Defining dedication… Buckles made life about others and not himself

Published 2:47 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2020

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Singing is easy when nobody’s listening.  Not so easy, however, for a
teenaged girl readying to sing before hundreds of people.
Ask Heather Williams. Her daughter, Abby, was a bundle of nerves as
she climbed the steps adjacent to the concession stand on her way up
to the broadcast booth.
In just a few minutes she was to present her very own
rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” – a most-difficult song to
master under the best of circumstances.

When the Public Address announcer saw the nervous teen he immediately
sprang to action, just as he had done so many times before, before
facing crowds of hundreds to thousands in just as many locations as a
keynote speaker.
Just as when he played football all those years ago for the home team
– those beloved Unaka Rangers.

Such events call for courage, the kind of courage Doug Buckles had
summoned in the late-1950s when he swore an oath to the United States
Air Force, pledging to put his country above all selfish considerations.

Standing before a crowd, small or large, can unnerve the most tested and
acclaimed singers, dancers, public speakers, etc.
Overcoming such fear requires preparedness and dedication of the highest
order, such as when Buckles vowed to faithfully love and cherish his gorgeous
wife of fifty-eight years – Carolyn Perrett Buckles.
Doug defines dedication.

And steadfastness, such as required to somehow raise sons, Chad and
Wayne, and the stunning, apple of his eye – Leigh Anne Buckles Rowe.
So, what could a simple PAA possibly do to help a young, trembling teen
through such an overwhelming ordeal?

“Come here, honey. I want you to take this microphone, turn and face
that mountain and just let go, and that beautiful voice of yours will
travel all the way up and down Stoney Creek.”

Abby nailed it! And, Doug was the first in the hug line. “That was so
beautiful, honey.”

In our current “All About Me” society, most fans have forgotten, or
simply do not know that the duties of the PAA are limited to announcing
the essential actions of the game – who scored the basket, not how many
baskets the player has scored, who is at the free-throw line, not how
many fouls the defender has committed, who made the tackle or touchdown,
not the quantity of each, and so on.
It’s about the game, never about the individual.
And certainly, not about the Public Address Announcer.

Most important is the “good sportsmanship” or game etiquette
It goes without saying then that the PAA should never “participate” as a
home-team cheerleader.
For instance, it is not the job of the announcer to lead a pep rally or plead
for “more noise” from the fans. Not at the high school level.

Buckles, an innately humble man, needed no reminding.
As legendary as he is, Doug never made the game about himself.  In fact,
his first order of business on game nights was to warmly welcome the visiting
team to Unaka’s Goddard Field.
Then there were the terms of interest to first-timers.
“Folks, we’re more or less facing Stoney Creek as she meanders from your left
to your right,” Buckles would say. “So, if you hear ‘up the Creek,’ well, that’s to
your left and if you hear ‘down the Creek,’ well, Ladies and gentlemen, that’s to
your right.”
There are several other homespun phrases associated with Doug’s announcements,
each delivered with folksy humor and in good taste.

“Doug was very dependable over many years and as everyone knows had a unique
style while doing PA.
Up the creek, down the creek describing kickoffs, and a bad wreck when describing
a hard hit.
High schools are fortunate to have a handful of dedicated people that are always
available that you can count on and Doug was one of those folks at UHS.
As a coach, having folks like this that you can count on is such a blessing. Doug put
his personal spin on UHS culture and that is what made him special.
“I cannot thank him enough for his contribution to my school,” said former Principal
and Coach Mickey Taylor.

Hampton football standout Tim Andrews said, “My Junior year we were playing on the
Creek and I scored on the first play from scrimmage, an 80-yard Touchdown.”
Doug announced, “Tim Andrews has scored before you got your hotdog out of the wrapper.
I will never forget that as long as I live.”
After graduating high school, serving in the military, and starting a family, Buckles would
became a firefighter – a career choice that would ultimately make him Chief of the Johnson City
Fire Department, an achievement of which could lead anyone to boast.
But if you’re more of a self-denying, team-first type, you immediately devise a means of
deflecting attention.
So Doug became the self-proclaimed “FFC” – Fat Fire Chief.
Word would inevitably get out that ole Doug could tell a story, so he became a “must get” for
a large variety of public functions.
He took on further responsibilities such as Election Commission and then Carter County Chairman
and as such committees are occasionally summoned for state-wide seminars.
Buckles was often the obvious choice as the keynote speaker. And hilarity inevitably ensued.
Coordinator for Elections for the State of Tennessee, Mark Goins said that “If Commissioner
Buckles couldn’t make you laugh, well your battery’s dead. I truly appreciate the contributions
Doug made as Election Commissioner.”
Tracy Tanner said, “He spoke at a couple of our seminars with all 95 counties across Tennessee
and everyone listening and in attendance were laughing and in tears when he spoke.
“He was asked to lead the prayer at one of East Tennessee’s conference, so he had a serious side too.
“He is a jolly soul and you could feel it with just being around him.
“He always made some of our three-hour-long meetings, bearable with his humor.”

With so much of which to boast, Buckles most treasured memories are of his times spent with
local kids while helping pioneer the Stoney Creek Youth Sports Club, which required near-countless
hours, and lots of his own money just so the kids could play in “real uniforms.”

“You meet a lot of friends throughout your lifetime but not many are friends for life,” said Ronnie Hicks
who was a former Coach and Athletic Director about Doug Buckles.
“We became friends at a cakewalk or a turkey shoot when I was at Unaka Elementary. We started a fishing
trip that went on till we were too old to go anymore and the memories we made together are the special
things in life.
“Doug taught me to enjoy life and not to take everything so serious,” Hicks reflected.

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