In Memoriam
Buck Willhite

 

(June 17, 1937 - October 6, 2011)

Luthier-maker of guitars, dulcimers and some 300 harps. Buck's last passion was to make the shakuhachi. A tree stands proud, bamboo stands strong. The sound of nature's wind moves through their limbs. Taken by the hands of a master, the raw materials are molded into a vessel that carries music to the world.

In his final days, against all odds he would hobble out to his 'Shaki Hut' to work. His last flute will forever play but a single note as he never got to finish it. It was written by a friend, "He was a gift from heaven put on earth for us to appreciate. He changed our lives without speaking any words. It was like magic. It was simply by his example."

Buck was one of the folks I helped mentor in the shakuhachi making process. My interaction with him blossomed into a sincere friendship. What character the man had, and what a character he was. Both Buck and I can be accused of having a sense of humor and relying on it when the going gets tough. We shared a laugh or two while exploring the inscrutable process of hacking out a shakuhachi or two that actually works. I will certainly miss the give and take of our email & phone exchanges.