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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Hope Collier Buechler

Hope Buechler’s gone. She died just two weeks before my Amazing Bob.

I’ve written about the Buechler’s before. They’re family friends, dating back to the early ‘60s when Daddy and Jim both taught at St. Bernard's, a boy’s prep school in Gladstone, New Jersey. I’ve a lot of great memories of the whole family both from childhood as well as my, theoretical, adulthood.

I visited madre y padre Buechler after they moved to Taos, Susan in Minneapolis and Lydia in der große Apfel. I’ve even had a dream where we were on vaca together in the Seychelles.

Hope once said, to my mother, that I was more niece/cousin than family friend. Man o man, that made me happy.

Hope is the reason that I was able to build a better relationship with my mother. She gave me Lucy's back story, put things into perspective. Mutti and I would never be close but we came to understand and appreciate each other – thanks to Hope.

Yesterday, Jen and I drove out to Webster for the East Coast Hope Memorial. It was held at the summer cottage the Buechlers shared with Hope’s brother’s families. It’s a magical, pastoral place, deep in the woods on Lake Chaubunagungamaug.

This, below, is Hope’s obituary – written by Jim and appearing in the Taos News.
Hope Collier Buechler died in Taos on June 17, 2016 of acute leukemia. She was 82.

Born in New York and raised in New England, Hope attended Radcliffe College where she met and married Jim Buechler in 1955. The couple and their family lived in New York, Iowa, New Jersey, and California before settling in Duxbury, Massachusetts. 

For a time Hope worked as a librarian. Then she became a historical re-enactor on the Mayflower II, which was moored across the bay in Plymouth, she immersed herself in the role, as such actors must do, even to speaking in the Pilgrim dialect around the house. A high point in her re-enacting career came a few years later when she played the part of Abigail Adams, one of her two most admired women (the other being Eleanor Roosevelt) at the Adams National Historical Park.   

Hope arrived in Taos for good in the fall of 1996. Within two hours she had found the condo on Ski Valley Road where she and Jim would spend the next 20 years.  They were stimulating years for her. She took great pleasure in dancing and was a founder of the Taos Contra Dance. From her friend Jenny Vincent she learned the traditional dances of New Mexico. But her favorite dances of all were those described in the novels of Jane Austen, in the English Country tradition. In recent years Hope became an English Country dance caller and instructor.

Surely the most stimulating, as well as the most exasperating, and yet the most satisfying times of Hope's life in Taos came during her long tenure as chair of the Democratic party's Precinct Nine. At this level of politics she throve. She loved the warm give and take, even with opponents.

She was a good speaker and an effective writer. Like many of her generation, her political ideas reflected those of those of F.D.R. and Eleanor  Roosevelt. She was delighted, upon moving to Taos, to find so many relics of the New Deal such as the murals in the old County Court House. She believed absolutely in the American political system and strove to make it work for all citizens. Hope also devoted time to environmental organizations, volunteering with the Taos Land Trust and Amigos Bravos. She is survived by her husband Jim and their four children: Lydia, of New York; Will, of Taos; Paul, of Aspen; and Susan of Minneapolis, all of whom will sorely miss her lively spirit, inquisitive mind, and unstinting love. She is also survived by two brothers, James Collier of New York and Christopher Collier of Connecticut.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Taos Land Trust or Amigos Bravos.

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