I was sad to learn of the passing of Carl “Popeye” Buchanan last week. He worked for the Salem Department of Parks and Recreation for over 20 years, mostly at the James I. Moyer Complex.
“It’s a big loss,” said Salem Director of Parks and Recreation John Shaner. “Everyone loved Popeye. He would sit by the front gate of the complex and greet every person that came in, and he always had some great one-liners.”
Carl was a big Salem High football fan who rarely missed a game, home or away. He was honored by being chosen to “top the L” at a game in 2010, and he was thrilled to be recognized. That was a Salem tradition to recognize outstanding citizens prior to the home football games, standing atop the “L” as the Spartan band spelled out “Salem.”
Former Parks and Rec. Director Charlie Hammersley hired Popeye and has fond memories of him. He was a good worker and got along with everyone.
“It didn’t take him long to mesh with that crew at Moyer,” said Hammersley. “Every year we had a Christmas luncheon for all our employees and Popeye would come by the office to remind the secretary that if I couldn’t make it, make sure somebody brought my credit card to pay for the lunch.”
I always enjoyed seeing him at the complex. One time, years ago, I was getting ready to take a picture and when I held the camera up I realized the lens cap was still on. He was standing near me and noticed and had a good laugh. From that time on, every single time he saw me, he would say, “now don’t forget to take the lens cap off that camera.”
Popeye was the kind of guy that made Salem great and we’ll miss him dearly.