Buck Mays, Jr., 96, passed away Jan. 10, 2012, in Marshall, AR. He was born in Gilbert, Arkansas on July 7, 1916, and lived all of his life in Searcy County. He married his beloved wife, Lillie Mae Morris, on Sept. 18, 1937.
Buck and Lillie had four children:Allena Jones (C.R.) of San Antonio, TX; Mary Beth Meacham (Gerald) of Batesville; Buck III (Vicki) of Silver Hill; and Ben (Linda) of Clinton; and adored grandchildren: Christie Dolan, Betsy Meacham, Bart Meacham; Neal Noel, Mary, Ross, Ryan, Rob, and Rhett Mays; Leah Krebs, Sarah Briscoe, and Tamar Cunningham. Their progeny also include 18 great-grandchildren with two more due in the spring, and two great-great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, Lillie, brothers Ancil and Joe Mays and sister, Willie Faye Ranes. He is survived by a brother, Jimmy Mays, of Springfield, Missouri.
Mr. Mays was a member of the First Baptist Church of Marshall for 75 years. He was a veteran of World War II, a Mason, and a tireless supporter of community and economic development in Searcy County.
Buck Mays Jr. was born July 7, 1916 in Gilbert, Arkansas, the fourth child of Buchanan Earnest and Claudia Myatt Mays. At the time of his birth Buck's father and grandfather were the proprietors of the Gilbert General Store (the building survives to this day as the headquarters of Buffalo Camping and Canoeing). Wisely located just slightly uphill from the town's ill-fated and temperance protested saloon, which washed away in the great flood of 1915, the store building survived Buffalo River's rising waters. With the family business spared, Buck Jr. and his siblings grew up in an extended family of uncommonly progressive optimists, immersed in the art and discipline and precarious excitement of frontier commerce.
The Mays family and business eventually moved away from the river to take advantage of Marshall's railroad advantaged economy, becoming Buck Mays Store and eventually
adding a feed mill and cotton gin. Buck Jr. grew up delivering groceries from the store on his bicycle, fetching the family's cow from the town commons for milking and slipping off to the river whenever possible with his fishing pole. When depression deepened to the point that the business could no longer afford to extend credit Buck's father temporarily closed the store and moved his family to St. Louis, where young Buck Jr. found a job as mail boy in his Uncle Eds Bank. He later recalled that the bank made him wear "those city slicker short pants", and that he was much relieved when he and his parents moved back to Searcy County where "real men" wore overalls.
As a young man Buck tried several occupations. He dabbled in corn farming down in the Leslie Cove one spring, but the summer's drought and an ill-tempered mule made him rethink the agrarian lifestyle. He worked on the production line for a while at the Mays Stave Factory in Leslie. He particularly enjoyed teaming up with a cousin to start a fishing guide service on the Buffalo River, but shortly sold his interest when his customers began to expect moonshine whiskey in their float trip provisions.
Buck Jr. discovered as a young man that his interest and aptitude was in buying, selling and trading, and in the careful treatment of customers that led to lifelong warm professional and personal relationships. Together with his brothers Ancil and Joe, he ran the general mercantile that supplied the people of the county with every necessity including trade-ins and used items they could not have afforded new. His favorite pastime and constant source of supplemental income was trading cars. He loved cars in a way that only someone who first knew them as a luxury item could, from his first Model T purchased for $100 dollars to the Cadillac he gave away when his eyes failed.
Buck was quick to say that the best trade he ever made was his fishing pole for the love of his life, Lillie (Morris), who, at age 16 had moved from Mountain View to Marshall to attend high school and steal his heart. Lillie was his loving wife, best friend, chief adviser, and devoted mother to their four children for six decades of marriage.
To his children and grandchildren, Buck Mays was the perfect father to guide their development through adolescence and beyond. His demeanor encompassed a rare blend of respect, love and friendship that discouraged typical teenage misbehavior not through fear of disciplinary repercussions, but through dread of risking his disappointment.
Through advancing age slowly deprived him of his dear wife, siblings, and eyesight, he continued to take obvious pleasure in small comforts and conversation. He remained always pleasant and considerate.
Daddy Buck was deeply loved by his family and his community and will be missed greatly. He left us all a shining example how to live life well.
Services for Buck Mays Jr. will be 10:00 Monday, January 14, 2013 at Marshall First Baptist Church with Bro.Sean Milliken officiating. Pallbearers will be: Jim Brisco, Neal Mays, Noel Mays, Ross Mays, Ryan Mays, Rob Mays and Rhett Maysand C.R. Jones. Honorary Pallbearers will be: Jack Mays, Jess Myatt, Bill Dolan, Ingar Krebs, Bradley Mays and Bart Meacham. Bill Mays and Jack Morris. Visitation will be Sunday afternoon from 2:00 – 5:00 PM at Roller-Coffman Funeral Home in Marshall. Burial will be in East Lawn Cemetery in Marshall. The family requests that memorials be given to the First Baptist Church of Marshall in Buck's memory.