George A. Buskirk Jr., the national treasurer of The American Legion, passed away Oct. 8. He was 70 years old.
Buskirk, a member of American Legion Post 510 at Fort Benjamin Harrison, was appointed national treasurer on Sept. 10, 1998, during the 80th National Convention in New Orleans. The national treasurer serves as the chief financial officer of The American Legion, and is responsible for the custody and management of the assets of the organization.
“The American Legion lost more than a national treasurer today,” said American Legion National Commander Bill Oxford. “We lost a treasure. George A. Buskirk was the kindest of gentlemen. We will certainly miss his sound financial leadership, but we will mostly miss our time with this affable, decent and smart man.”
Past National Commander Jake Comer knew Buskirk for more than 20 years.
“There are so many things you can say about George,” Comer said. “George was an outstanding gentleman. He did his job well. He was a great Legionnaire. We will all miss him.”
Maj. Gen. Buskirk (ret.), Army National Guard, earned his eligibility for membership serving in the U.S. military from 1967 until 2005, of which he served from 1978 until 2005 in the Indiana National Guard.
“He served his country during the Vietnam War and rose through the ranks of the Indiana National Guard to become its adjutant general,” Oxford said. “His intellect was without question. A senior executive in the banking industry, we were fortunate to have this great Legionnaire as our national treasurer for 21 years. We were more fortunate to have known him. Our heartfelt condolences and prayers are extended to the Buskirk family. We shall miss him.”
Past National Commander Harold “Butch” Miller knew Buskirk but had not worked closely with him until their paths united with their appointments to national offices in 1980.
“When I took the position of national commander and he was the finance officer, then I got a chance to appreciate his financial prowess,” Miller said. “He was a very astute, very pleasant gentleman to work with.”
During Buskirk’s tenure, the nation’s economy had its share of highs and lows. Buskirk had an uncanny ability to forecast what would happen.
“George was very astute in knowing not only how to deal with the ups and downs but he was surprisingly adept at predicting how things would go, either up or down,” Miller said. “It was pleasant to be around him even when things he was telling you weren’t pleasant, like the market was heading down. Over the years, I gained a great deal of respect not only for his friendship but his passion for veterans and his business experience. He turned out to be a great friend and someone I will miss tremendously, especially his smiling face at our meetings and knowing that The American Legion financially was in good hands.”
American Legion National Finance Chairman Gaither Keener recalled Buskirk’s personable nature.
"A man's legacy can be defined by not only how he served his family, his friends and his business affiliations but by how he treated those who he came in contact with,” said Keener, of North Carolina. “Not only did George have a keen understanding of business and finances, he was genuine and gracious to all those he met, from a new American Legion member to those who have ascended the ranks."
Buskirk was not just a business associate, but a close friend of Keener’s.
"I will miss him dearly, not only for his grasp of economic realities but for his kindness, warmth and commitment to his family and his American Legion Family,” he said. "The general was a great American and a close friend of mine, a great attorney and a person who I trusted. I will surely miss his smile, dry wit, intelligence, his ‘patriot’ speeches, him drinking his Beefeater Gin and red wines, and his true friendship. George’s family and his housemate ‘Gracie’ (his dog) will miss him along with the rest of us.”
Ken Danilson served as National Finance Chairman from 1998 to 2015.
“George was a true friend, a thoughtful leader and dedicated Legionnaire,” said Danilson, of Iowa. “While his title conveyed the financial aspect of his job, it did not fully represent what he meant to The American Legion, his close friends and his loving family. We will all miss him. But we are better off having known George, learned from him and enjoyed his company. He was a true patriot and I will miss him dearly.”
Buskirk received a bachelor’s degree from Butler University in business administration in 1971, and his law degree from the Indiana University School of Law in 1975. He was a member of the American Bar Association, the Indiana State Bar Association and the Indianapolis Bar Association. In 1996, he served as president of the Indianapolis Bar Association.
American Legion National Adjutant Dan Wheeler praised Buskirk for his decades of service to America, the state of Indiana, veterans and others.
"We are all stunned at the loss of our national treasurer, George Buskirk,” Wheeler said. “His influence is of course well known within the American Legion Family. But it goes well beyond that. Gen. Buskirk's lifetime of service is hard to fathom. Nearly 40 years in the military. A board member for numerous organizations like the Boy Scouts, the Indiana War Memorial Commission and the American Red Cross. All of these organizations — but especially The American Legion — are better off because of George Buskirk."
In September 2015, Buskirk was honored when a street in Lawrence Township, Ind., was named after him. Buskirk Jr., and his father both served at Fort Benjamin Harrison before it became "a poster child" for a successful BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) transition. Buskirk Jr. noted that more than 50 commercial enterprises and hundreds of residences had sprouted up in recent years on the former DoD campus. Buskirk Drive was "one of the greatest honors of my life," he said at the ceremony.
Buskirk’s volunteerism included serving as a board member of the Ivy Tech Foundation, co-trustee of St. Mary's Charities Foundation, Inc., as well as being an officer with the Boy Scouts of America of Central Indiana, the Indiana War Memorial Commission and Foundation, the Day Nursery Foundation of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Humane Society, the American Red Cross of Central Indiana and the Indianapolis Veterans Day Council.
"Today is not a day for us to ask why,” Wheeler said. “It is a day for us to cherish the time we were honored to have had George in our lives. He will be missed greatly by his loving family, the community of veterans and all of those who make up the American Legion Family."
Buskirk, a native of Indianapolis, was the father of three children and five grandchildren.
Visitation will be Wednesday, Oct. 16, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Leppert Mortuaries-Nora, 740 East 86th St., Indianapolis, IN 46240. The funeral service will be held Thursday, Oct. 17, starting at 2 p.m. at Crown Hill Cemetery, Peace Chapel at the Community Mausoleum, 700 W. 38th St. in Indianapolis.