Finding strength

A mother and her two sons were remembered for their dedication to their family, their love for each other and their faith.

Paul Buck, who lost his wife and two of his sons in a car accident last week, remembered a tradition he and his wife had when they were dating.

The two first met in 1986, reconnected after college and eventually got married 21 years ago.

When they were dating, Paul and Jill would call each other and let the phone ring once, then hang up, Paul Buck said. That single ring would signify that they were home safe after driving back from their date or going out with friends.

On Friday night, the day after the accident, Paul fell asleep and was awoken by a dream, he said. In the dream, he heard a phone ringing one time. The dream was a comfort during his time of grief, he said.

“What gives me hope is that through her faith in Jesus Christ, Jill and Aidan and Branson made it home safely,” Paul Buck said.

The Buck family and their friends shared memories Wednesday night of local optometrist Jill Buck and sons Branson and Aidan.

More than 500 friends, family members, teammates and classmates poured into the Community Church of Greenwood, with tissues in their hands. The sanctuary was packed before the service began, and an overflow room needed extra chairs to fit all the people paying their respects to Jill, Branson, 10, and Aidan, 8.

Paul and Jill’s children Grace, Olivia and P.J. thanked the community for the outpouring of support during their time of need.

Without their faith in God, they wouldn’t be able to get through this difficult time in their lives, Olivia Buck said.

“I just want to thank God,” Olivia Buck said. “I really feel like he’s carried us through all of this.”

Grace Buck was asked by her mother to stay home this summer, so she could take care of Aidan and Branson during summer break. It was God’s plan to have Grace staying with her family this summer, so they could make more memories together, she said.

She, Olivia, P.J., Aidan, Branson and baby Sophie, who was stillborn, made Jill a mother, Grace Buck said. She hopes to become the God-fearing woman her mother was, she said.

Family members read letters aloud at the memorial.

“These three people will be truly missed. I can’t wait to see you someday, Momma, A-Dog and B-Dog,” P.J. wrote in a letter read by his sister Grace.

Jill’s mother, Alice Pollert, was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and had written letters for her family to read after her death. Instead, Pollert read Jill, Branson and Aidan’s letters at the memorial.

“Thank you for the so many ways that you have enveloped me in love,” Pollert said in her letter to Jill.

Multiple people have asked Paul Buck how they can help the family, he said.

He listed three ways people can help: Send him photos or stories of Jill or his kids, invite a special needs child to a birthday party, and smile, as Branson, who was born with Down Syndrome, loved to do.

“I woke up this morning, and God had placed on my heart to use this unique opportunity to talk about kids with special needs,” Paul said.