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Frank M. "Buck" Artz

June 27, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Frank Mason "Buck" Artz, who died June 18 at the age of 82. His obituary was published in the June 19 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Born and raised on a farm in Funkstown, Frank "Buck" Artz decided in his youth he would try to parlay his love for baseball into a career.

His son, Ragan Artz, said his father, whom he called Buck, played for the Funkstown baseball team and was scouted by the farm team of the St. Louis Browns, who became the Baltimore Orioles in 1954.

But after a short stint with the Browns, Buck came back home to the farm when he discovered baseball didn't pay enough to live on.


"He was also in love," said his son, Derek Artz.

Buck and Sally Lou Slaydon had known each other since they were teenagers. That was when her family moved in next door to the Artz family.

After they married in 1950, Sally did her best to adapt to the role of a farmer's wife. But as Derek pointed out, she didn't always like it.

"Mom would can and freeze, even though she didn't like it," Derek said. "She didn't like it then and still doesn't like it, but she still does it."

Sally said life with Buck took some getting used to, but she learned to adapt.

"With him being a farmer, he always wanted his food fried in lard in iron skillets," she said.

Over the years, Sally nudged Buck to try healthier eating, actually switching him to canola oil at one point, she said.

In their 59-year union, Buck and Sally worked together on their own 213-acre farm on Rench Road. Their marriage also produced four children -- Denese, Frank Jr., Derek and Ragan.

"I wasn't crazy about the farm work, but we did other things, too," Sally said.

Over the years, she and Buck participated in three square dancing clubs, and remained best friends with many of those people.

A Civil War buff, Buck "loaned" his farm out for the 1997 and 2002 re-enactments of the Battle of Antietam.

Frank Jr.'s wife, Teresa, said she remembers people visiting from Illinois, and Buck went on and on about Civil War history while they were here.

Though Buck wasn't a very demonstrative person by anyone's account, he still managed to let his loved ones know how much he cared about them ... in his own way.

"My dad and I were two different kinds of fathers," Ragan said. "But he taught me valuable lessons I'll pass on."

Frank Jr. credited his father with teaching him how to play baseball as well as how to perform well in a tractor-pulling contest.

Together, they obtained an antique Minneapolis Moline tractor, which Buck used to ride and Frank Jr. still owns today.

Known for his stoic demeanor, Buck rarely showed his feelings in his facial expressions.

"I never heard Buck laugh out loud," Sally said. "A little chuckle, maybe."

Denese, the oldest of the four children, described her father as a very hard worker.

"We had dairy cows, which means dad was up early, then in the fields at midday and back to milk at night," she said.

Family outings had to be day trips so Buck could be back in time for the evening milking, Denese said.

Though all four Artz children had their chores on the farm when they were living there, not all of them followed in their father's chosen vocation.

"I work as a machinist and a farmer," Derek said. "I like them both."

Ragan is employed by Allegheny Power, which was known as Potomac Edison when he began there right out of high school. But he hastened to add once he was home, he worked on the farm, too.

The Sunday before Buck died, the family arranged to have members of a tractor club he belonged to come out to the farm and spend the day with him.

"Buck had a really great day," Derek said, noting the family was glad they didn't wait until it was too late for him to enjoy that visit.

On a recent morning just after Buck's passing, Sally said she telephoned her children to talk with them. Then, she thought she'd better call Buck, too.

"And then, I remembered," she said in a hushed tone.

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