Phillip L. “Buck” Preston

Published 3:44 pm Monday, January 28, 2013

Philip Lewis “Buck” Preston, born in Tryon in January of 1944, passed away in St. Luke’s Hospital on Jan. 26, 2013. 

From a family of educators, Buck was a 42-year English teacher who retired from Polk County High School. An elementary school experience that fuelled his desire to “escape,” culminated in boarding schools and ultimately graduation from the Darlington Prep School in Rome, Ga.

Buck graduated from Wofford College in l966, married Jean Paul and with a new son moved to Richmond, VA. to teach English at St. Christopher’s School for 10 years.  While in Richmond, Buck’s second son was born in l970 and at that same time Buck graduated with a master of arts from the University of Richmond in literature. He went on to become a white water rafting guide on the James River, taught outdoor education courses like Outward Bound, coached soccer and track, and had the pleasure to meet and share his class with a personal hero, author Tom Wolf.

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In l976 Buck returned to Tryon with his wife and two sons to teach English for 30 years.  During his tenure in Polk County, he headed the consolidated schools’ English department, instituted senior projects and started both men’s and women’s soccer programs. Buck later became ordained to officiate at a former student’s wedding.

He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Jean; sons, Philip (Catherine) of Atlanta, Ga. and John (Nikki) of Asheville; his older brothers, Mike (Jane) of Brevard and Dee (Joyce) of Tryon; three grandchildren and a slew of beloved nieces and nephews.

Buck was fiercely proud of the work he did in Polk County and enjoyed his co-workers and most especially the students he taught. He always believed in the capacity of a young person to reveal in their writing the coherence of a sometime chaotic world, to have a trust in the future and to hold close the sound of the rain: Sine Qua non as Caesar might have written, “without which (there is) nothing.”

Buck was a gentle man who loved peace and quiet, the solitude and meditation of fishing on the outer banks and we hope it is quiet for him in the great fishing grounds beyond.

An open invitation to celebrate a life well lived will be held 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 in the Holy Cross Episcopal Church, Tryon.

Memorials may be made to the Philip L. “Buck” Preston Scholarship Fund, C/O Polk County Schools, 125 E. Mills Street, Columbus, N.C. 28722, Attn: Aaron Greene.

An on-line guest register may be signed at