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Harry Jean Buckmister

09/06/1924 - 11/23/2019
Interment: City of Mesa

Harry Jean Buckmister, son of Frank Nelson Buckmister and Jessie Gould Reed Buckmister passed away peacefully on November 23, 2019 at the age of 95. Harry was born in Mankato, Minnesota on September 6, 1924 and married the love of his life Matilda Ball on December 30, 1943.

Harry served his country in the US Navy from 1943-1945 and ultimately became a flight deck plane director on the USS Petrof Bay, which was an Escort Carrier during WWII. He was part of America’s greatest generation.
In 1953, Harry and Matilda packed up their three children and everything they owned at the time and headed to Mesa, AZ with no place to call home or a job. Two additional children were born in Mesa.

Upon arrival in Mesa Harry immediately got a job with Leppla Moving to provide for his family. He then went on to work for the United States Postal Service and then ultimately the Mesa Fire Department where he earned the rank of Captain. Harry worked for the Fire Department for 25 years (1955-1980) and retired in 1980. He was the oldest living retired firefighter for the City of Mesa. Harry cherished and faithfully served as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Dad’s hands and heart were continually serving and helping others, however his greatest service, love and dedication was to his family. Our fondest family memories were spending time together in Lakeside, AZ and Rocky Point, Mexico.

Harry is preceded in death by his eternal companion of 63 years, Matilda Ball Buckmister, son Paul Jean Buckmister and grandson Brett Courtland Buckmister. He is survived by son, Douglas Kent Buckmister (Cathie), son, Kevin Ray Buckmister (Laura), daughter, Amy Woodward (Mark) and son, Karl John Buckmister (Sharon) and his grandchildren, great grandchildren and a great-great grandchild. We Love You Dad/Grandpa

No Services, family graveside only.


  • I am a son of Irving and Ethlyn Ray. The Buckmister family was a wonderful part of my life in Mesa. They rented a house my father and I built on University dr. for many years. Harry was always a wonderful neighbor, mentor and example to the Ray family! He and my father shared some of their experiences of their military service during WW II, which I loved to listen to! Paul and I were the best of friends during my high school years, even though we went to different schools. (He and n.y sister, Ilene, shared some of their school years) Harry and his wife were angels to Paul and they loved Ilene as well. I was hired by MFD the year after Harry retired and always felt bad that I never got to work with him. I always felt that Harry and my father were two of the best men on earth!
    Melvin Ray

  • Harry was fun to work with, he will be missed

  • Harry was one of my all-time favorite captains at the Mesa FD. What a nice man he was, very easy to get along with and one who provided a most pleasant work environment for the entire crew. He was one captain who “got it.” One thing that really stands out was that Harry beamed when talking about the house he was building for his retirement up in Lakeside. It was going to be his dream come true.

    Sharing one of the most iconic MFD memories I have regarding time spent at Station #6 paints a fond picture of Harry’s personality that I’ll always appreciate. An incident occurred one afternoon while one of the crew was preparing dinner. Our cook was making pinto beans in a pressure cooker and he apparently had the heat set much too high and for way too long. The pressure relief valve gave way after a while and the pot spewed beans all over the kitchen much like an errant attack line. There was not an object in the kitchen or dining area that did not have beans sprayed all over it, including the cook. The crew was sitting in the dayroom when the pot let-go. In a nanosecond we all went from being seated to at least four feet off the ground — all except for the cook who instinctively turned to make his getaway and ran face-first into a nearby wall. Luckily, he was much closer to the far end of the dining table than he was to the stove. There was not a heartrate below 150 in the entire place.

    As captains do, Harry quickly assessed the situation. The mess that was created was daunting, not to mention that supper was ruined and the next several hours would need to be devoted to clean-up. He put an obligatory supervisor’s scowl on his face and proceeded to give the bean-sprayed cook an earful. At least he attempted to but the sparkle in his eyes and the edges of his lips relentlessly attempting to curl upwards did their best to betray him. He was shaking slightly as he fought-off laughter as best he could. Quickly he retreated to the captain’s office out of necessity, closed the door, and where I’m certain he finally got a very hearty laugh out of his system before returning to the kitchen to “sternly” ensure that all hands returned the kitchen back to sparkling clean once again.

    My sincerest condolences to the entire Buckmister family. Harry will be greatly missed.

  • Captain Buckmister was my first Captain. After a month long training academy, I was assigned to Station Three. On our first shift, in the afternoon, we went out to drill and after a few evolutions we stopped and he asked if either of his two new rookies knew how to drive. I had done construction before being hired so I said I knew how to drive. From my very first shift I was available as a relief driver when needed. Captain Buckmister had us take the Patrol Truck out for at least two hours patrolling Stations Three’s area. I knew all the streets and alleyways of Station Three’s area, after a few weeks. He was kind, knowledgeable and took his job serious. I have always respected and appreciated working for Captain Buckmister. He was part of the “tribe” that helped me have a successful career. I will always remember my first Captain and I know there is a special place in heaven for this wonderful man!

  • Harry Buck was a fine man and good Capt: I got to be his Eng: for some years, and have some great stories to remember him. Rest in peace my good friend.

  • I would like to thank all of you that have taken the time to offer your condolences to our family and the beautiful tributes to my father.
    I wanted to reply to each of you individually, but for some reason when I clicked the
    “reply” button it wouldn’t allow me to respond.
    I’m so grateful for the love and impact he had not only on his family but the community and friends. His hands were always doing service for others. He was always willing to help those in need and lend a hand to lift others.
    Dad will be greatly missed, but we are at peace knowing he is reunited with his eternal companion, his son, his grandson, and his other family members. What a beautiful reunion.
    Thank you for being his friend and/or co-worker and for being a part of his life.
    Thank you again from the family of Harry Buckmister

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