Ridgefield Little League mourns death of Coach Dave Buckley, 51: 'A Hall of Fame baseball dad'

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox

RIDGEFIELD — Some dads go to their kid's games with a chair and others go with a glove. And Dave Buckley was the glove kind of dad, town resident Mike Lyons said of friend, who died Jan. 13 at age 51 after a brief illness.

"Dave was always there to lend a helping hand on the field with the kids, whether it was picking up a rake to help prep the fields or to work with the kids in a drill," said Lyons, who knew Buckley for many years through Ridgefield Little League.

Buckley is survived by his wife Ingrid Buttner Buckley, daughter Juliana “Jules” Buckley, 16, and Alexander Jack “AJ” Buckley, 11. He worked in the health-care and weight management industry.

A Ridgefield resident for eight years, Buckley was a large presence in the lives of his kids and the Little League world, said people who were close to him.  

Ingrid Buckley said her husband was a big sports fan. "He was a soccer player growing up.  He was a baseball player. He's a huge (Dallas) Cowboys (football) fan," she said. 

"It's ironic because they won on Sunday and they're playing again. And I'm like, yeah, he definitely had a hand in that," Ingrid Buckley said of the Cowboys recent victories.

Sports was also a way Buckley connected with his kids, she said.

"He loved helping with the kids," she said. "We created such a great family among the baseball organization and in the Little League and travel league, and they're some of my closest friends."

Ridgefield resident Bryan Ward, who also knew Buckley through Little League, said in a Facebook post that Buckley "was and will always be a Hall of Fame baseball dad."

"Dave coached and trained, he worked practices and helped with drills, he was the first to arrive for any field maintenance, he and Jules assisted with concessions, he encouraged and inspired our players, and he never missed one of AJ's games," Ward said. "Dave was a true presence at the ball field and a volunteer like none other."

In a phone interview Friday, Lyons said that when help was needed, Buckley would always be available. 

"If an umpire didn't show up, he was always the first to raise his hand and umpire for a game," Lyons said. "He could always joke around with the kids and made it very light. He was just the guy you wanted around."

The Little League is considering planning a spring tournament in Buckley's honor, he said.

As with A,J.'s teams, Buckley was also always available for Juliana, who plays softball and is involved with other activities, Lyons said.

"His daughter runs a little day camp at our pool here, and he was really proud of how hard she worked and the effort she put into creating these things," Lyons said. "She hustled and she got that work ethic from both of her parents."

Whether Buckley was working in a concession stand or helping with a pancake breakfast, "he's always willing to help in all those ways that you need in order to have an organization like you're doing," said  Jeff Audevard, president of the board of the Ridgefield Little League. 

"He really is just a representative of the kind of people that we want associated with Ridgefield Little League and what little league in general tries to be," Audeyard said. 

Friends created a fundraising webpage at www.gofundme.com/f/y6ku7-the-buckley-family, which has raised more than $40,000 in five days, to support the Buckley family.

Family and friends of Dave Buckley will be received at calling hours from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Kane Funeral Home, 25 Catoonah St., Ridgefield. A Celebration of Life event will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday at the Red Rooster Pub at 43 Danbury Raod in Ridgefield. A funeral service will take place at 10 a.m. Monday at Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, 207 Main St., Ridgefield. Another Celebration of Life will be held at 1 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Westerly Yacht Club, 1 Watch Hill Road, Westerly, R.I.

This story was updated with additional information on services.