Conrad lost an icon and amazing contributor to our community last week. Buck Traxler, age 73 and former editor of the I-O, died in his home following long time lingering issues caused by diabetes and heart disease. He was born George Floyd in Missoula in 1948 to Jack and Dorothy Traxler. His parents and a sister, Marsha Colleen, preceded him in death.
Survivors include sister, Anita Traxler Bassett and her husband, Peter Vivona of Mesa, AZ; and his most special cousin, Elizabeth Shepard, and niece, Tamerah Ross from Polson; an uncle, John Badgley from Edmonds, Washington; along with his “very cool crew” at the I-O.
He mostly grew up in the Navy, and eventually followed Jack’s example by signing himself up during the Viet Nam war. Before coming to Conrad, he lived in Missoula, Washington State, California, the Azores Portugal and Hawaii, and of course, Viet Nam.
He graduated high school in Ewa Beach, Oahu, Hawaii in 1967, where he first learned the fundamentals of journalism, and fell in love with photography; he also worked in the pineapple fields for the Dole Company (which most definitely his least favorite employment of his life!!) Buck was also a greens mower at the Barbers Point golf course.
Buck’s newfound fascination for photography and writing only continued when he attended Mauna Olu Junior College on Maui for one year, and where he nurtured what was to become the love of his life: GOLF!
He entered the U.S. Navy in 1968 and served two tours at Cam Rahn Bay, South Vietnam. There he co-edited the base newsletter designed to uplift fellow soldiers, and the Family-Gram sent monthly to families of those attached to this base. His responsibilities also included classified photography and the development of all such in-theatre photography. Before an honorable discharge, Buck received the National Defense Service Medal, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, Combat Action Ribbon, Vietnam Service Medal, and a Republic of Vietnam Companion Medal.
In 1972 he married Elizabeth Jardin; they sub sequentially divorced in 1984.
After his discharge from the Navy, where he had honed his proclivity for photojournalism, Buck worked toward a degree in photography with a minor in news writing from San Diego City College in 1974.
Buck worked for Al Hamm/Varsity Photography in Missoula, and was a PR Director for the U.S. Senate campaign of B. B. Ripley in 1984. He was editor of the Phillips County News in Malta before coming to Conrad in 1986.
During his tenure here, Traxler became a notable fixture for the city by serving an appointed term on the Conrad City Council in 1988, as a member of the Conrad Area Chamber of Commerce, serving as president in 1991-1993. Buck was instrumental in getting Conrad named a “Certified City”. When President Clinton closed down the missile silos, Buck was instrumental in the government decision to turn the base housing over to the City of Conrad for the price of $1. Blue Sky Villa is now considered one of the premier 55+ communities in this region, bringing commerce and employment to the city. His work on this project became a model adopted by many cities across the nation that also experienced military base closure.
Buck was also a director and VP of the Pondera Golf Club; he served on the board of directors of the Pondera Medical Center, was a lifetime member of the VFW, and belonged to the Moose Club. He was also an active member of the Conrad Lion’s Club and was club secretary for many years.
He was a founding member of the local Crime Stoppers and served as their secretary from 1988 to 1992, and he was a member of the County Control Republican Committee.
Buck served as a batboy for an adult baseball team in Missoula when he was in the 4th grade, from which the sport became his childhood passion, and continued to adulthood. Although he never attended the University of Mt Missoula, he was a huge Griz fan and loved watching their football games on TV.
Aside from baseball and Griz games, his major passions in life centered on photojournalism and golf. He won numerous awards at the state newspaper contest for photography, sports page design and medical writing to name a few. He had a long “love-hate” relationship with his beloved golf, and felt especially lucky to achieve three “aces” in his lifetime with the sport.
Traxler loved to laugh; he had a great sense of humor (except at the worst of deadlines, then watch out!). He loved politics, followed them closely, and wore them on his sleeve. He was the quintessential patriot!
Buck loved hunting, especially with his father, Jack. They enjoyed so many hours of solitude on the hunter’s trail, from the plains of Eastern Montana to the Bitterroot, and every place in between! Buck put the “kill shot” on a buck when he was ten years old and from then onward, remained “Buck”. He was especially happy to not have to ever again suffer big sister’s taunts of “Georgie Porgie, Puddin’ in Pie, blah blah blah”!!!! When he was 18, he formally changed his name to Buck.
It is not surprising that Buck would thrive as a community leader for 30+ years and be so civic minded and passionate about everything Montana. He was truly a gift to Conrad. He came from good “pioneer stock”, his paternal grandparents, Floyd and Agnes Traxler having homesteaded in Sula after enduring a grueling covered wagon trip from Ohio. His maternal grandfather, George Shepard, was a successful attorney in Missoula and served in the state legislature; Gertrude was passionate about horses and was the first woman to ride the entire Rocky Mountain Divide, as well as teaching school over a span of roughly 50 years.
Per Buck’s request, Cremation has taken place. An informal memorial service will be hosted at Pondera Golf Club, 847 Conrad-Dupuyer Rd, September 10 at 200pm. All are welcome.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the local Lion’s Club or Conrad Food Pantry in his honor.
If unable to attend, click following Zoom link to watch live service: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86108646521?pwd=eVNYY0tRZGRKdENQQTFncDRMYlhTZz09
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Buck Traxler, please visit our floral store.