Giles community mourns the loss of J.B. Buckland

Buckland was killed during farming accident

GILES COUNTY, Va. – A county in the New River Valley is still reeling from the tragic death of a beloved community leader.

J.B. Buckland, of Rich Creek, a 33-year veteran on the Giles County school board, local business owner and farmer was killed in a farming accident Tuesday on his property.

The 73-year-old died after falling into a hay baler where he was trapped for nearly four hours. He was pronounced dead on the scene after first responders were able to free him from the baler. Living his life as a farmer, it was equipment those who knew him say he was very familiar with. 

Buckland leaves behind a legacy of community service. A testament to the respect he had, local farmers were out in his fields Wednesday baling the hay Buckland started before his unexpected death. A man known for his hard work ethic, farmers said it’s what he would have wanted.

While many are saddened and impacted by the tremendous loss, he won’t be remembered by the tragic way he died, but instead for the way he lived. 

"You can't look anywhere in this community and not see something that he touched,” said Giles County Administer Chris McKlarney. McKlarney said he considered Buckland like a father, and a grandfather to his children.

"Words really are inadequate to describe the impact that he had,” McKlarney said. Words that were echoed by many in the community who spoke to 10 News.

McKlarney said he was a generous man who helped countless people, yet he was humble, never wanting to take credit for the good work he did.

"He was extremely benevolent, just one of those people that can't be replaced,” McKlarney said.

A plaque still hangs at the Giles County school board office in Pearisburg commemorating the 33 years of service Buckland gave to improving the quality of education. He began serving in 1980, and in 1985 became the board chair. He remained board chair until his last year in 2013.

Even after his term was over, he was still involved with helping children, volunteering when he could. He is pictured serving free meals to school children during the county’s summer feeding program at the school board office.

School superintendent Terry Arbogast worked with Buckland before taking over as superintendent and described Buckland as a man who was passionate about helping others. He said he always had the public’s best interest in mind.

"He was dedicated to the school system but he was also dedicated to Giles County. He wanted what was best for the students of Giles County. He wanted what was best for the teachers of Giles County. He wanted what was best for the citizens of Giles County,” Arbogast said.

He was known for a true grit that made him successful in owning multiple businesses in addition to running his own cattle farm on land that belonged to his father's family on Peters Mountain.

"Everyone who came in contact with him, they are better for it,” McKlarney said. "His impact, his legacy will be felt forever.

Buckland is survived by his wife of 53 years, Barbara Jo Caldwell Buckland, his daughter Ann Borchelt and husband Bret of Winston-Salem, N.C., and his son Jason Buckland and wife Emily of Narrows as well as six grandchildren whom Buckland considered the “lights of his life.”

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 10 at the First Baptist Church in Rich Creek. A public visitation will be held from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 9, at the Narrows High School auditorium.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Giles Technology Center Land Laboratory. 

Online guestbook can be signed or condolences may be sent to the family at www.broyles-shrewsbury.com

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