Centreville Marguerite Buckley lived a long, full life — but that doesn’t mean her family was ready to say goodbye to her when she died Jan. 8, at age 94.
“Everybody took it pretty hard, especially the grandchildren,” said daughter-in-law Kathy Buckley. “I don’t think it’s sunk in, yet, for me. When it’s time to visit, that’s when it hits you.”
Although she was a Centreville resident for decades, in recent years Marguerite lived in the Fairmont, a retirement community in Manassas. She was in relatively good health and, said Kathy Buckley, “She had a driver’s license until her mid-80s — and she fought us about relinquishing it.”
But she fell in her apartment, developed pneumonia while undergoing physical therapy, was hospitalized and didn’t respond to the medication. “It was pretty quick,” said Buckley. “Her funeral was Jan. 15; she was buried at Stonewall Memory Gardens in Manassas, next to her husband, who died in 1992. It’s been an emotional time for the whole family.”
When Marguerite Sours Buckley celebrated her 90th birthday in November 2008, joining her were nearly 75 relatives and friends at the Centreville Volunteer Fire Department. The location was especially fitting because her late husband Woody joined the department shortly after it began in early 1950, and she was a charter member of its Woman’s Auxiliary.
They married on April 16, 1938. Woody served in the Navy during WWII and, when he returned, he built a house for them on Braddock Road in the late 1940s. "When we moved there, Braddock Road wasn’t open in the western end," said Buckley at her party. "We attended the Old Stone Church and had to go to Shirley Gate Road and Fairfax to get there."
The Buckleys had four children; daughter Betty died, but sons Buddy and wife Shirley, and Jim and wife Kathy, still live in Centreville (in Country Club Manor and Newgate Forest, respectively). Son Joe lives in Woodbridge. Woody died of cancer in 1992, but Marguerite had lots of family around, including nine grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.
Jim’s wife Kathy, administrative aide to Sully District Supervisor Michael Frey, said her husband traced his family’s genealogy and discovered that the Buckleys have lived in the Centreville area since the Revolutionary War. In fact, the land on which the Buckley’s Reserve community was built once belonged to the family.
Centreville’s Volunteer Fire Department (Station 17 on Old Centreville Road) played a major role in the Buckleys’ lives. In the 1950s and early ‘60s, the center of the community was the firehouse, Hunter Hardware and a pharmacy where Alto Plaza now stands.
Woody and Marguerite worked Bingo at Station 17 twice a week for at least 35 years. He called numbers and she helped out in the kitchen with the food. “She and my father-in-law, Woody, were a very special pair,” said Kathy Buckley. “Their devotion to each other was apparent to everyone who knew them.”
Marguerite also volunteered at Centreville United Methodist Church, helped at the polls on election days and belonged to the Centreville Elementary PTA when the school was in the building where Mountain View High School is now. She also helped organize Inova Fairfax Hospital’s auxiliary and volunteered there, too.
“I will always remember Marguerite for her love of volunteering, her love of family and her special holiday dinners,” said Kathy Buckley. “Every year she looked forward to the annual Sours family reunion with her sisters, brothers and their families.”
And they looked forward to her potato salad. “She always told me leaving the jackets on the potatoes was the key to successful potato salad,” said granddaughter Jennifer Spencer. “I’m now asked to bring my potato salad to every function I attend, and it’s a hit.”
But more importantly, she said, “I will always remember Grandma for her smile, no matter what was happening around her or to her. And she had such strength to deal with the loss of her husband and daughter.”
Spencer recalled spending weekends as a child at her grandmother’s home, the radio on top of the refrigerator playing nonstop, and their trips to Glen Echo, Md., for lottery tickets. And, she added, “I remember our Saturdays at the fire station, working in the kitchen and playing Bingo.”
Holidays also remind her of her grandmother. “I remember her working tirelessly to prepare Christmas and Easter dinners,” said Spencer. “All of us somehow fit into Grandma’s living room, sitting on the stairs and on each other’s laps as we opened our gifts. I never knew until I became a mother and a grandmother what the traditions that Grandma set in place would mean to me.”
And each year as Spencer shopped for Easter dinner, she’d call her grandmother “to ask exactly what I needed to fix the country ham. She was delighted to get that call from me; I could hear the delight in her soft voice. And it was never just, ‘I love you;’ it was, ‘I love you very, very much.’ My life was changed because of the grandmother God gave me, and my life will forever be changed because of her loss.”
Even after Buckley moved to the Fairmont, she remained active. Outspoken and mentally sharp, she ran Bingo games there, too, and even received a volunteer award. “Marguerite also loved nurturing plants and flowers and collecting owls,” said Kathy Buckley. “She had a scooter chair and was able to get around. She was pretty spry; to be 94 and still independent, that’s saying a lot. She will be missed every day.”