Kiwanis Club, Lamesa Area Chamber of Commerce, Lamesa Industrial Foundation, Dawson County United Way and Dawson County Museum Board. He also was a former member of the Lamesa school board.
He helped raise well over a million dollars for local causes by heading fundraising efforts for the Lamesa campus of Howard College, creation of the Dal Paso Museum, establishment of the state prison in Lamesa and relocation of the Senior Citizens Center.
Buckel was a longtime member of the Lamesa Church of Christ, where he served as an elder for 26 years.
A scholarship established in 1999 in honor of Walter and Rubye Buckel is awarded annually to a graduating senior from Lamesa High School.
The Buckels moved to Lubbock in 2010.
Buckel is survived by his wife, Rubye Buckel of Lubbock; children Barbara Buckel of Lubbock and Bob Buckel and wife, Krisan, of Azle; grandchildren Kara Rodriguez and husband, Bryan, of Fort Worth, Katie Buckel of Fort Worth, Alex Buckel of Abilene and Moses Lukeri of Edmond, Okla.; and niece Eileen Buckel of Green Valley, Ariz. He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Raymond and Fred Jr.; and sister Dorothy.
Memorials may be made to Dal Paso Museum 125 N. Main St., Lamesa, TX, 79331, Rubye and Walter Buckel Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 790, Lamesa, TX, 79331, Children’s Home of Lubbock, P.O. Box 2824, Lubbock, TX, 79408, or Sunset International Bible Institute, 3723 34th St., Lubbock, TX, 79410.
To send condolences online, visit www.branonfuneralhome.com.