Delbert (Buck) Reid Fife, 85, of Ocala FL, passed away at E.W. and Lucille Cates Hospice House in Ocala, FL on December 8, 2021, after a long, valiant struggle with myasthenia gravis. No arrangements for a celebration of life have been made at this time. Hiers-Baxley, Ocala, FL has assisted with honoring his memory.
Those who knew Buck remember his sense of humor; he was fun and enjoyed a good prank or joke. He was also understanding, honest and lived by a high moral standard. Buck was warm, caring, compassionate, and sensitive. Buck gave generously to good causes, and he looked for opportunities for Random Acts of Kindness to help people in need. In lieu of flowers, please honor Buck by following his example of doing good for others. Please give generously to a good cause of your own choosing.
Delbert Reid Fife was born on May 25, 1936, to Christine (Reid) Jones and Jasper Delbert Jones in Montrose, West Virginia. He attended Ivy Hill, a one-room schoolhouse near the family farm, Central School and Elkins High School. Many of Buck’s favorite stories were about his schoolboy pranks, growing up on the farm in West Virginia, his dear Uncle Troy and Aunt Beulah, the family plow horses Mike and Ike, adventures with his best friend Lee Murphy. When his Uncle Troy fell sick, Buck, a young teen, took on the responsibility for farm work early mornings and late evenings. Buck credited his 7th grade teacher at Ivy Hill, Mrs. Sponagle, for his life-long love of reading. That year Buck read 56 books that she brought for him from Elkins.
In the fall of 1953 Buck moved to Detroit, enrolled at Redford High School, starred in track, and graduated in 1955. During the summer he worked at his grandfather’s company, Fife Electric Supply, then moved on to work at Pioneer Specialties. In 1954 he joined the Air Force National Guard and in 1955 went on active duty. 1957 he took a job with Fisher Body, Livonia, MI.
July 1989, Buck found his perfect companion when he married and shared his life, love and adventures with Barbara Starkey; beginning their journey in Northville, MI to New Port Richey, FL to their current home in Ocala, FL. Buck had two children from his previous marriage 1958-1970, Christine Louise & Daniel Bradley. Daughter Christine and Buck remained close throughout the years.
Buck had a passion for cars. He was into drag racing during the 1960s at the Detroit and Milan Dragways. He drove a 55 Chevy which garnered numerous wins and trophies and Buck won the 1961 National Championship in class C stock. A lifelong NHRA fan, Christine surprised Buck on his 70th Birthday-Shirley Muldowney, NHRA Top Fuel Champion called and wished Buck a Happy Birthday!
In recent years in Ocala, Buck and Barbara could be seen driving a 23T Ford Street Rod, then his 1931 Ford Model A 4-door Town Car, the body 2 tone green and the fenders black. With the help of his friend, Ken Yurga, an expert Model A mechanic, Buck loving restored the entire car to near-pristine condition.
In 1964 Buck began a long interest in Trap Shooting. Western Wayne Conservation Club, Buck served as Trap Chairman for several years. In 1967 he won Class D at the Michigan State Shoot with 194 out of 200. He won several trophies over the years. He especially enjoyed shooting at Birmingham Gun Club and the annual Grand American held in Vandalia, OH. Buck made many friends at The Silver Dollar Shooters Club in Odessa, FL and shot in the Southern Grand American held there. After retiring to Ocala, FL, Buck volunteered his time for 10 years to run several league shoots a year and special shoots at Robinson Ranch Trap and Skeet in Inglis, FL until his health failed.
During mid-1970s through mid-1980s, Buck lived and spent his summers boating in St. Clair Shores, MI. His first cabin boat “Lucky Buck”, then 30’ Chris-Craft “Running Bare” and two subsequent Wellcraft Off-Shore boats, also “Running Bare”. Proud of his Cherokee heritage, you could always tell Buck’s boats by his bare-naked Indian. He is past member of Chrysler Yacht Club.
1960 Buck joined the Detroit Free Press as a Flyboy where he advanced to Journeyman Pressman. Through the fires and turmoil of 1967 Detroit riots, Buck was police escorted to The Detroit Free Press, work continued, and the newspaper had to roll! Buck was elected Union Chairman in 1970 serving as Chairman for two years. In 1972 he was elected Vice President of Local 13 Printing Pressmen Union but fall 1972 he resigned as Vice President of Local 13 for Foreman position with the Detroit Free Press. When the newspaper moved to the new Riverfront Printing Plant in 1979, Buck was promoted to Assistant Pressroom Superintendent. 1984 he was named Pressroom Superintendent and held that position until 1990 when he was named Night Production Manager for the (merged) Detroit Newspaper Agency. In 1991 he was named Production Manager of the Inserting Operation and Mailrooms and in 1992, he became Special Project Manager for the Production Operation. Buck retired from the Detroit Newspaper Agency March 31,1999 after 39 years of dedicated service to both newspapers, The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News.
Buck joined the Masons, North Warren Lodge #594, Warren MI. He was raised as Entered Apprentice on March 31, 1986, Fellow Craft on May 2,
1986, and Master Mason on June 23, 1986. He went through the chairs and served as Worshipful Master in 1990 and continued his affiliation with the Lodge until his death.
Buck leaves his beloved wife and soulmate of 32 years, Barbara (Kleeberger, Starkey) and their devoted paw companion Spike; and his daughter, Christine (Don) Hoffmeyer, of whom he was very proud. Christine’s husband, Don Hoffmeyer was like a son to him. Buck leaves one granddaughter, Bonnie Sayre and two great-grandchildren Alexandria and Eric Hoffman. Buck’s younger sister Betty Kundrat survives him. Buck had five siblings who preceded him in death: Jasper Jones’ three daughters from his first marriage, Sylvia (Toby), Opal (Betty) and Enid (Peggy); also, his mother’s two older children, Harry Jones, and Jennie (Art) Ehase.