WILDWOOD CREST ─ Every swish of the net, crack of the bat and tackle on the field Jack Buchanan, 85, of Wildwood Crest knew as he coached for the Wildwood Crest Recreation Department.
Through the 1960s and 80s, Buchanan dedicated himself to young people on and off the field, character molding, good sportsmanship and life lessons.
Honored at the Aug. 9 Wildwood Commissioners' meeting, Buchanan said he "greatly appreciates" the award given in recognition of his service to the Wildwoods.
In a later phone interview, Buchanan gave a snapshot portrait of his life. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Buchanan recalled summers spent in Wildwood Crest where his family owned a summer home.
After graduating from college, Buchanan returned to the Crest, married, and worked full-time for the Cape May County Welfare Board.
"I worked for recreation part-time," Buchanan said. From baseball, basketball, and football, Buchanan coached and drove the young people to special events.
Buchanan helped form several local leaders, including Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano and Commissioner Peter Byron.
According to Buchanan, he and Troiano "go way back."
"Ernie is doing a great job," Buchanan said, referring to Troiano's position as mayor of the City of Wildwood.
Byron told the Herald Aug. 17, "If you look under the definition of genuine, nice guy, you would see Jack Buchanan's picture." According to Byron, Buchanan was instrumental in securing Byron's first job in the Crest Recreation Department in 1971.
"He (Buchanan) taught a lot of lessons about life," Byron said.
Crest Commissioner Joyce Gould also reminisced, recalling fond memories of Buchanan and wife, Gail, who served in the Crest Police Department.
"Everyone knew Jack," Gould said.
Today, Jack and Gail reside in Florida but decided to return to the Crest for a visit this summer. Buchanan's nephew, a current officer in the Crest Police Department, informed Buchanan of a bracket named for him.
"I thought that was the end of it," Buchanan said. Then, after being invited to the Aug. 9 commissioners' meeting, the City of Wildwood presented Buchanan with an award.
"I really appreciate it," Buchanan said simply. He is glad so many young people he coached grew up "to be responsible people" and assets to their communities.
"The Wildwoods are a wonderful place," Buchanan concluded. He wishes to return for another visit next summer.
To contact Rachel Rogish, email firstname.lastname@example.org.