It was not really a secret that Mr. Buckley had been sick, on and off, for a long time. That friends managed to be surprised by his death, despite abundant evidence of its inevitability, was largely because of Mr. Buckley’s quiet way of getting on with it. Making tough things look easy was and is a Buckley-Ford family trait.
‘That’s the Guy’
Mr. Buckley was born in Binghamton, N.Y., in 1948. His father was in the military; his mother, Mr. Buckley said, was something of a narcissist, and “home” was constantly shifting. One year it was Germany, the next France, then back to the United States, where he was bullied in school because he wasn’t, as he later put it, “sporty or athletic.”
During college and afterward in graduate school, he dated women. Then, in the early 1970s, he came to terms with his gayness and onward he went.
Mr. Ford first spotted Mr. Buckley while attending a David Cameron fashion show in the fall of 1986. Mr. Buckley still worked at Fairchild. Mr. Ford was designing sportswear for Cathy Hardwick. Their eyes locked from across the runway, but they failed to make an introduction, Mr. Ford said through a spokeswoman. (Though he greenlit friends to speak for this article, he did not speak personally.)
Soon after, Mr. Buckley was on the roof of the Fairchild offices in New York, preparing for a fashion shoot with his colleague Dennis Freedman. Mr. Buckley told Mr. Freedman about this guy he’d just seen, when the elevator opened and out he walked, carrying Cathy Hardwick samples for them to shoot.
“That’s him,” Mr. Buckley said. “That’s the guy.”
They had their first date on Thanksgiving weekend. By New Year’s Eve, they’d moved in together.