In the “never too old to” department, Wesley Village resident, the Rev. Leonard Buxton, just published his first book at age 89 — the first in a three-part series. He said the inspiration for the book, a memoir he calls “This is my Story, This is my Song,” came from his young grandchildren during a camping trip 12 years ago in a New Hampshire state forest.
“I was telling stories and my grandchildren said, ‘you’ve got to write these stories down.’ I realized I should do that.” He said friends had also been ribbing him about writing a book for years.
The stories come from a wealth of life experiences as a professor at an African American college, a hospital administrator, an executive on the South Carolina Council on Human Relations, a singer and choirmaster, pastor of numerous parishes and founder of one. His first assignment was the First Evangelical Church on Dana Street in Wilkes-Barre. Later, he and the Rev. Jim Herring founded the Albright United Methodist Church in Wilkes-Barre.
He was born in Ephrata, lived in Allentown and Harrisburg and in a log house at Lake Wallenpaupack. He graduated from Albright College and went to Boston University for theology, where he met his wife, Loretta, the daughter of the president of Dakota Wesleyan University. They married in 1957 and live together at Wesley Village in Jenkins Twp. They have three sons and four grandchildren.
Nine years after those grandchildren told Buxton to write his stories, he started this book series, which follows his life chronologically. He worked an hour in the morning and four in the afternoon, almost every day for three years.
“Writing, rewriting and rewriting,” he said.
Three editors at Canadian publisher FriesenPress held his hand through the process.
“It was quite a journey,” he said.
Asked to relate one story from the book, he talked about family friend South Dakota Sen. George McGovern, who ran for president against Ronald Regan in 1984. In 1965, Buxton and his wife were on their way to a Sane Nuclear Policy event at the Waldorf in New York City when a blackout killed power from Canada to Pennsylvania.
“Waldorf had candles going and there were hundreds of people sitting in the lobby chairs and on the floor and here we were sitting on the stairs to the second floor ballroom talking to George and his wife, Eleanor, and the baby doctor Benjamin Spock, who was the speaker.”
Buxton has three book signings this month. The first was Oct. 4, as part of Scranton’s First Friday. He also will host a book signing at the Partridge-Tippett lounge on the campus of Wesley Village from 3 to 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7, and will be at the Barnes and Noble at the Arena Hub Plaza from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19.