December 18, 2013 - One of Richard "Dick" Buechler's favorite things in life was soaring amongst the birds and the clouds in his airplane.
Buechler (click for larger version)
But no matter how high he climbed or how far he flew, he always landed back in Oxford, the place where he spent a lifetime loving his family, enriching the lives of his friends and running a successful business.
"He was just one of those people who was raised (here), had a great life, knew a lot of people and didn't want to leave," said his son, John Buechler, a 1974 Oxford High School graduate.
How fitting that Buechler drew his last breath in his Hovey St. home with his wife Laura by his side. He passed away in his sleep on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 at age 83.
"He was just an enjoyable person to be with," John said. "He was someone you could talk to and trust. He would do almost anything he could for you. He was a great dad and a good friend."
"He was a very, very kind man. He was always in good humor," said Laura, who was with Buechler for 28 years and married to him for 17.
Buechler, a 1949 OHS graduate, owned and operated Buechler & Sons, Inc, an Oxford-based machining and welding company founded by his father and uncles in 1927. He bought the business in the 1960s and sold it in the mid-1990s.
"He was an honest guy that gave you the best deal he could," said John, who worked at the company with his dad for more than 25 years and took over as president in the mid-1980s.
Over the years, Buechler's company grew from doing about $500,000 to $600,000 in sales annually to approximately $12 million per year in the 1990s.
It was Buechler & Sons' association with Sea Ray, which used to have a plant in Oxford, that helped it grow so much.
Buechler's company began testing, repairing and painting fuel tanks for the well-known boat manufacturer and eventually, began building the tanks and assorted stainless steel marine parts for Sea Ray as well as other manufacturers in the boating industry.
Buechler & Sons expanded beyond Oxford's borders by opening facilities in Florida and Cadillac, Michigan.
Always active in the community, Buechler was a member of the Oxford Chamber of Commerce, American Legion Post 108 and the Sebring Moose Lodge in Florida. He was a past president of the Rotary Club of Oxford and served on the Oxford Board of Education.
Although Buechler worked hard at building his family business and helping his community, he always made time to enjoy his passions and just have fun.
A musical man, he loved to play the cornett. He began with the OHS band, continued as part of the United States Marine Band and eventually found himself blowing notes with the Dixie Cats, a local group of amateur musicians who enjoyed performing together for fun and special occasions.
Buechler had a fascination with airplanes.
So much so that he encouraged his son John to take flying lessons as a teenager.
Eventually, Buechler would join his son and get his license in his early 50s. He became an instrument-rated pilot and loved flying his Beechcraft A36 Bonanza airplane for both business and pleasure.
"He made me learn to fly before I got my driver's license and after my mother (Bobbie) died, he needed something to fill his time, so I made him learn to fly – eye for an eye," John said.
Buechler patented an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) training visor to help pilots working to become instrument-rated. The visor restricts a pilot's vision to simulate clouds or low visibility weather, forcing him or her to rely solely on the aircraft's instruments to maneuver through the sky.
Around 1991, Buechler founded Michigan Aviation Products, Inc., which sells items exclusively to Sporty's Pilot Shop, a large internet-marketer of aviation supplies based in Batavia, Ohio. His wife Laura will continue to run the company.
When he wasn't winging his way through the wild blue yonder, Buechler was on a lush green golf course, almost always with friends Jim Sherman, Sr., Jerry Olrich, Bill Patterson, John Hubbard, Mickey Hiatt, Joe Phipps and Bill Sweeney.
He played in four golf leagues at the Oxford Hills Golf & Country Club and took many golf trips to northern Michigan and around the country.
"Last year, he was still playing in three golf leagues and the last shot he took on the 18th hole at Oxford Hills, he chipped it in the hole for a par," John said.
Buechler enjoyed spending time in Arizona and Florida, and taking drives to Las Vegas.
Buechler was the loving husband of Laura (nee Goodrich), of Oxford; beloved father of John (Libby) Buechler, of Oxford; Judy (Morris) Jewel, of Alpena; Cynthia Reinhard, of Canada; Cathy (Paul) Avers, of Illinois; William (Shelly) Buechler, of Port Huron; cherished grandfather of 21 and great-grandfather of 10; dear brother of Pat Tyrell, of Waterford. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Bobbie, and his son, Mark.
A celebration of Buechler's life will be held from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21 at the Oxford Hills Golf and Country Club (300 E. Drahner Rd.)
The family requests donations in Buechler's memory be made to either the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center or McLaren Hospice.
Arrangements were entrusted to the Oxford Chapel of Huntoon Funeral Home.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.