Brendan Buckley ’73, a New York City native, says he fell in love with Vermont while at Middlebury. An American literature major, he went on to medical school and wound up spending 34 years as a primary care doctor in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. He and his wife, Helen, raised two children, Matthew and Emma, in rural East Hardwick, and they all came to value the spirit of community they found there.
Helping to bind that community together is the Hardwick Gazette, the local weekly paper, and one of the leading voices in the paper for many years was sportswriter Dave Morse. Buckley’s delightful book, The Morse Code, takes its name from Morse’s weekly column and celebrates his devotion to his community. For the last two decades of his life, Morse was a fixture in Hardwick and its Northeast Kingdom neighbors, and he was an advocate for the region’s young athletes (including Matthew and Emma). After Morse passed away in 2015, Buckley felt compelled to chronicle the life of this man, who was named to the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame, and to celebrate the community he helped bring together. Buckley retired in 2019, and as he began to research the book in earnest, he discovered there was much more to the story than even some of those closest to Morse knew, including 20 years when Morse mysteriously vanished from the Vermont scene. Fortunately for the Northeast Kingdom, he re-emerged in 1994 in Hardwick, and “The Morse Code” became a must read for the entire region.
Now as Hardwick residents help each other rebuild and recover from the devastating Lamoille River floods of summer 2023, Buckley’s book is a timely and compelling reminder of the importance of connection and community journalism in all of Vermont’s small towns.