Peace. Hear me now. Upon this notice bear witness to the addition of the name of Wayne G. Buchanan to the Roster of Ancestors of the Clan Buchanan. The final page of the novel of his life was printed January 19, 2019. His passing was unassuming, without pain or violence and without prior notice. He simply went to sleep on the way to his sister’s. Plans of a night of good food, good wine, and good guitar playing with his cherished brother-in-law Paul, his sister Barbara, and his bride Carol were forever put on hold.
Wayne was born in Chester, PA on July 29, 1939. As soon as his parents, Edwin and Dorothy, could deliver his 4 siblings they headed west at a breakneck pace to plant roots in the Great State of Montana where they all grew up in the town of Missoula. Early life was spent tormenting his sisters Diane, Barbara, and Judy. Brad, his younger brother was a favorite target. Brad paid him back by becoming Wayne’s best friend until his death in 2010. Wayne mourned Brad’s passing every day.
At the age of 20 he married his high school sweetheart, Karen Lindh, and became a father to a daughter, Heather, and a son, Bruce. He graduated from UM and they spent the next few years moving from town to town while Wayne practiced his one true calling of becoming a truly spectacular teacher. Hunting and fishing were his favorite pastimes and would remain so his entire life. Eventually the family arrived in Helena and Wayne became involved in politics and education working for the Montana School Boards Assoc. After being its executive director for a number of years he decided to pursue a dream of achieving his Doctorate from the University of Virginia. Karen had other plans and headed to the opposite coast to find her own successes. Two years of study produced the desired result and Wayne didn’t wait for the ink to dry on his diploma before he headed home. He seldom left its borders again but, on those rare occasions when he did, he counted the days until he returned. He spent the remaining years of his career as the Secretary of Higher Education for the State. Colleagues often asked him why he didn’t pursue greater fame elsewhere. His response was typically Montanan - he might have made more money and enjoyed greater professional accomplishments somewhere else but the cost of leaving this place was a price too high to pay.
He lost his daughter, Heather, to breast cancer in 2001. It was truly the greatest loss of his life and his greatest failure and it changed him forever. He was forced to realize that he couldn’t fix everything - strategy and planning didn’t work, anger didn’t work and force of personality didn’t work. Heather did give him one parting gift with a granddaughter Abby who grew up to prove that it doesn’t take a mother’s presence to instill her traits in her daughter. Abby’s gift to all of us are the earie reminders of her mother. Along with Bruce’s three children, Amber, Brad, and Connor he was a passable grandfather. Distance and time precluded attending dance recitals and football games but he was extremely proud of them and loved them all. Bruce’s wife Melissa became not only a daughter-in-law but a true friend as well. He was captivated by her personality and perplexed by her ability to “hold her own” with him. When he married Carol in 2017 he inherited a feisty daughter, Misty, along with her husband “Bunny Man” Dan and another granddaughter, Taylor, and two grandsons, Evan and Matthew whom he claimed as his own and loved them all deeply. Carol walked the final mile with Wayne. He once said that she was willing to do everything he wanted to and most times did it better. She held his hand for 25 years – sometimes gently and sometimes like a vice while he kicked and screamed like a 5 year-old in Walmart. He played his Martin and sang her songs and she gave a lot and she put up with a lot and Wayne loved her for all of it.
People often times use these lines to create an image of a person blessed with perfection. Wayne was anything but perfect and the first to admit it. He wasn’t the greatest shot or the best tennis player or the funniest guy at a party. He wasn’t the best looking or the fastest or the brightest but he was endowed with one perfection: The love he had for this great state and the people who inhabit it. He traveled and saw much of this country and, with some authority, claimed there wasn’t a better place on the planet to live, to raise a family, to age and, eventually, to die and be buried in. He loved its mountains and streams, its rolling fields of golden wheat and the people who inhabit them and every place in between. Soon he will rest upon the hill across the Bay of Flathead Lake where future generations and friends will visit him upon a time and remember the man whose greatest claim was to be a Montanan. UTC
Services will be held at The Lake Funeral Home (101 Sixth Ave. East in Polson) on February 1, 2019 at 10:00 am.
We will celebrate his life at the Perfect Shot Tavern (218 Main ST. Polson) after services.