From OSSO to OU

Joan Baxter - Contributing columnist

Lloyd Buck became a resident of the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Home in March 1954. He was at that time in the fifth grade.

Buck was born in West Virginia and the family moved to Ohio. His mother died when he was quite young and his father had served in the armed forces but was unable to provide adequately for the family.

A friend of the family, knowing the financial situation, suggested that it would be well for Buck to move into the OSSO Home where he would have a good education, adequate food and so forth.

The application was made and Buck soon became a student at the home. It was not long before his younger brother also moved into the home.

His teacher stated “Lloyd was the tallest fifth grader I had ever seen. He was a polite boy, worked hard in class and a pleasure to teach.”

That tall fifth grader continued to grow until he reached his adult height of 6-foot-7. It is interesting to note that family history indicates that his grandmother was Cherokee who stood only 5 feet tall.

He was an honor roll student in each of his scholastic years. During his senior year at Woodrow Wilson High School (at the home), he had the highest grade-point average of all the students in the home. He took journalism and wrote for the Home Review. He was an active member of R.O.T.C. and a fine marksman on the rifle range. He also participated with the R.O.T.C. marching in parades carrying a sword at his side or a rifle on his shoulder.

Although he was very good in academics, he also loved sports. He was active on the track as well as playing football and basketball from seventh grade until graduation.

His height gave an advantage on the basketball floor. When he was a sophomore, he played with the varsity team but was never a “starter.” The coach knew what talent Buck possessed and would put him in to play when things looked tough. By this time, he was 6-foot-5 and was able to block shots and get the rebounds to score the points. In one game, he scored 34 points. The team finished the season 18-1.

During his junior year he averaged more than 20 points per game while in his senior year he averaged 26 points per game. He was a Dell All-American Basketball player in 1961. He was named first team All-Ohio as well as all-league and All-Greater Dayton.

He was accepted at West Point and attended part of the 1961 year, then transferred to Ohio University where he was granted a basketball scholarship.

He had played football also when at the home, but basketball was his real love and so by the time he started at Ohio University, he was one of the tallest players on the team, usually playing the position of center. In the 1963-64 season while he played for the Bobcats, the team made it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.

He continued to study and was very good academically. He decided that medicine might be a fitting career for him and studied pre-med. That’s when his life changed again. He met a co-ed whose name was Vi. She graduated the year before he did and began teaching nearby. They decided to get married while he was still in school and he then decided that he wanted to teach and coach basketball for his career.

Of course there were offers to play professionally, but he declined.

He and Vi settled in Painesville where he accepted a position teaching physical education. He also served as assistant basketball coach for the boys team. He was the head basketball coach at Ashtabula for two years. He coached the high school team at Mansfield for four years.

Another major change came when he was encouraged to apply for a position with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Usually a process to become an agent is very lengthy, but he was accepted in just two weeks. Of course, his former teachers and friends were questioned about his grades and abilities as a student. He received rave reviews and became a special agent for the FBI, a career he enjoyed for 13 years. When he accepted the job, he was delighted to find that the salary was going to be double what he was earning as a teacher.

The family lived in several different locations while he pursued his career including Memphis, Tenn.; Augusta, Ga.; Cleveland; and Painesville where he was the senior residence agent.

After several years as an agent, he decided to retire but not completely. He accepted a position with the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office as chief investigator. The prosecutor was pleased to hire someone with his experience and training who could “hit the ground running.”

Having had considerable experience with the FBI, he and Robert Alvord established a private investigating firm known as BASIC Group Ltd.

His children followed in his footsteps, both graduating from Ohio University. His son, also tall, played basketball for the university. A grandson, Nat, is studying to become a doctor while a granddaughter, Katherine, is on the swim team at Cleveland State.

Buck died at the age of 68 from cancer. He was posthumously inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame May 20, 2017, where he was a charter member.

I chatted with his widow and she assured me that Buck was a tall, very handsome man, intelligent with an amazing IQ. She currently volunteers at the Finnish Museum near her home and also teaches the language to those who are eager to learn a new tongue.

Joan Baxter

Contributing columnist

Joan Baxter is a Greene County resident and historian.

Joan Baxter is a Greene County resident and historian.