By Georgene Brazer, local columnist.
This is a story about a man, his love of family, the family that shaped him through education and involvement in the history around him, history given to him where he lives, history that he absorbed.
The story of an entrepreneur who started that entrepreneurial journey cutting and selling wood, a man of kindness who buried peoples animals to help them with their sadness and grief in a safe place, his farm.
As we sat down to talk the first thing I noticed was his wonderful eye contact.
There was a calmness and a readiness to talk.
He had stories to tell of a life well lived and had a willingness to share it. He is a raconteur par excellence.
Buck Meeks is a Bryan County native. History lives deeply within him and much of his feelings and knowledge of it were nurtured by his parents.
Buck explained his philosophy “a teacher is an actor. I came from a long line of teachers, gifted teachers…four generations, 170 years of gifted teachers”.
When he was a curator at the Fort Stewart Museum he had his stage, a one man show. He served as a teacher and an actor to impart his information, his sense of heritage and history, to each guest so that they would leave loving what he told them, enriched. “I live this discipline.
There is a constant undercurrent between heritage and history. Heritage is how one feels about those facts, history is the facts”.
Shown and taught by his parents, sharing his love of history and knowledge of a myriad of things, a renaissance man. Boy Scout, Georgia 4-H, tennis, track, character actor, Georgia Film Academy, Stables (Chimney Field). An outdoor man, shooting sports, hunting, an ordained minister. He learned to cook watching his mother and receiving her wonderful recipes. He would then study the ingredients and invent…yet another creative outlet.
He acquired his love of working with people and teaching them life stories from his mother, Frances Meeks, the first lady of education in Richmond Hill.
Buck said, “mother was a force of nature, a quality woman. I learned to understand and respect strong women and value them from her example”.
His father, Walter, played the guitar, was in the Army, taught him about life with exposure to important thoughts and elements of his world that he imparted to Buck.
“Do a good job, be the guy people want to work with. When a reputation grows so does success. Grow for others.”
His parents took him and his brother John to museums and historic sites. Disney World was not in “their vocabulary of places to go.”
I asked Buck how he would describe his parents. Without hesitation he replied, ”They were thinking people who wanted to raise thinking children”. For the family household culture was reading books, a ubiquitous gift. To this day Buck has no television. A graduate of Armstrong University, he was a political science major who “worked with gifted professors at a time when enrollment numbers were low creating an incredible learning experience. I was privileged to attend at that time”.
Buck retired as Museum Director for the Third Division Museum at Fort Stewart in 2016, a position he held since 1997. During his time in his position as a curator, he went to Iraq where he collected and documented artifacts from battlefields, primarily from Baghdad. Retired but not finished. His next step was film.
Film became another part, a natural one, of his evolution. The first film shot at Myrtle Grove was an historical story about the Civil War, “Glory”, starring Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington and Matthew Broderick.
“Glory” is considered the most historically accurate and perhaps the most powerful movie ever made about that war, the first feature film about the role of Black soldiers in the Civil War.
An historical film shot at an historical house and property, his home.
Known as Folly Farm by its prior owner, it was renamed Myrtle Grove, after the piece of property the house sits on. A name that predates the antebellum circa 1850’s home.
The land, Myrtle Grove, is named on maps, nautical charts, and geographical survey maps.
Glory, The General’s Daughter, Four Senses, Birth of a Nation, Siren, Emperor, Underground Railroad, Cricket’s Dance, Savannah Hauntings, Alice and more coming.
Few know of the activities at Myrtle Grove. He is proud of the business the location has produced. Tax revenues and small business growth in South Bryan County… motels, food, suppliers, labor, roles for extras here all because of Myrtle Grove and Buck Meeks’ tireless efforts. “Film people are good neighbors.
They use public and private lands responsibly”.
Hopefully, the film industry will continue to be good to Bryan County. The most movies, series, etc are made in Georgia, more than anywhere else in the United States.
Buck’s property, antique house, sets he has permanently created and land that is easily accessible for major equipment, sometimes hundreds of vehicles, helps to bring the film world back again and again helping our local business to thrive and keeping Bryan County on the map as a good place to grow the film business. “Communication translates into a lot of different aspects of my life.” He spoke clearly and softly as he told me it helped him as a single dad to be an effective advocate for his children. He said it helps him speak eloquently to inspire change. And he emphasized that communication lets him feel passion about history, film, even his John Deere tractors. History is his story, the museum his muse. A deep man, a good man whose concern is helping others and helping Bryan County shine.
Thank you Buck for being you and sharing that self with others.