"High energy" is not the term you expect to hear most often describing a nonagenarian?#34;much less two nonagenarians.
Morris Buske, 92, and Roy Gummerson, 90, died on the same day, Jan. 14, 2005, Buske at his home in Holley Court Terrace, Gummerson at West Suburban Hospital, where he had spent years working as a dedicated volunteer.
The other term most frequently used to describe them was "legend."
Buske, a 64-year resident of Oak Park, was born on a farm in Wisconsin in 1912 and attended a one-room schoolhouse. He earned a Bachelor in Education degree from Wisconsin State College and a Master in Philosophy (Ph. M.) from the University of Wisconsin, where he taught in the history department. He completed all but his thesis for a doctorate.
Buske taught history at Oak Park and River Forest High School from 1940 to 1973. He even wrote the textbook, The Record of Mankind, in addition to numerous other educational articles, series and materials.
Long-time Oak Park Village Clerk Virginia Cassin said her son was in his final class. When class ended, he popped a piece of chalk in his mouth, and began chewing it. Actually it was a piece of candy, Cassin said, which was typical of the droll sense of humor Buske brought to his teaching?#34;and everything else he did.
After retirement, he became an energetic champion of the Oak Park legacy of Ernest Hemingway, establishing the Hemingway Foundation with his first wife, Dorothy, and serving as the organization's first chairman.
"He loved the community," said his daughter Carol, "He looked for ways to make Oak Park as strong as possible. When he started the Hemingway Foundation, he was thinking about tourism."
But he also turned himself into a respected Hemingway scholar. He wrote books, gave lectures, and even penned a play, Lovely Walloona, which was produced in both Oak Park and Petoskey, Mich. (the site of the Hemingway summer home and setting for the play).
But Buske didn't limit himself to Hemingway. He was chairman of the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission in 1975-76, which organized Oak Park's celebration of the nation's bicentennial. He served on the original board of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio Foundation. He was past president of the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest. He received the Carl Winters Community Service Award from Rotary. He was the faculty representative of the recently formed OPRF Alumni Association.
An avid fisherman and bridge player, he stayed busy till the end, completing a book titled, Hemingway at a School for Writers, which contains unpublished Hemingway high school papers, included after gaining permission from Hemingway's son, Patrick.
"It's still at the printer," said Cassin, who succeeded Buske as chair of the Hemingway Foundation. "We were hoping to get it in his hands before he died."
Cassin credited Buske's "enthusiasm" and "vigor" for getting the foundation established in 1983. "His good humor and commitment drew other people into the process," Cassin said. And he lived long enough to see the realization of another dream, the foundation's purchase of the Hemingway Boyhood Home on Kenilworth, which he had been pushing for since the purchase of the Birth Home years earlier. Even at the end as he was slowing down, Cassin said, the foundation's Boyhood Home Committee would meet at his apartment at Holley Court Terrace so he could sit in on the proceedings.
Cassin said the death of his first wife, Dorothy, in 1989, was a real blow to Morris, but when he married his second wife, also Dorothy (aka Dot), 11 years ago, "she gave him a whole new zest for life."
"He had a wonderful sense of humor and brought enjoyment to everything he did," said Cassin, noting that the foundation's archives have been named in his honor.
"He was always able to come up with the right phrase or joke at the appropriate time," Carol Buske recalled. "He would wait for the subject to come up. His timing was perfect. He was warm, witty and wise. He loved his family and that love was returned."
Morris Buske is survived by his wife, Dorothy (Dot); his daughters, Dorothy (Walt) Lowe and Carol Buske; his step-children, Nancy (Robert) Lipper and Brian (Karen) Meier Jr.; his grandchildren John (Leesa Dannheiser) and Catherine (Jon) Livingston; his step-grandchildren, Marcie Lipper and Jessica and Joseph Meier; and his great-grandchildren, Alexandra and Elizabeth Graybill.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 23, at Holley Court Terrace, 1111 Ontario St., appropriately enough in the Oak Park Room. Memorials may be sent to the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park, 200 N. Oak Park Ave. 60302 or the OPRF Alumni Association, 201 N. Scoville Ave. 60302.
? For Roy Gummerson's obituary, see p. 9.