Debra Buker (1953–2020)

May 28, 2020


Debra J. Buker, former editor of a Perrysburg, Ohio, weekly newspaper and former director of the city’s summer recreation program, who was respected as a volunteer leader of community groups and causes, died April 15 in St. Luke’s Hospital, Maumee. She was 66.

She had breast cancer in the late 1990s and, since 2016, had been dealing with a recurrence, her husband, Les Buker, said.

Throughout, she stayed busy and got involved at Zoar Lutheran Church and with clubs and organizations. “She tried to take all the internal energy and direct it toward good,” her husband said.

Debra became editor of the Perrysburg Messenger-Journal in 2003. She retired as editor at the end of August 2018 but stayed on to help for about 10 hours a week through June 2019.

Her role included being involved with the community — she was doing that anyway — but also covering every city council and school board meeting, plus making sure deeds of note by students and residents got ink. She’d been a writer and proof–reader for the paper since 1998, and she had a marketing background, her husband said.

“There was a connection between her and the paper and the community that gave her a tremendous amount of job satisfaction,” her husband said.

Buker could paint a picture in words that benefited the community, said Tom Hosler, superintendent of Perrysburg schools.

For a decade in the 1990s and early 2000s, Buker was the city’s summer recreation director.

She was chair for Perrysburg’s bicentennial celebration in 2016 and the 2017 Perrysburg and Maumee Walleye Fest. She was chair for several editions of the American Cancer Society’s “Red, White and Bark for Life,” a fundraiser featuring a mile-long walk for humans and canine companions — which allowed her to remember her supportive chocolate lab, Gillian, from years earlier.

“She was a good organizer and was a stickler for details,” her husband said. “She was good at getting people to work together for a common goal, the common good.”

She served on the board of what is now Downtown Perrysburg Inc. and was active with the Perrysburg Area Chamber of Commerce. She was a former vice president of the Exchange Club and received its 2011 Book of Golden Deeds Award. From the League of Women Voters, she received the 2014 Virginia Secor Stranahan Citizenship Award.

She was born Oct. 30, 1953, in Menominee, Michigan, and grew up across the river in Marinette, Wisconsin. She received an associate degree in marketing from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay.

Surviving are her husband, Leslie J. Buker, whom she married Sept. 2, 1978; daughter, Kerry Schnee; son, Scott Buker; mother, Stella Norton; sister, Patricia Miller, and three grandchildren.

A celebration of life will be held later. Arrangements are by Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg.