Kennith “Ken” E. Buck departed this life on December 23, 2020 after a brief illness. He was born June 26, 1925 in Fordyce, AR. He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 68 Years, Jean Simpson Buck, his son, William, Joseph Buck, his mother, Dona Buck Ross, his father William Buck, and ten brothers and sisters. He is survived by his loving daughter, Marilyn Buck Pace, 3 wonderful grandchildren, Jason C. Pace, Jennifer Buck Webb, and Cheri Buck (Jimmy) Lumpkin, 3 great-grand-children, 2 sisters Dorothy Everett, and Edith Brown, one Brother Richard Buck and dear friends and employees Vital and Maria Samuel and Charlotte Smith.
Due to COVID19 safety, a graveside service will be held at 2:00, Monday, October 26 at Mobile Memorial Gardens Cemetery. Masks are requested.
In lieu of flowers, the family has established in conjunction with the Alabama Pecan Growers Association’s ”Ken Buck Memorial Fund” to be used to buy pecan trees to replant some of the Baldwin County orchards devastated by Hurricane Sally.
Checks may be made payable to:
Alabama Pecan Growers Association
P. O. Box 1453
Auburn, AL 36831
Please write on the memo line that it is for the “Ken Buck Memorial Fund”.
Ken Buck shines as a beacon to all as an example of the American Work Ethic, a kind and loving husband and father, and an example of how a person should live their life. He was a good student, but enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard-U.S. Navy during World War II. In 1944, he was discharged from the Coast Guard because of injury and finally was allowed to leave the hospital. In Mobile, he worked at various odd jobs where he met a very attractive, clerk typist Jean Simpson. They married on January 6, 1945 and remained married and in love for 68 years.
Ken went back to Murphy High School night to finish high school and to attend a school for veterans to learn the refrigeration trade. Ken got a lot of experience in a hurry working on refrigeration systems on Liberty Ships after World War II. He was mostly self-taught by learning on the job. He worked for various refrigeration companies, until 1953 when he started Mobile Refrigeration Company. Ken designed and built refrigeration systems with ice plants from Texas to south Florida, to Virginia, including 5 ice plants in Bayou La Batre. Mobile Refrigeration changed its name to later become Engineered Refrigeration Systems, the 5th largest refrigeration company in the world. Ken was considered to be one of the foremost design refrigeration engineers in his field. He was a pioneer in the design of new refrigeration equipment and food processing techniques, which revolutionized the seafood industry.
Ken Buck grew in stature in the industry and recognized a need for better education of the people in the industry. He became President of the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Ventilating Engineers and became a charter member of the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR), which promotes education, information, and industry standards for the safe and proper use of ammonia as a refrigerant. The IIAR grew from a dozen or so members to a now a worldwide association with over 2,000 members over about a 30 year period. The IIAR advanced the knowledge of the field of ammonia refrigeration and put it on a sound engineering basis world-wide. To show their great respect for Ken Buck, the IIAR elected Ken to an Honorary Life Member of IIAR.
In 1972 Ken and Jean bought 100 acres in the Irvington community just north of Bayou La Batre. and built a home.
Ken did not believe in just taking and talking and not giving. I quote Dad from the Mobile Register, “I don’t think that it is right to make your living at something and not try and improve the overall industry.” “A tide raises all ships.” Not about to sit down and rock, Ken’s hobby of farming became his main focus and he established Ken Buck Farms. He became a champion for the expansion of the growing of pecans, fruits, and vegetables and continued to operate his 135 acre farm until his death. He has survived numerous devastating hurricanes causing him to rebuild and replant with the help of his loyal farm manager and friend Vital Samuel and his wonderful Charlotte Smith
Ken Buck is responsible for there being a pecan program at Auburn University.” He sits on numerous advisory committees and was a Southern Director of the Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association from 2006-2008. He was the 1993 Alabama Pecan Grower of the Year. Ken Buck is a former President of the Mobile Pecan Growers Association, President of the Alabama Pecan Growers Association, and President of the Southeastern Pecan Growers Association. He has the esteemed honor of having been inducted into the Alabama Pecan Growers Hall of Fame.
In March of 2004, Ken Buck was honored with the Southeaster Pecan Growers Association’s Gold Ribbon for Outstanding Growing and Named Pecan Grower of the Year. “A selected list of Ken’s associations and honors include:
Past President, Mobile County Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association
Past Vice President, Alabama Fruit and vegetable Growers Association
Past President, Alabama Pecan Growers Association
Board of Directors, Alabama Pecan Growers Association
Vice President, National Pecan Growers Association
Past President, life member, Mobile Chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Ventilating Engineers
Charter Member, Board of Directors, Honorary Life Member, Committee Chair, International Institution of Ammonia Refrigeration
1993 Grower of the Year, Alabama Pecan Growers Association
2003 Outstanding Grower of the Year of the Southeastern Pecan Growers Association.
2019Lifetime Achievement Alabama Pecan Growers Association
Mr. Buck leaves this life with his fulfilled life belief, “That you should always leave this world a better place then when you entered it!”
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