I would like to thank the organization of Hospice. The nurses, Anita, Lisa and Pauline, were so efficient and loving to both me and my husband, Jack Marcelli.
The aides who came to minister to Jack’s bodily needs, Pam, Stacey and Laura, were just great and Chris and Andre, with their strong backs and lovely smiles were so good and kind at the jobs they did. During my dear husband’s last illness and death, I couldn’t have done it without them. Thanks to all of you for being here for me.
Jill M. Marcelli
Roswell native and flying legend
My dad, Buck Knoll, was born June 20, 1938, to Glynn and Juacile Barnett Knoll in Roswell. Buck started out as a farmer and was involved with agriculture all of his life as were his father and grandfathers.
As a young man he operated and maintained all manner of farm equipment as farmers must. When the area that he was farming was taken out of production, he sought a career as an agriculture pilot. He learned and did much of his Ag flying here in the Pecos Valley. Buck loved to play and was a natural pilot. Being the oldest son, I always admired my dad as a father and a spray pilot, or as they were commonly called, crop dusters.
His left arm was practically shot off in a hunting accident in 1968. The arm was reattached with a series of steel pins. He then had very limited use of this now fragile arm. Buck never let this be a handicap to him in any way the rest of his life. He had tremendous will to overcome the odds and become a professional Ag pilot. With thousands of hours of Ag time and well over 20 years in the business, he proved he had what it takes to be one of the elite, the steel-nerved aviators called crop dusters.
Buck started out learning to fly Ag without the benefit of a friend to take him under his wing. He was at the mercy of those who would let a greenhorn fly their old worn out spray planes. After surviving his first few seasons, he was able to learn from a veteran Ag pilot here in the valley. He went on to become a flying legend. From 1979-1989 he flew a 600 hp Thrush here in the Pecos Valley. Over the years, Buck flew many different types of Ag planes, in other parts of the country, mostly the West and South. From 1990 to 1995 he owned and operated a Grumman 600 hp Ag Cat in the Messilla Valley, Las Cruces, which he and my mom called B&R Flying service. As far as I know, Buck was the only Ag pilot to work the big Cat in the Messilla Valley as the fields are short, cut up, hard to work. I never saw Buck refuse to spray a field no matter how dangerous. In 1995 Buck had a heart attack; this was corrected with a double bypass. Buck was on his feet in three weeks and given a clean bill of health after his surgery. He resumed flying Ag. Unfortunately, there were dark forces at work which sought to ruin him and force him out of business. There were bad omens for my dad the last two years of his life. Circumstances not of his making put him in a spray plane that he did not own or care for. Buck was tragically killed on Oct. 14, 1997, flying the last pass of the day and of the season.
P.S. Spray flying is always demanding and dangerous. Only the best pilots need apply. Less than 1 percent of all licensed pilots are crop dusters, or as my dad would say, spray pilots.