Willis John Buckingham, 77, passed away Feb. 28, 2016. He was born on July 14, 1938, in Bismarck, North Dakota, to Dr. Tracy Willis Buckingham and Pauline Lorraine Buckingham (nee Bohlig).
Will was a professor of American literature in the English department of Arizona State University from 1969 to 2000. After graduating from Bismarck High School, he attended Harvard College where he lived at Adams House and graduated with honors in English with the Class of 1960. Will, then, studied at Union Seminary in NYC, obtained a master's degree in English at University of Wisconsin Madison, and completed his Ph.D. in English at University of Indiana Bloomington. His scholarly interests include 19th century American poetry, and his publications include an annotated bibliography of Emily Dickinson as well as a documentary history of her reception in the 1890s.
Beloved by his colleagues and students, Will was the gentlest and most sensitive of scholars. He was a curious traveler, a historian, and an epicurean, with a joyous way of savoring life's every detail. He was also an avid member of the Great Books discussion group of Tempe. He brought altruism and benevolence to all those he encountered in life.
His sister, Jane Pfeifer; his daughter, Jocelyn Unger; his son, David Buckingham; and his former wife and lifelong friend, Debra Buckingham, survive him.
A celebration of his life was held Saturday, March 5, at the University Club at ASU, 425 E. University Drive, Tempe, Ariz. 85281.
Donations in his honor can be made to the ASU Foundation Willis Buckingham Memorial Fund at www.asufoundation.org/WillisBuckinghamMemorial. Proceeds will support the Hayden Library and English Department at ASU.
The Bismark Tribune - March 6, 2016