Judge William R. "Bucky" Buchanan Sr., who served as a district judge and as a circuit judge for Baltimore County, died Friday of pneumonia at the Blakehurst retirement community in Towson.
The former longtime Stoneleigh resident was 86.
The son of an automobile salesman and a homemaker, William Raymond Buchanan Sr. was born in Baltimore and raised in the 3500 block of Greenmount Ave. in Waverly.
After graduating in 1944 from Mount St. Joseph High School in Irvington, Judge Buchanan enlisted in the Army, where he served in Germany as a military policeman.
After graduating in 1953 from the University of Maryland Law School and passing the Maryland Bar, he began practicing law in Towson, where he specialized in insurance defense.
"He used to say when he started, Towson was so small there were only about 22 lawyers," said a son, John S. Buchanan of Cockeysville.
He was one of the original judges appointed in 1971 by Gov. Marvin Mandel to the newly created District Court of Maryland for Baltimore County, and five years later, Governor Mandel appointed him to the Circuit Court for Baltimore County.
In 1977, he was a member of the committee that wrote the first edition of "Maryland Pattern Jury Instructions — Civil," a book that is a source for judges and lawyers.
He retired in 1992.
Judge Buchanan had been an active member of the Maryland State Bar Association, Baltimore County Bar Association and American Bar Association.
"He was extremely conscientious with his decisions and took his job very seriously, but he did have a sense of humor," his son said. "One time, he was sitting in Denton and had a traffic case. The man came in wearing a ratty shirt, so my father waved the court costs and told the guy to take the money and buy a new shirt."
Judge Buchanan enjoyed Ocean City, where he had a second home and liked fishing and crabbing.
"Ocean City was his main passion," his son said, "which earned him the nickname of 'Reach the Beach Judge.' He'd tell lawyers that he was wrapping a case real fast on Fridays, for instance, so he could be on the Bay Bridge by noon."
Judge Buchanan moved from Wellington Road to Mays Chapel in 1979, and for the last six years had lived at Blakehurst.
His wife of 56 years, the former Ella Mae Norman, died in 2006.
Judge Buchanan was a communicant of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, 101 Church Lane, Cockeysville, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
In addition to his son, Judge Buchanan is survived by another son, William R. Buchanan Jr. of Bethany Beach, Del.; three daughters, Mary Helen Englehart of Churchville, Jane Watkins of Midland, Mich., and Carol Hicks of Raleigh, N.C.; 13 grandchildren; and a great-grandson.