The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.
- Mark Twain
Another giant in the international vascular surgery community has passed from us. It is with deepest sadness that we report the loss of Dr. Clifford J. Buckley after he suffered a cervical fracture in a fall at his home. He was 80 years old.
Dr. Buckley was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann University School of Medicine. He received his vascular surgery training at Massachusetts General Hospital following military service in Vietnam and his surgical residency at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center.
Dr. Buckley spent 16 years in active military duty in the US Air Force. His expertise in helicopter rescue of wounded soldiers from the front lines during the Vietnam War led him to serve as Command Surgeon and Director of Pararescue, training the divers who rescued the Apollo astronauts after their water landings. Dr. Buckley said, “I view my time spent working with USAF Parasrescue during the Vietnam War as the pinnacle of my career. It brought me in close contact with a group of persons who would willingly give their all – including their lives, if necessary – to rescue and then care for person(s) in need of their highly skilled services.” He had other assignments for the government during his military career, including work in the intelligence community. His last military assignment was Chairman of the Division of Surgery at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center.
After leaving the military, Dr. Buckley set up private practice in San Antonio, where he was affiliated with the University of Texas Health Science Center. After 15 years in San Antonio, he joined the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System and Baylor Scott and White Health in Temple, Texas, serving as Executive Vice Chairman of the Department of Surgery and Director of the Division of Vascular Surgery at Scott & White Hospital among other administrative duties. He was appointed Professor of Surgery at Texas A&M University Health Science Center School of Medicine.
It was at this time that Dr. Buckley’s passion for teaching and research was fully engaged. He was an early adopter of endovascular techniques, having trained with the pioneers of these techniques in the early 1990s. He and his trainees then went on to explore such topics as intravascular ultrasound, endovascular aneurysm repair, and carotid stenting. He authored over 70 peer-reviewed articles, 6 book chapters, and was Co-Guest Editor for Seminars in Vascular Surgery on 3 occasions.
In addition to receiving numerous awards and honors, Dr. Buckley was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a Distinguished Fellow of the Society for Vascular Surgery, Past President of the Texas Vascular and Endovascular Surgery Society, and a member and Past President of the Texas Surgical Society, to name but a few of the organizations with which he was involved. He served as ISEVS President from 2015 to 2017 and assumed the position of Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Endovascular Therapy (JEVT) in February 2017 after the death of his long-time friend and colleague Dr. Edward B. Diethrich. His tenure as the ISEVS President was particularly significant for him, “Through my association with the International Society of Endovascular Specialists I have had the unique opportunity to lecture and operate in many countries around the world. These have been extremely gratifying experiences and in some cases have truly improved the level of care available to some local second and third-world population groups.”
Dr. Buckley practiced medicine for more than 55 years and vascular and endovascular surgery for over 45 years. As he said, “This is the sum of a lifetime of work, and I would not trade one moment of it to have done anything else.” Indeed, it was a fully lived life.
Dr. Buckley is survived by his wife, Shirley, and 3 daughters, 2 sons, 3 step-daughters, and 17 grandchildren. We have lost an extraordinarily talented physician and surgeon, an esteemed colleague, and a friend and mentor to many. We extend our condolences to his family.
The ISEVS Board of Directors, the JEVT Editorial Board, and Rebecca Bowman, JEVT Executive Editor