Arlington Heights judge to be buried today at Arlington National Cemetery

By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent
Posted12/6/2018 5:33 AM
  • Robert Buckley

    Robert Buckley

In legal circles and in his hometown of Arlington Heights, Robert Buckley was known as "Judge." At his burial today, he will be saluted as "Colonel."

Buckley died Nov. 28, 2017, at the age of 94. His ashes will be buried today at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors, including a rifle salute, bugler playing taps, an escort platoon and his casket carried on a horse-drawn caisson.

"This is where American heroes of the highest caliber are buried," his daughter Jacqueline said. "Beside his military career, Dad also felt at home here. He loved Washington D.C., went to Georgetown Law and worked full time as a Capital police officer at the Senate Office Building while a student."

The process to arrange a burial at Arlington National can take up to six months; longer for full military honors, including a horse-drawn caisson. Since Buckley was cremated at the time of his death, the family felt it was worth the wait.

Buckley's career spanned 31 years in the military and 43 years as a judge, including on the Cook County circuit and Illinois Appellate courts.

Starting in 1943, Buckley enlisted in the Army and served as a pilot, navigator and radar operator in the Army Air Corps' 305th bomb group. He flew B-17s in daytime raids out of Chelveston, England.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the European Theatre Ribbon with four battle stars and an Army commendation ribbon.

After the war, Buckley spent nearly 20 years as an Air Force reservist, flying jet refuelers during the Korean conflict, and as a lawyer in the Strategic Air Command and in the Judge Advocate General's Corps through the Vietnam War. He retired in 1974 as a colonel.

One of his five children, Gabrielle Buckley, who leads Loyola University's Gannon Center for Women and Leadership, described her father as brave, compassionate, humble and respected, among many other attributes.

"He was an inspirational hero," she said, "as well as a jurist, husband, father, grandfather and friend."

However, Robert Buckley was better known for his legal career, which began in 1953 with a private practice in Chicago.

A part-time position, starting in 1959 as police magistrate in Arlington Heights led to his career on the bench. Buckley became a Cook County magistrate and associate judge, before being elected a Cook County Circuit Court judge in 1972.

It was in 1978 that he was appointed to the Illinois Appellate Court. He was elected to the appellate court in 1981 and served as presiding judge in the first division, from 1983 to 1986. He retired in 2002.

Sheila O'Brien, who served on the appellate court with Buckley for eight years, said he often talked about his military service.

"Bob was part of the Greatest Generation. He was a true war hero," O'Brien said. "He was a flyer with wonderful stories about World War II and the heroism of our troops.

"He served his country with valor," O'Brien added, "in the war -- and on the bench."

Retirement left him more time to pursue his involvement with St. James Parish in Arlington Heights, including appearing in its annual musicals.

Buckley's entire family traveled to Washington for the burial ceremony, including his wife, Patricia, who will receive a folded flag in his honor, as well as his children Gabrielle, Robert, Peter, Patrick and Jacqueline.

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