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Remembering Priscilla Buckley
A great lady leaves us.

Priscilla Buckley, in the early days of National Review

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FR. GEORGE W. RUTLER
At any gathering of the usual suspects, the presence of Priscilla lightened things. In all the time I knew her, I never heard anyone of any view or disposition conjure any criticism of her. Hers was an almost preternatural amiability that confounded anyone tempted to self-importance. I enjoyed a cocktail with her just a few weeks ago and then after dinner she was eager to use the latest electronic-book gadget. She was preparing for an eye examination the next morning, and I hoped it would go well, for as a sharpshooter she did need her eyes. The time before that when we had dinner, it was by chance: I had not seen her for many months, and had just been reading the family’s tribute to her father in which was a photograph of her as a child. No less than an hour after I had looked at that picture, she showed up in front of the elevators at the Union League Club. I was actually carrying the book and was able to show her the picture. No question, I told her, that was not a coincidence. Anyway, Chesterton said that angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. Priscilla was not meant to be an angel, for she was encoded to be a grand lady, “a little lower than the angels and crowned with glory and honor.”

— Fr. George Rutler is author of Cloud of Witnesses: Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive.


ELIZABETH M. WHELAN

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My husband Steve and I had the good fortune to befriend Priscilla during the 1980s. We dined frequently at our place, at her apartment in New York City — and dined out at (where else?) our beloved Nicola Paone. She always had an interesting story to tell. I recall our enjoying her anecdote about Nancy Reagan: She and Nancy both graduated from Smith College in 1943 — both being the same age at graduation. But, Priscilla told us with a smile, as the years went on, Nancy’s reported age was considerably younger than hers. “How could that be?” she asked with a twinkle in her eye.

Priscilla Buckley was a gracious, refined lady of estimable intelligence. She was organized without ever making anyone feel as if she was organizing them. She would conduct a conversation by making everyone feel included in the discourse.

Priscilla was devoted to her brother Bill. In her subdued admiration, she would tell you about his forthcoming book in a manner that made you want to leave her drawing room straightaway and search for the nearest book store. Yet, you never imagined that she was importuning you on his behalf; she was simply the devoted sister, content to bask in his limelight, even though she herself was managing editor of National Review.

— Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan is president of the American Council on Science and Health.



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