James E. Buckley, 71, of Chestnut Hill, a fine arts appraiser and auctioneer, died Sept 3 of pneumonia at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital following treatment for pancreatic cancer.
When he retired in 2014, Mr. Buckley was executive director and vice president of fine arts at Freeman/Fine Arts, an auction house in Philadelphia.
The Freeman/Fine Arts firm was the result of a merger in 1988 of Samuel T. Freeman & Co., at 1808 Chestnut St., and the Fine Arts Co. of Philadelphia, at 2317 Chestnut St., a company that Mr. Buckley had helped to manage. For both firms he served as a general appraiser and auctioneer and mentored new auctioneers.
As executive vice president, he was instrumental in making Freeman/Fines Arts a major force in the auction world.
Born in Chicago, he was a graduate of South Shore High School and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Cleveland Institute of Technology.
He served in the Air Force and was an illustrator for the military police at the Oscoda, Mich., Air Force base.
Mr. Buckley had worked for a time as a disk jockey at WCGM radio in Gulfport, Miss., and moved in 1972 to Philadelphia, where he joined Samuel T. Freeman & Co. as an apprentice.
He enjoyed traveling in Europe by car, collecting fine art, American jazz, movies of the ’30s and ’40s, and fine food in unpretentious restaurants.
He is survived by his wife of 43 years, the former Sheila Margaret Sutton; a son, Philip, and a brother, Arthur, of Chicago.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, 8000 St. Martin’s Lane in Chestnut Hill. A reception will follow in the parish hall. Burial is private.
Memorial donations may be made to the James E. Buckley Memorial Scholarship, 56 W. Willow Grove Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19118. – WF