In Memoriam: The Life of Dr. Cozetta White Buckley

October 11, 2012 in News, Obituaries, Top Stories

October 21, 1926 – October 7, 2012

The Mississippi Link Newswire

Charm is deceitful, and beauty empty, the woman who is wise is the one to praise. Give her a share in what her hands have worked for, and let her works tell her praises at the city gates. – Proverbs 31:30

This scripture accurately describes Dr. Cozetta White Buckley, an icon of beauty, wisdom, quick wit, generosity, diligence, hard work and compassion who was adored by her family, friends, community and fellow church members. A lifelong learner who worked tirelessly to inspire students from elementary school to college to set and achieve lofty goals, Buckley was also a community servant who gave countless hours of volunteer time to help make Jackson, a vibrant southern city.

Although she was born Elvie Cozette White to Herbert Robert and Bessie Hortense Lampley White Oct. 21, 1926, in Kemper County, Miss., Buckley dropped “Elvie” and changed the “e” at the end of “Cozette” to an “a” when she entered high school.

The fourth of five daughters, she was predeceased by her parents; her baby sister, Jewell, who died when she was15 months old; and her eldest sister, Azalea White Cephas, who died at age 96. Buckley cared for Azalea in the final eight years of her life.

Buckley completed her elementary school education at Liberty Elementary School in Kemper County and attended Harris High School in Meridian, Miss., where she graduated with honors in 1944.

Following graduation from high school, Buckley entered Jackson State College, where she received a degree in elementary education. She received the Master of Science in library science degree from Atlanta University, the Certificate of Advanced Studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana and the doctor of philosophy degree with a major in library science and a minor in higher education from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Further study was done at Mississippi College and the University of Pittsburgh.

Her professional career spanned 42 years as a public school teacher, librarian, college professor and administrator. Following a brief tenure at Lampton Vocational School in Marion County, she was employed by the public school systems of Leflore County, where she worked at Browning Elementary School and Balkin Vocational School, and the City of Jackson, where she worked at G. N. Smith Elementary School and Brinkley High School.

In 1967, she accepted a position at Jackson State University as department chairperson and assistant professor of library science. She later became the assistant dean of the School of Education and professor of library science. During her tenure at the University, she founded Alpha Phi Chapter of Alpha Beta Alpha, undergraduate fraternity in library science; Gamma Rho Chapter of Pi Lambda Theta Honorary and Professional Fraternity in education; and co-founded the School of Education Alumni Association.  She retired June 30, 1990.

Buckley gave generously of her time and resources as a volunteer in the community. A lifelong Methodist, she joined Central United Methodist Church in 1956 and served intermittently as a member of the choir, chair and member of various commissions and committees, church school teacher, president of the United Methodist Women, chair of the Council on Ministries, and lay leader.

Buckley was a charter member of numerous organizations, including the Opera South Guild, the National Alliance of Teacher Education Alumni, Inc. (of which she was co-founder) and the Jackson, MS Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.

Other areas of community involvement included memberships on the steering committee for the Mississippi Project on Teenage Homicides, the Margaret Walker Alexander Research Center Advisory Committee and the board of directors of Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center and the Bethlehem Center.

Her organizational skills were reflected in the 1985 revival of the Jackson Pan Hellenic Council, and the organization of the Coalition for the Enhancement of African American Males in 1991. She also devoted time to the March of Dimes Foundation; voter registration drives, and actively engaged in political campaigns. Buckley was a member of the Steering Committee of the Black Women’s Political Action Forum and chair of the organization’s awards committee.

Her involvement in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. began with initiation into the Beta Delta Omega Chapter in 1965. Since that time, she served as the chapter’s basileus and in most of the remaining leadership positions.

In addition, she chaired numerous committees, represented the chapter as a delegate at cluster meetings, regional conferences and Boules, and conducted workshops locally and at clusters.

In 1989, she was appointed to the Regional Awards Task Force to assist in the revision of criteria for the awards. She chaired the Regional Awards Committee in 1991.

Throughout her leadership in AKA, ongoing programs reflecting the national theme were continued, including scholarship programs for graduating high school students, Easter baskets for needy children and contributions to national and community organizations such as the United Negro College Fund, the National Council of Negro Women, the NAACP, the Jackson Urban League, Opera South Guild and the Smith Robertson Museum. Under Buckley’s leadership, the chapter furnished the entire Smith Robertson Museum auditorium.

Buckley’s administration was progressive and reflected her personal philosophy of service to humankind. Initiatives begun under her leadership resulted in the purchase of the sorority’s first local chapter headquarters in 2012.

For six years, Buckley chaired the Southern Area Conference for the Links, Incorporated, handling the planning for regional meetings.  In addition, she served as secretary and membership chair for the organization and played a vital role in the Links’ annual Beautillion.

Buckley’s professional memberships included the American Library Association, the American Association of School Librarians, the Southeastern Library Association, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the Jackson State University National Alumni Association.

Her honors included United Way’s Heart of Gold Award, Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Regional Operation Rose Award, the Community Service Award from the Jackson Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, the Jackson State University School of Education Service Award and the Lilly Foundation Post-Doctoral Teaching Award.

Buckley is survived by her husband of 64 years, Luther B. Buckley Sr.; her son, Luther B. Buckley Jr. (Aledria) of Apple Valley, Minn.; daughter, Barbara B. Washington of Atlanta, Ga.; sisters, Marjorie W. Cole of Jackson, Miss., and Avery W. Williams of Chicago; granddaughters Jennifer Baker of Jackson, Lynn Washington and Celia Washington of Atlanta, Janelle Houston of Houston, Michelyn Buckley, Vashawn Buckley and Jocelyn Buckley of Denver; grandsons Arthur Michael Washington Jr. and Telique E. Morris of Atlanta; great-grandchildren Victoria Baker of Jackson, Michael Hobley, Mireya Drinkard, Maia Johnson and Mason Johnson of Denver; nieces, Rhonda J. Williams of Chicago and Elizabeth Williams of Oakland, Calif.; grand-niece, Amy LaForte, Albany, N.Y.; grand-nephew, James Dowling, Oakland; great-grand-nieces, Maya LaForte, Albany, N.Y., and Kaya LaForte, Oakland and many other relatives and friends.