Doctor Buck writing career memoirs

By Mary K. Hamner
Journal Correspondent

"He Leads Me Oh blessed thought," by Buck Donaldson Jr., pending publication, tells the story of one man's journey of faith. "I have been working on my autobiography for a full year, writing and rewriting!" he said. Eighty- four year-old Donaldson begins the story with his life in North Louisiana as the son of a small town doctor. He then goes on to carry the reader along on his journey around the world after he joined the U. S. Navy at age seventeen. He served in World War II as a radio operator, signalman, gunner, and yeoman on merchant ships in the Pacific Islands.

Rev. Buck, a Baptist minister, speaks of his call to the ministry while a student at LSU, his marriage to Barbara, a medical doctor, and their years of service on the mission field. They now live in Dandridge, Tennessee where they continue their work.

Buck Donaldson, Jr. was born in New Verda, Louisiana in 1925. "Even though I was born in New Verda and have since lived in many different places, I have always claimed Castor as my hometown," he said. "Where ever else you were...if not in were away from home!"

Dr. Buck Donaldson, Sr. first appeared in North Louisiana at age 32 in Goldonna, Louisiana. After he had graduated from the University of Alabama School of Medicine, he moved to Louisiana and was granted a Certificate to practice medicine by the State Board of Examiners of New Orleans. Dr. Donaldson met Freddie Mae Moore in Goldonna, and they married and began raising their family. Four Donaldson children were born in Goldonna after their marriage in 1910, Rowena, Rae, Rubie, and Raymond. In 1925, the Doctor moved his family to New Verda, located in Grant Parish. Three years later, Dr. Buck Donaldson Sr. and his large family, including three year old baby Buck, Jr., moved to a new home in Castor.

"Dad must have given much thought to changing the location of his medical practice. Finding a family residence must have been his greatest concern. Amazingly, this was accomplished through his acquaintance with a man from the years of living in Goldonna. Mr. Chandler controlled one business operation on the shores of Black Lake at a location known as Creston. He also owned a large house on a sandy road about one mile from Castor's town center. The house happened to be available."

"In 1928, Castor had a town center," Donaldson continues. "Five stores handled groceries and general merchandise. Two gasoline stations were active. A bank and a cotton gin were prominent and along with these businesses came a boarding house, a barber shop, a beauty parlor, and a patent medicine drug store. A Baptist Church and a Methodist Church were active on opposite sides of town. Of major importance, the Castor School Building could be seen from the center of town."

By the time the Donaldson Family moved into a newly built home within the Village limits, Dr. Donaldson's medical practice had achieved a good level of success. Dr. Bond, who had previously practiced medicine in the town, had apparently made a complete change of location. Donaldson had set up his medical office in the rear of Andy Norman's Drug Store.

1934 - 1935 became the year of great change for the Donaldson's. The family had settled in to Castor's community and church activity with all five children in school. Buck Jr. was in the 4th grade. " Problems had arisen throughout America and all over the world. The word "Depression" described a condition of financial disaster for millions of people. Small town and rural residents, especially farmers, had hardly any money with which to pay medical expenses. Dad's income became his most serious concern." Donaldson said.

"When the Castor State Bank closed, the Donaldson family experienced financial disaster in an extreme measure. Roena and Ruby by then had enrolled in Louisiana Normal College in Natchitoches, La. Ray and Raymond were attending LSU. All four of these Castor High School graduates had to return home, to Castor. No work, no school."

An opportunity opened for the Doctor at a lumber company housing community in LaCamp located in Vernon Parish near Alexandria, Louisiana. He accepted a small salaried medical practice caring for families of men employed by the Hilliar, Edwards, Fuller Lumber Company. Buck, Jr. chronicles well the adventures of his family across North Louisiana, as they experienced the changes of the times. The two-room school he attended at LaCamp was to him the finest elementary institution in the State of Louisiana. He experienced Flying Jennies and Rubber Band gun wars and experiences that young boys growing up in the North Louisiana Hill country never forget. The family moved again living in Simpson, Louisiana for a time.

"Depression came to pass, not to stay!" Buck Jr. writes. By early 1940, Dad had gained enough financial security to assure himself the return to our home in Castor would be possible. How great to be back home!" Donaldson writes. "The local population welcomed us. The Doctor was back! Dad made structural changes to our home and built a Doctor's office facing the street."

The story of Buck Donaldson, Jr. and his family takes the reader on a fascinating journey around the world and back. It is a painstaking work including his family history, his education in small town schools, and his love for his wife Barbara his partner for over fifty years. Dr. Barbara met Reverend Buck while they were still in school at LSU. "She practices and I preach!" Buck said. He had a gift for music at an early age and learned to play the piano and the clarinet. At seventeen, he could copy 20 words per minute of Morse Code, and by the end of the war he was teaching classes in it, because he could translate 45 words per minute. This natural proclivity he attributes to having always had an ear for music.

The rest of the story, including Rev. Buck and Dr. Barbara Donaldson's work as a doctor/missionary team including more than twenty years of service on the mission field in both East and West Africa will be worth waiting for. For more information on the Donaldson's access or the University of Tennessee Veteran's Oral History Project on their website.