End of an Era



There were political leaders and relatives, friends and neighbors, an old friend who sang his favorite hymns and a pastor who used many fitting descriptive adjectives of a great man in his homily. Tony Buco’s funeral at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church this morning was a fitting tribute and a sad final goodbye to a long time Highlands resident who touched the lives of the old, the young, and the in between.

His children and grandchildren had their own grief as well as happy memories and thoughts during the mass, but they were probably strengthened by the crowd who wanted to be there for the final prayers for Tony. Their participation in doing the readings, readings the family had selected themselves for the special meaning each had to Tony and all the Buccos, and carrying up the gifts at communion were more examples of a close knit family.

There were elected officials present for the mass, including State Senator Declan O’Scanlon and Highlands Mayor Carolyn Bouillon, officials who did not wan to be noticed, simply wanted to fit in with the crowd honoring a war hero, a local leader, a churchgoing father and grandfather. Former Councilman Chris Francy and former Police Chief Jim Davis were also there to pay their respects and share memories of Tony. Former Mayor Anna Little, also a former freeholder and now an Immigration judge in federal court, not only shared her respect for Tony, but shared her talent as an outstanding soprano, the crowd in hushed admiration at her renditions of so many of Tony’s favorite hymns, but most notably the Ave Maria and the Irish farewell.

But there was something else also special about this funeral. Carol McConnell Bucco, Tony’s wife for more than 50 years, died one year ago Wednesday. She was cremated after her funeral last year. That funeral was also at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, where the couple worshiped and raised their children. The family had kept Carol’s cremains in a safe and revered place until now. They then had Carol’s cremains at the visitation hours at the Day Funeral Home in Keyport, and placed in the casket with Tony before the mass this morning. So it was at Tony’s funeral that Carol was right there with him. And when the casket was lowered into the ground at the cemetery at St. Joseph’s Church in Keyport, the couple who had spent so many years of love, happiness and challenge together, were laid to rest in the same casket.

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