We are saddened to announce that on February 18, 2017, Marianne (“Max”) Ida Sell Buckingham passed away peacefully in her sleep while in hospice care in the loving home of Kathleen Fellows in Perkinsville, Vermont. She would have turned 93 on Feburary 26th of this year, and still was so young at heart that such a thing feels impossible. She was predeceased by her husband — Eliot Buckingham, of Springfield, and her beloved elder sister, Cornelia Abelman of Waltham, Massachusetts. She is survived by four children: Lynn (Meins), Stephen, Christine (Rolland), and Glenn; six grandchildren: Stephanie Meins, Sonja Alves, Francois Rolland, Vanora Rolland, Sabrina Buckingham and Jirah Buckingham; and two great-grandchildren: Paulo and Heidi Alves.
Max was born on February 26, 1924 in Bad Godesburg, Germany — the younger daughter of Friedrich and Else Sell. She told the story many times of how she was born late and was never on time for anything else after. She emigrated to the United States with her family in 1938 as refugees fleeing the Nazis. After a few years in Belmont, Massachusetts, they settled in South Hadley, Massachusetts where her father was a professor at Mount Holyoke College — from which she graduated in 1946. On June 14, 1947 — the anniversary of her arrival in the United States — she married Eliot (“Bucky”) Buckingham. While the couple moved around between Connecticut, New Mexico, and finally settling down in Springfield, Vermont, their family grew with the arrivals of their four children.
“Max and Bucky,” as they were known, moved into an 18th century farmhouse on Parker Hill — which was promptly dubbed “Buckingham Palace.” The Palace set the scene for their life together: their children, the many foreign exchange students and guests they hosted over the years, their friends and family. The Palace was the site of events large and small in their lives — the sprawling backyard providing space for wedding receptions and family reunions as well as simply where you could always find Max & Bucky with a drink and a crossword puzzle on summer afternoons.
Max was passionate about international exchange and travel. She truly believed that many of the problems in the world would be solved if people would simply talk to each other beyond the barriers of culture or nationality. She visited her daughters in France and Germany frequently, and also took memorable trips to Sweden — when her nephew, Kenneth Wilson, won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1982 and Australia. Max was not an easy person to impress and after meeting Gabriel Garcia Marquez at the Nobel ceremony, declared that he was rather full of himself.
Max had a special soft spot in her heart for animals, having majored in zoology in college. She always had pets of one variety or another — usually dogs, though there were also cats and horses in the mix. She was also an avid reader and counted “All Creatures Great and Small” and “Misty of Chincoteague” as some of her favorite books well into adulthood. She loved to read and reread her favorite stories, the characters often became old friends. All the way until the end of her life, she had a book by her side.
Max was very active in her neighborhood and community, from baking bread for her neighbors to knitting hundreds of mis-matched mittens for the Santa Claus Club. She sang in the Springfield Community Chorus for many years and was a member of the Congregational Church. She was an avid supporter of arts and music, her radio always tuned in to VPR where she would always catch the opera of the week.
The lighthearted twinkle in her eye and her childlike grin will be missed, even if her cooking is not.