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Crash Victims Remembered Up & Down East Coast

Friends and colleagues recall the Buckalews and Rakesh Chawla as busy, giving.

The deaths of the Buckalew family and Rakesh Chawla resonated Wednesday from the Passaic River Valley in New Jersey to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

The Buckalews–Jeffrey, 45, his wife Corinne, 45, their children, Jackson, 9, and Meriwether, 6, and their family dog–and Chawla died Tuesday when the plane piloted by Jeffrey Buckalew crashed into the median of Route 287 in Morris Township.

The accident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Jeffrey Buckalew was partner and managing director at Greenhill & Co. LLC of New York and Chawla, 36, was a managing partner for the investment bank.

News of the accident was reported by media outlets from New York to North Carolina, on business newspapers and websites, in the arts community in both New York and Virginia, and in the Indian press.

The coverage reflected both the careers of the Buckalews and Chawla, their individual involvement with their college alma maters, and their philanthropic efforts.

Jeffrey Buckalew earned his bachelor’s degree in 1988 and a master's degree in 1993, both in business, and both from the University of North Carolina.

His friends said he was a fan of the school's nationally renowned men’s basketball team, and often attended games.

Buckalew was also named in 2007 to Golf Digest’s "Wall Street 150," a ranking of the top golfers in finance.

Buckalew established a foundation, which last year donated $126,450 to dozens of charities including the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, Catholic Big Sisters & Big Brothers, the Gilder Lehman Institute of American History, The Bone Marrow Foundation, the Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation of Charlottesville, Va., and Good Shepherd Services Development Department of New York, where he served as a board member, records show.

Buckalew was also a supporter of the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler business school and, according to the school’s website, donated between $10,000 and $25,000 to the college in 2009.

Buckalew, an experienced pilot, was named by the National Business Aviation as a Teterboro Airport Good Neighbor for his faithful adherence to the airport’s nighttime noise abatement rules.

Corinne Buckalew was a visual artist and owner of Corinne Buckalew Designs, was  a board member at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts of Amherst, Va.

Gregory Smith, executive director of the Virginia Center for Creative Arts said Wednesday that Corinne Buckalew had joined the board about a year and a half ago and was active in the planning of the 40th anniversary celebration of the center held last spring in New York.

“They moved back to Charlottesville in September,” Smith said. “It was a homecoming for her.”

The children attended St. Anne’s-Belfield School, an independent boarding and day school in Charlottesville, according to a statement by David Lourie, head of the school. Jackson was a fifth grader, and Meriwether was in first grade.

Smith, the art center’s director for three months, said Charlotte Buckalew was raised in Charlottesville.

The family moved into the $9.15 million Eagle Hill Farm, 202-acre farm perched near the western slope of the Blue Ridge Mountain that over look the wide Shenandoah Valley. They also maintained a home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, according to news reports.

Albemarle County, Va., records said the home was purchased in 2006.

The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts posted a notice of the deaths on its website and asked members for contribute their thoughts.

“We are shocked and saddened to announce the tragic death of our friend and board member Corinne Buckalew, who perished yesterday in a plane crash with her husband, Jeff, and their young children, Jackson and Meriwether," the art center notice said." An experienced pilot, Jeff was flying the family and a business colleague from New Jersey to Georgia. Ice is expected to be a factor.

“On her first visit to VCCA as a new board member, her warmth and open delight in the beauty of Mt. San Angelo were immediately endearing. She exemplified that compelling combination of gracious southern charm burnished with a quiet metropolitan sophistication. 

“Immediately pulled into the whirl of 40th anniversary events, Corinne generously shared her time and artistry. We remember Corinne arriving with mounds of flowers for the New York event at Apella on April 7. As she walked toward us, her smiling blue eyes sparkled in a haze of lavender flowers that drifted and bobbed around her. In no time at all, beautiful bouquets of delicate purple and green were strewn throughout the room. It's hard to remember what the flowers were, but her smile was unforgettable."

Chawla is survived by a wife and three daughters.

"Many of his colleagues that worked with him at Greenhill and many of his fellow alums are obviously very distraught and upset by what's happened," said Dean Carl Zeithaml of the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce told the Danville (Va.) Register & Bee. "He was somebody that people really liked."

Chawla was "very active," serving as an alumni trustee for the McIntire School and a loyal supporter of both the school and the university as a whole, Zeithaml said.

He returned frequently to the university and recruited commerce students to his firm, as well as hosting university functions in New York, Zeithaml said.

Ben Gordon December 22, 2011 at 02:50 AM
I believe Rakesh Chawla is survived by 3 daughters, not one. Such a tragedy. I knew Rakesh, he was a client. A truth salt of the earth kind of guy. Truly good person who was smart and modest. Always thought of others. Made time for people. A rare breed in a sea of callous, overworked investment bankers. He will be sorely missed.
Louis C. Hochman December 22, 2011 at 03:07 AM
Ben, thanks for the heads up -- we've made that correction. And thanks for your sharing thoughts & memories.
Elizabeth Bartlett December 22, 2011 at 12:56 PM
What about his wife and kids? Don't they have a history too? This makes it seem like the men were the only important ones because they were big money makers in big business. Shame on you. All life is valuable.
Ellen December 22, 2011 at 01:10 PM
Amen
Hammer1424 December 22, 2011 at 03:19 PM
I dont understand why other media sources are reporting the Pilot HIMSELF was reporting icing conditions - its apparent he was checking if there WERE any icing conditions. How can people be getting this wrong?? ..Reporting and Checking are two entirely different things indeed ! Examples below - http://www.dailyrecord.com/article/20111220/NJNEWS/312200013/Morris-plane-crash http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20111220/NJNEWS/312200021/NJ-plane-crash http://www.app.com/article/20111220/NJNEWS10/312200043/Morris-plane-crash http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2011/12/pilot-of-small-plane-in-new-jersey-spoke-of-icing-conditions-moments-before-crash/1
lisa gallo December 24, 2011 at 05:30 AM
Lisa Gallo. I had very little interaction with Rakesh, but the interaction I had with him left a large impact on me. I am an executive recruiter in hustling & bustling, no one has time for anything, Manhattan. I have had the desire to work with Greenhill & Company so I spent a late night at my office & spent time reading Greenhill & Company's executive's bios & I left a voicemail for every MD, VP & Principle explaining my desire to work with them. Two weeks ago my colleague paged me "Lisa, Rakesh from Greenhill is on the line returning your voicemail". It instantly brought a smile to my face that he called back. Rakesh started by saying "Lisa, I'm sorry I hadn't called you back sooner I was out of the office traveling but I wanted to make sure I got back to you as soon as I had a free moment ". We spoke for ~10 minutes regarding recruiting, my background and he mentioned that he was going to pass along my contact information because he liked what I had to say. That was the only time I ever spoke with Rakesh but this left an impact on me. Cold calling to investment executives in Manhattan is not easy, everyone is busy, rushing & doesn't have enough hours in the day. Rakesh was the 1 executive from the firm that no matter how busy he was, made time to call me back and exemplified character and a breath of fresh air. I'm sure he was turly a high quality person to people who had the pleasure of knowing him. There should be more people like Rakesh in New York!

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