Gamble Funeral Service

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James Johnson Buchman, Sr. passed away on May 10, 2022 from pancreatic cancer. He was born on April 15, 1933 to Vernon Leslie Buchman and Ruth Hughes Buchman in Memphis, TN. After attending high school at Columbia Military Academy, he graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1956, after marrying Susan Warner Thomas of Nashville, TN in 1955. He attended the University of Tennessee School of Business Administration in 1957, and shortly thereafter began work for AT&T in Chicago, IL. He accepted the position of Plant Engineer with Neil Mingledorf at Savannah Machine and Foundry in 1958. After 10 years there, he started his own business, becoming one of the charter merchants of the new Oglethorpe Mall, opening a franchise of a friend’s Memphis store, The Shop of John Simmons, which two years later became The Briar Patch. He married Marita Tolle Kenner in 1979, and together, he and Mari, grew the business to 42 locations in seven states, and sold the stores to Kirkland’s in 1998.

Jim was active in professional, community and social organizations. He was very proud of being one of ten Eagle Scouts in the family, along with sons Vernon and Jim, and grandson James. He served as the President of the Coastal Empire Council, on the National Board of Directors of Boy Scouts of America, the National Eagle Scout Assn., and earned the Silver Beaver Award for Lifetime Service.

He was President, Chairman or Director of many local service organizations including Civitan and Rotary Club of Savannah, Oglethorpe Mall Merchants Assn., Chatham County Hospital Authority, Savannah Mental Health Assn., Savannah Chamber of Commerce, Salvation Army Development Committee, Chatham-Savannah Consolidation Charter Committee (with friend General Bill Taylor), Univ. of GA Armstrong Research Institute, Savannah Country Day School, Leadership Savannah, and the State Bar of Georgia Disciplinary Board, serving as well as President or board member for several other corporations. He also served as President of Chatham Tennis Club, the Cotillion Club of Savannah, German Heritage Society, and was the oldest living Commodore of Savannah Yacht Club. He was also a member of the Oglethorpe Club, Chatham Club and the German Friendly Society.

When he wasn’t working, Jim’s erstwhile-architectural aspirations led him to build or remodel five homes. He cherished time spent in his workshop, where he and his children built bird houses, beds and other furniture, and even a go-cart from scratch. He loved gardening, and he and Mari once dug all 1,400 holes for a home landscaping remodel. He also enjoyed spending time with his friends and family playing tennis, bird hunting, and boating, and earned his private pilot and instruments rating licenses which he used for both business and pleasure.

Having traveled for pleasure very little until he retired, he and Mari, a travel veteran, indulged their passion for exploring other world cultures by taking several trips a year to some remote and adventurous locales. His passion for travel may have been ignited in his teens on a South American trip with his father, where upon returning from a hike in the Peruvian Andes, he surprised his dad with a shrunken head obtained in a trade with a local he met on the trail. Feeling fortunate not to have become a ceremonial adornment himself, he and Mari have relished their travels together, occasionally tempting fate in their choices of destinations such as Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Laos, Tibet, the Galápagos Islands, India, Iraq and Iran, over the last 30 years, as their many carousels of slides and DVDs will attest.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Virginia Buchman Smith, and brothers, Bruce Vernon Buchman, Leslie Hughes Buchman, and his beloved canines, Spot, Brandy, Sandy and Beauty.

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Marita Tolle Kenner Buchman; four sons and two daughters, Vernon Buchman (Rebecca), James Buchman, Jr. (Anne), Bruce Kenner (Allison), Kristine Ruesch (Andre′), Jennifer Conneff (Tom) and Erik Kenner (Salima), and 12 grandchildren.

The family will receive friends from 4 until 6 o’clock Sunday afternoon, May 15, 2022, at Gamble Funeral Service – 410 Stephenson Avenue.

The funeral service will be held at 3:30 Monday afternoon, May 16, 2022, at the graveside, Bonaventure Cemetery, with the Reverend Dr. Drew Corbett officiating.

A reception will follow at 5 o’clock at Savannah Yacht Club.

Memorials or remembrances may be made to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, or The Salvation Army.

Online Condolences

  1. Rhett Mouchet says:

    So sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. He was a great person and I very much respected him. Loved hearing about his many travels and adventure stories years ago.
    Sincere condolences to his wife, Mari and family.
    Rhett Mouchet

  2. Daniel Pruitt says:

    Jim was a Good Friend & a Wonderful person….Our condolences to his Family Dan & Jane Pruitt

  3. DICK MASON says:
    May 16, 2022
    Mari, Shirley and I are so sorry to hear about Jim’s passing. You and Jim were my favorite customers to many years ago and looked forward working with you and Jim. We would love to see you sometime, maybe coffee.
    Sincere condolences to you and family.
    Dick and Shirley Mason

  4. Sprague and Jane Exley says:

    Mari, Jane and I were distressed to hear of JIm’s passing. He was such a good friend for many years. I so respected his acumen and success in business. Friday lunches with him were a real treat. We will miss him greatly.
    Jane and Sprague Exley

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