Cornelius D. Buckley
Adoring Husband, Father and Grandfather
October 7, 1934 – April 24, 2023
Cornelius (Neil) Dominick Buckley, 88, of Chatham, NJ, passed away peacefully on April 24, 2023. Born to Christina and John in Cork City, Ireland, Neil was the last surviving sibling of six children. He was married to the love of his life, Eileen, for 58 years, living the past 51 of those years in Chatham, NJ, where they raised their four daughters. Neil is now joyfully reunited with his eldest daughter, Mary, and is survived by his wife, Eileen O’Donnell Buckley, his three cherished daughters, Cathleen Buckley Aufiero (Tony), Anne Buckley Feldman (Mike) and Noreen Wolfe (Joe), and his three beloved grandchildren, Evan, Ryan and Lucy.
Neil bravely left Ireland for the United States in his early 20s, settling in Newark, NJ, where his uncle lived. He served proudly in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Neil went on to attend Iona College in New Rochelle, NY, at the time run by the Christian Brothers, with the thought of becoming a monk. Lucky for us all, Neil quickly learned that he enjoyed talking too much to settle into the monk life. Instead, he looked forward to his annual silent men’s weekend retreat at Loyola Jesuit Center in Morristown, NJ, during which he received great spiritual replenishment.
Neil met his wife, Eileen, also from Ireland, at McGovern’s bar in Newark, NJ, which remains open to this day. As Neil tells the story, he asked Eileen to dance that first night and was instantly charmed. When he asked what she was doing that coming Friday night, in pure Irish fashion Eileen replied, “I can’t think that far ahead”. And Neil was hooked.
Neil was a man of deep faith. He was an active parishioner at St. Patrick’s Church in Chatham and was a long-standing member of the Knights of Columbus. He participated in many parish activities including volunteer mission trips to help the less fortunate in Appalachia, arranging Christmas parties for Greystone Park Hospital, and helping to organize (and enthusiastically participating in) the annual Irish Night to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Neil spent most of his career with Engelhard Corporation in NJ, managing its printing department which handled the company’s many publications. He went on to work with the American Red Cross in Madison, NJ, for many years, providing people in need with transportation, a job in which he excelled given his gifts of patience, humor and compassion. He also enjoyed having a captive audience to whom he could tell his many stories.
Neil was a skilled soccer player, and played semi-professionally in Kearny, NJ, in his 20s. He often joked that he was as silly as he was due to the number of hits his head took during the game. He went on to coach kids in Chatham in the early years. Neil remained an avid soccer fan, attended a World Cup game where Ireland played, and in recent years enjoyed watching the success of the US Women’s team.
Neil was the winner of many talent show singing trophies and was an enthusiastic and skilled dancer as well. He enjoyed keeping fit, including almost daily walks at Loantaka with Eileen, long bike rides until recent years, and of course his daily calisthenics.
Neil had a delightful sense of humor (enjoyed a bit of the “craic” as they would say in Ireland) and loved to make people laugh. He was rarely found without a mischievous twinkle in his beautiful blue eyes and injected a sense of fun into any situation. He was the sweetest and most gentle “Da” to his girls and the silliest “Boppy” to his grandchildren. Above all, he was the loving and devoted companion to his wife, Eileen. Neil stated often that caring for Eileen as her health struggles increased was his greatest purpose and honor in life. He was our hero.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday, May 15, 2023 at 10:30am at St. Patrick’s Church, Chatham.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his name may be made to Food for the Poor: https://foodforthepoor.org/