Rest in Peace: Jim Buchwald | 1928 - 2022
September 22, 2022
Ashbrook lost a great friend. America lost a great patriot.
The Ashbrook Center is deeply saddened to announce the passing of Ashbrook board member Jim Buchwald. Jim believed in the promise of America and loved the principles of freedom. Jim’s life, well lived, was a perfectly American story proving that free men can prosper.
Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, Jim was always fascinated with machinery. After a false start as a middle-school teacher in 1949, Jim embraced his calling to be an engineer. With the help of his devoted wife Maureen, he worked to put himself through college. By the mid-60s, Jim had gained considerable experience engineering gas compressors for several companies. Frustrated by their complacent designs, he saw an opportunity to innovate. Partnering with two friends, Jim founded Ariel Corporation in 1966, building a prototype gas compressor in his basement. The idea that began as a basement operation evolved into a state-of-the-art factory and a world-class company that continues to set the standard of excellence as the world’s leading manufacturer of separable reciprocating natural gas compressors.
Jim’s life in business was one of impossible challenges and a remarkable workforce who took pride in producing the highest quality product in the world. It is a perfectly American life that instilled a natural patriotism in Jim, leading him to be a leader in his community, giving generously to develop his hometown of Mount Vernon, Ohio.
A voracious reader, Jim learned all he could about his country’s history and could talk just as easily about steam engines as he could about the Comanche Indian tribe. He knew, for example, how the Allegheny mountains formed differently from the Rockies or Smoky Mountains, and he could show you the difference looking out of the window of a plane. He would cite a 100+ year old authoritative book on the subject and carefully explain the important points. He took the time to read about so many seemingly obscure topics because he would say, “it enlarges your pleasure of being in the world.”
In 2007, Jim joined the Ashbrook Center’s Board, which he served on until his passing. It was at his urging in 2012 that Ashbrook took our unique way of teaching and learning about America to teachers in locations across the country—an effort he supported full heartedly. He believed that we could change the direction our country was heading by reaching the young through those who teach the young. He wanted young people to understand why they ought to love and respect their country so they could grow up to be responsible citizens. He told us it was our duty. And in that moment, Ashbrook’s Teaching American History (TAH) programs were born.
Jim’s legacy is far greater than can be put into a few words. Suffice to say that his family, his company, his community, and his country will benefit from his work for many years to come. During one of his last conversations, Jim, ever focused on the future of his beloved country, asked, “We’re still in the fight, right?”
Yes, Mr. Buchwald, we’re still in the fight. We are dutybound. Thank you for your genuine friendship and for your grand American life, which continues to inspire us all.