Frank Buck 1943-2024

DeKalb County has lost a longtime attorney and former state representative.

Frank Buck, 80 of Dowelltown passed away on January 24, 2024, at NHC HealthCare in Smithville, Tennessee.

For 36 years, Buck represented the 40th district including DeKalb County in the Tennessee General Assembly. He was first elected to the position in 1972 and re-elected every two years thereafter for a total of 18 terms until his retirement in 2008.

Buck and his wife Lena for many years have practiced law from their downtown Smithville office firm of Buck & Buck Attorneys

Frank was born on September 26, 1943 in Trousdale County, Tennessee; the second son of the late John and Georgia Buck. He graduated from Lebanon High School, Tennessee Technological University, and the University of Tennessee College of Law. While at TTU, he married his wife, Lena Ann Graves Buck in 1962. After law school, Frank settled in DeKalb County, joining the law firm owned by McAllen Foutch. Eventually, Frank formed his own practice which would ultimately become Buck & Buck Attorneys when his wife, Lena, joined the practice as a partner in 1991.

In 1972, Frank ran for the Tennessee General Assembly representing DeKalb, Cannon, Smith, and part of Rutherford counties. He would go on to represent District 40 for the next thirty-six (36) years in the General Assembly. While in the House, he served as Chairman of the House Judiciary and Conservation and Environment Committees; and Vice-Chair of the Transportation Committee. Frank introduced many bills which bettered the lives of Tennesseans, including but not limited to the Lemonade Stand Bill, precluding the Department of Health from requiring certificates of health from lemonade stands; the Cup of Coffee Bill, which restrained lobbyists from buying meals and paying for travel expenses for the General Assembly and forcing disclosure of such acts; and the Tennessee Interstate Logos bill, which allows businesses to post their logos on interstate signs for motorists. Reflecting on his retirement from the legislature, Frank said, “I’ve been here 33 years, and when I retire from this place and when I see my constituents on the street, I’d like to have their respect that I did a good job for them and that I was an honorable public servant.” The Tennessean, (April 25, 2005).

His many honors included being named in 2005 Tennessean of the Year by The Tennessean Newspaper for his work on ethics; Chairman of the Tennessee Judicial Council for four (4) years; elected a Fellow by the Tennessee Bar Foundation; and the Common Cause Award for his Cup of Coffee Bill.

Frank was revered for his sharp legal mind, lively personality, and plain speech. In later years, he enjoyed retelling many stories involving his family and pranks while in the legislature. Frank rarely abandoned his signature outfit: brown leather vest, khaki pants, and blue button-down shirt. He maintained a lifelong commitment to the legal community. He loved his family deeply and recounted his best memory as, “probably the children.”

Frank is survived by his wife of over sixty-one (61) years, Lena, and daughters, Kathryn Buck Pursell (Brice) of Dowelltown; Melinda Buck Brown (Chase) of Oak Ridge; Sara Buck Doude (John) of Milledgeville, Georgia; and Jennifer Buck of Dowelltown; six grandchildren, Frank Forrest Pursell (Taylor) of Crossville; Ann Pursell Williams (Timothy) of Liberty; William Pursell of Liberty; Emeline Brown Hébert (Luke) of Nashville; Ellie Brown of Nashville; and Lilah Brown of Oak Ridge; and two great grandchildren, Lena Pursell of Liberty and Caroline Pursell of Crossville.

Visitation is scheduled for Saturday, January 27, 2024 from 3:00 to 7:00 pm and Sunday, January 28, 2024 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. The Celebration of Life is scheduled for Sunday, January 28, 2024 at 2:00 pm. Burial will follow in DeKalb Memorial Gardens. All services and visitation are scheduled at Love Cantrell Funeral Home, 100 East Church Street, Smithville, Tennessee 37166.