Reginald M. Ballantyne, Jr., known as Buck to family and friends – husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, engineer, musician, band manager, animal lover, hero, patriot – passed away peacefully at home on December 5, 2018. Buck was preceded in death by Constance “Connie” Aimee Ballantyne, his wife of 73 years; his parents Reginald M. Ballantyne, MD and Frances Ma Belle van Zandt; and his sister Janet Rieger.
Buck was born on Flag Day in June of 1923 in Manlius, NY, and grew up in the Syracuse area. He graduated from the Manlius Military Academy, medals on his chest even then, and undertook his collegiate studies in engineering. Buck met the love of his life Connie in 1939 in Garden City, Long Island, NY and they married on December 23, 1942 in Spartanburg, SC, on their way to Fort Benning, GA, where Buck prepared to deploy to Europe during WWII. Buck loved America deeply and served as an infantry unit commander, spending 18 months in combat and returning from the War with his chest again covered with medals carrying words such as Valor, Distinguished, Battle Stars, Victory, Honor and Heroism. He and his troops participated bravely in the liberation of Rome and Northern Italy. Interestingly, the medal he was most proud of, which certainly reflects his heroism and his courage, was the award established by General George Washington – the Purple Heart – which he proudly displayed on his license plates. To quote the record, “The heroism and aggressive determination to destroy the enemy’s forces here demonstrated by 1st Lieutenant Reginald Ballantyne are a credit to the Armed Forces of the United States.” And yet no braggadocio about his feats in combat emanated from him. To the contrary, he held his achievements and experiences private.
Upon his return to the United States, he started a family in the suburbs of Long Island, specifically in Westbury, sharing a love with Connie that spanned 77 years. Mom left us two years ago this past June and Dad couldn’t wait to get to Heaven to be reunited with his bride. In fact, his last words were “Connie, Connie, Connie.”
While he and Mom had initially anticipated a relatively small family, the number of children grew to six. These six children could not have possibly wished for a better father, who rose through the executive ranks of cross-Atlantic shipping companies, retiring as a senior executive of United States Navigation, a major container shipping enterprise.
And despite getting up in the morning every day to catch the route of the dashing commuter to Manhattan, that being the Long Island Railroad, his love for his wife and children dominated his life’s endeavors, ensuring that each of his six children was provided the opportunities for quality education, musical instrumentation, a variety of athletics, scouting and the awareness of the influence of a kind soul.
He introduced his family to beautiful Lake George in Upstate New York and to the fun of water-skiing, tennis, volleyball, softball and myriad other activities. To this day, Huletts Landing at Lake George is an annual meeting place for many of his children and grandchildren. Dad loved animals, and our family home in which he lived until the very end was filled with pets: birds, hamsters, turtles, ducklings, cats, dogs and of course the family’s beloved Scamper, a wonderful and pregnant terrier, who on a cold, snowy day arrived in the home garage with the children pleading with Dad that Scamper become a member of the family – and so she did, but we can all remember the look on Dad’s face when many little puppies arrived. In the spirit of Dad’s love for animals and after Mom’s passing, daughter Barbara selected two parakeets to be with him and he certainly enjoyed talking with them and watching them flap about.
Christmas was a special time for the family and he and Connie made sure that while the children were still young and believed in Santa, they would enjoy the best holiday possible. His joy was witnessing his family’s joy, and because he always put his family first, he certainly witnessed a lot of joy.
With all this said, he still had time to play the clarinet and saxophone with friends and colleagues at venues across Long Island as a revered member of the North Shore Pops Concert Band; to play in the American Legion Marching Band; to participate in theatrical productions along with Connie where they both had the opportunity to demonstrate their musical gifts of song; to serve as a Governor of the Downtown Athletic Club, which for quite some time hosted the Heisman Trophy presentation; to enjoy travel both domestically and overseas; and to sing solo as often as possible his favorite song, that being Frank Sinatra’s ballad, My Way – Yes, you did, Dad, and we could not be more grateful to you and proud of you.
Reginald M. Ballantyne, Jr., was on Earth for 95 years. The sacrifices he made during his time here on behalf of his family are not only difficult to articulate but also most certainly consequential. We his children are left to contemplate, given all he did for us, did we do enough for him to meet the requirement of “Honor thy father and thy mother.”
Buck is survived by his six children, Reginald III, Barbara Hasnain, Peter, Bruce, Margot Alfano and Paula Desilva; 10 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donating to Paralyzed Veterans of America, Cal-Diego Chapter at: https://www.caldiegopva.org/ or mail to: 3350 La Jolla Village Drive, 1A-118, San Diego, CA 92161. Son Peter serves as the Executive Director of this organization.
Funeral Services will be held Wednesday, December 12, 2018 at 9:45 a.m. at St. Brigid Catholic Church, 50 Post Avenue, Westbury, NY 11590.
Visitations will be held Monday, December 10 from 7-9 p.m. and Tuesday, December 11 from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at Donohue Cecere Funeral Directors, 290 Post Avenue, Westbury, NY 11590. Interment will be in the Calverton National Cemetery, 210 Princeton Blvd., Calverton, NY, immediately following mass on December 12.