Old Scholars will be saddened to hear the news of the death of Lois Anne Buck (YG 1946), who died on 10th December 2021 in Colchester Hospital. She had suffered a severe stroke on 31st October, two days after her 92nd birthday. Lois was at Friends' School Saffron Walden between 1939 and 1946.
The following account of Lois' life is an edited combination of two eulogies written by her great niece, Emma and the Reverend, and words written by her nephew, Chris Trigg.
Lois grew up in Saffron Walden during the war. Her sister, Brenda Mary Trigg (née Buck, YG 1940) was less than 6 years older. Brenda was at Friends' School from 1935 to 1940. She served in the ATS from 1943-1946 before joining the police in 1946 until her marriage in 1949. She had her wedding reception at the Friends' School Assembly Hall. Lois' and Brenda's father, Louis Arthur Buck, had been injured at Ypres and suffered poor health ever after. He loved the theatre and was well-known locally in Saffron Walden as a very talented amateur dramatic player. He had a good singing voice and Lois’ love of Gilbert & Sullivan came from him. Lois said he achieved a great deal in his life.
Lois went to Friends’ School Saffron Walden like Brenda, as a weekly boarder. She was sporty and a tomboy, she said. She remembered playing basketball with American troops after they took over part of the school. Between 1951-6 she trained with Olympic hopefuls in sprints and the long jump, and remained interested in sport all her life. On leaving school she did considered going to a PE college in Loughborough, but life took a different turn.
Her father found her a job in the laboratory in a local hospital and that was the start of a very successful career. At one point, she discovered a new blood group and in time became a Fellow of the Institute of Medical Laboratory Technology, and also of the Institute of Biomedical Science. Over the years, she worked in hospitals in London, Brentwood and Colchester in the blood transfusion service, haematology and microbiology.
Lois’ father died when she was 26, and she lived with her mother for a time, until she found it too restrictive. She said her mother still expected her to be in by 10 pm! But she continued to keep an eye on her mother and support her, visiting at weekends.
Lois always enjoyed travelling. She and her friend Pat Ison had an exciting year in Canada: working for 6 months in a remote hospital in Port Arthur and then in Vancouver. At Port Arthur blood donors often had to be flown in by helicopter and you could hear brown bears raiding the bins at night. Surrounded by the timber trade and a nearby Indian reservation the humans were lively too! She and Pat travelled home via the US, Mexico and the Panama Canal.
Lois managed difficulties well – she once came home to find her bungalow in Great Bromley burning down and she ended up losing her personal papers and photos which she found devastating. But she got on with it and made a new home. Even when the problems with her eyesight made life difficult- and they did- she continued to embrace life with zest and joy.
Lois was registered blind after glaucoma and macular degeneration took most of her sight, but she moved into assisted living accommodation at Lancer House, Colchester in the height of the COVID lockdown in February 2021 and despite her sight problems was managing to get Alexa to voice activate TV, telephone calls and audiobooks.
Emma writes that Lois did take umbrage with Alexa being ‘disobedient’. However, they quickly realised that Lois was in fact using too many words when asking her to perform a task, saying: ‘Alexa, please could you call so and so thank you so very much’ rather than a curt ‘Alexa call Emma’.
Emma also writes that Lois always said she would be really mad to die. She used to say she wanted to know what happened in the world; she wanted to know what would happen with Brexit, with COVID, with climate change. She made Emma promise that if the Queen went first she would take her to London to pay her respects and so she could ‘tip her hat’.
Everyone in Lancer House knew Lois because of her infectious laugh and great humour. She was a lovely, lively lady and the photo (at the bottom of the page) of her on a carousel horse just typified her joie de vivre. She had a gift for friendship and her love of life, sense of fun and interest in everything going on around her, was infectious.