Eleanor Gilford Buker, a long-time supporter of the Coast Guard Foundation, passed away this month at the age of 99.
Mrs. Buker enlisted in the Coast Guard as a SPAR during World War II, and served from 1943-1946. During her time in the Coast Guard, she served in the research department at headquarters in Washington, D.C. and was honorably discharged at the end of the war with the rank of Chief Petty Officer.
Returning to Danvers, Massachusetts, she married Melvin W. Buker in November 1946 and had two children. They were members of Maple Street Congregational Church and participated in many church activities. She took an active role in her children's pursuits, serving as a Girl Scout leader and attending sports events and musical performances. When her children were older, she worked at Suburban Quality Shop and managed the church's thrift shop.
In retirement, she traveled with her local senior center and was an active volunteer with the Northshore Music Theater company.
In the summer of 2005, she and her son, Bill Buker, visited Coast Guard Headquarters where she was surprised with a birthday cake and ceremony for her 85th birthday.
Vice Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara, USCG, (Ret.), recalled meeting Mrs. Buker at the Headquarters event. In a quote to the U.S. Coast Guard’s District One public affairs team, Admiral Brice-O’Hara remarked:
"Like so many of that generation, Eleanor was a real patriot. She was especially proud of the Coast Guard and her impact, allowing the men to forward deploy while the women competently got the job done in the wide variety of areas they served. Eleanor was sharp as a tack, gracious, had a beautiful smile while talking about her experiences in uniform, and always remained thankful for the opportunity to serve the nation."
The Buker family supported the Coast Guard Foundation through an endowed scholarship fund for Coast Guard children enrolled in college and studying for their bachelor’s degree.
The Coast Guard Foundation Eleanor Gilford Scholarship was awarded for the first time in 2019.
Taylor Santti, the inaugural recipient of the award, is the daughter of retired Chief Petty Officer Norman Santti. She's enrolled in her senior year at the University of New Hampshire, where she's a double major in education and human development and family studies. Upon graduation, she plans to enroll in a master's program in education, with the ultimate goal of being a kindergarten teacher.
“We are truly honored to award the Eleanor Gilford Scholarship this year,” said Susan Ludwig, Coast Guard Foundation president. “Eleanor and her family are leaving a lasting legacy of support that will help Coast Guard kids like Taylor Santti, and many more to come, graduate from college and achieve their goals.”