Veteran of the Week: Buck Falkner’s life of service
By PHOEBE DONALD ROBINSON / Community Columnist Phoebe Donald Robinson
Jefferson Dowell “Buck” Falkner was born on Feb. 25, 1921, and recently celebrated his 94th birthday.
He has lived in Columbiana for 92 of those years, moving to town when he was just 2.
Life was different in 1923 in Columbiana with no paved roads, no running water and no electric lights.
Falkner grew up in a family devoted to public service. His grandfather, James Jefferson Falkner, was elected sheriff of Shelby County from 1923-1927.
He was succeeded by his son and Buck’s father, Curtis Jefferson Falkner, who was only 26.
Falkner graduated from Shelby County High School in the Class of 1938, where he met the love of his life, sophomore Lorene Juzan.
Lorene and Buck were married on Dec. 24, 1941, during World War II.
Falkner was drafted in the Army Air Force and became an airplane mechanic.
He was trained in Gulf Port, Miss., Omaha and Baltimore on B-26s before going overseas where he served in Warrington, England.
Falkner was a Crew Chief who overhauled B-24, 25 and 26 engines.
He served in England from 1943-1945.
“We were told that this would be the end of all wars,” said Falkner. “We worked for 11 hours a days, 28 days straight, then 28 nights straight.”
After the war, Sgt. Falkner came home to Columbiana, where he became head of the Shelby County Farmer to Market Road Program and built roads all over Shelby County.
He was treasurer of Alabama National Gas Association for eight years.
Then the Falkners opened Eagle Department Store on Main Street. The mural of the store with Lorene and Buck graces Main Street today.
Today Falkner is in the real estate business.
Falkner was a Columbiana City Councilman for 20 years, city superintendent for eight years and mayor of Columbiana for eight years, 36 of his years devoted to Columbiana.
He served as the Columbiana Christmas Parade Grand Marshal in 2010 and was on the last Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. in 2012, where he went with daughter-in-law Janice Falkner, her father Joe McCormick and brother-in-law Jack Bradley who served in WWII.