Posted 2/3/21

Helen Moody Buckner died January 30, 2021, at home after a brief illness.

She was born Helen Jean Moody on May 29, 1927, in Chatham County to the late June S. and Lacy Watkins Moody. She …

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Helen Moody Buckner died January 30, 2021, at home after a brief illness.

She was born Helen Jean Moody on May 29, 1927, in Chatham County to the late June S. and Lacy Watkins Moody. She graduated from Woman’s College (now UNCG) with a degree in English, where she was a member of the Golden Chain Honor Society, served as a House President, a representative to Student Government and was elected to the May Court. Helen taught English and Spanish in Chatham County schools.

After her husband Dalton’s death in 1980, she took over as owner and operator of Smith & Buckner Funeral Home in Siler City. Helen was the first woman elected to the Siler City Town Board and served as Mayor Pro Tem and Commissioner for 21 years. She was recognized for protecting and expanding public parks, ensuring that town residents had safe places to walk, run and bike. The board renamed Boling Lane Park’s walking trail the “Helen M. Buckner Walking Track.”

She was past president of The Chatham Hospital Executive Board of Trustees and served on the Siler City Advisory Board of Directors of RBC Bank. Helen was the first woman president of the Siler City Chamber of Commerce and was honored with its Distinguished Citizen Award in 1988. In 1990, she received the Siler City Business and Professional Women’s Clubs Woman of the Year Award. In 2005, then-Commissioner Buckner received the Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award. Helen was a lifelong member of First Baptist Church in Siler City and served for many years as its assistant treasurer, not just because of her trustworthiness but also because the funeral home was located beside First Baptist.

Helen was active in many worthy organizations, including the Chatham County Library Board, the N.C. Regional Library Board, the Executive Board of the Occoneechee Council of Boys Scouts of America, the N.C. Museum of History Associates, the Siler City Garden Club and the Community Penalties Programs for Orange and Chatham counties. Helen advocated for the emerging N.C. Arts Incubator and was excited about its impact on the revitalization of downtown Siler City.

Helen was a valued civic servant, but more important, a beloved wife, sister, mother, grandmother and mother-in-law. She was preceded in death by the love of her life, Dalton Keith Buckner Sr., her sisters, Sylvia Doris Moody, Lydia Ann Moody, and her parents.

Surviving are her son, Dalton Keith Buckner Jr., wife, Gwen Hunnicutt of Summerfield, N.C., and his daughters Kathryn Grainger Buckner of Charlotte and Anna Dalton Buckner of Valle Crucis and fiancé Anders Ethan Sjöstrand; son, Joseph Moody Buckner, wife Julia, and their children, Eva Helen Buckner, Zane Dalton Buckner and Nell Rose Buckner of Chapel Hill; her daughter, Sylvia Buckner Ramer, husband Kevin of Chapel Hill, and their sons, John Dalton Ramer of Arlington, Virginia, and Keith Talbott Ramer of Chapel Hill; and special niece, Cindy Vestal Belton of Greensboro. She dearly valued her friends from her personal and professional life.

Due to COVID-19, the family will hold a private burial. They plan to honor her life at a future date.

The family extends deep gratitude to Dr. Whitman Reardon, UNC Hospice and the loving medical staff who helped care for her at home in her final days.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Helen’s memory can be made to First Baptist Church, 314 N. Second Ave., Siler City, N.C. 27344, or the Food Bank of North Carolina.


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