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Malden Police Chief (Ret.) Neil L. Buckley, of Wilmington, formerly a longtime Malden resident, at 84

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Popular former MPD Chief served in the 1980s and into the 1990s


Retired Malden Police Chief Neil L. Buckley, of Wilmington, formerly of Malden, passed away on August 16, 2023. He was 84.

Chief Buckley was born on July 30, 1939, in Malden, the cherished son of the late Cornelius H. and Eleanor M. (Miller) Buckley. Neil was raised and educated in Malden and lived here for over 30 years.

Neil met “the love of his life” Lillian (Principato) Buckley at a church youth organization while they were both in high school; it was “love at first sight” and the couple enjoyed over 41 years of marriage before Lillian’s passing in 2004. Neil and Lillian lived in Malden for several years before settling in Wilmington in 1975, where they raised their three children: Patty, Michael and Karin. Neil and Lillian provided a warm and loving home for their children and family. Christmas Day was a big tradition in the Buckley home; they hosted over 40 people each year, where everyone had a great time and lots of memories were made.

Chief Buckley started his long police career – over 30 years – at the Malden Police Department, following in his father’s footsteps. The Buckley family, including two uncles, served on the Police and Fire Departments, and Neil was fortunate enough to be able to work with his family. He started as a Patrolman and, with hard work and dedication to his job, he worked his way up the ranks, retiring as the Chief. Chief Buckley was very proud of his service to the City of Malden; he loved being part of the community by helping the citizens and enjoyed working with his fellow policemen.

Although he was proud of his distinguished career, he was even more proud of the family he and Lillian created. He was a devoted husband; he and Lillian loved to spend time together at their lake houses. They enjoyed nature, especially boating and water sports. The couple loved to travel; they took several cruises, including a memorable cruise to Alaska.

Chief Buckley and wife Lillian had a real sense of community in their adopted hometown of Wilmington; not only did they both work as public servants, but they also volunteered their time to make their community of Wilmington a better place. He served on the Planning Board in Wilmington for many years and volunteered at the Sons of Italy. Chief Buckley and Lillian enjoyed the fundraising events and the many friends they met through the group.

Chief Buckley served on the Army National Guard for many years. Possessing many talents, he was able to play the trumpet and the French horn in the Army band. In his younger years, he also played the instruments for a band in the North End. He loved music, especially marching music, and often played it while enjoying time with his family and friends.

Chief Buckley was the beloved husband of 41 years of the late Lillian M. (Principato) Buckley, devoted father of Patricia B. Hersey and her husband Jonathan of Newburyport, Michael J. Buckley & his wife Hasna of Venice Beach, Fla., and Karin Kennedy of Wilmington, loving “Pa” of Erin and Patrick Filetti, Nolan, Ethan and Kiera Kennedy, Lillian Buckley and Dan and Sarah Hersey. He was the cherished son of the late Cornelius H. and Eleanor M. (Miller) Buckley, dear brother of Kathleen Lane and her late husband Timothy Lane, Jr. of Melrose, formerly of Andover, Donald Buckley and his wife Eileen of Franklin and the late Robert Buckley, brother-in-law of John Principato of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., the late Marilyn Himmelsbach and the late Jeanne Shattuck. Neil is also survived by many loving nieces, nephews and friends.

Funeral arrangements were handled by the Nichols Funeral Home, 187 Middlesex Ave. (Rte. 62), Wilmington. Funeral services were held on Thursday, August 24 at the funeral home, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Thomas Church, 126 Middlesex Ave., Wilmington. Interment was in Wildwood Cemetery in Wilmington.

Memorial donations in Chief Buckley’s name may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 309 Waverly Oaks Rd., Waltham, MA 02452.

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