On Nov. 9, the sounds of pews creaking and mourners sniffling echoed throughout the sanctuary of Mountain Brook Baptist Church as friends, family and loved ones gathered to reminisce about former Samford Vice President Harry Blackwell “Buck” Brock. Brock passed away from illness on Nov. 3, just days after the top floor of the Samford University Center was named Buck Brock Commons.
Brock began his Samford career in 1998 as a trustee, later joining administration in 2007 and serving for 15 years as the executive vice president for business and financial affairs. He retired from Samford in the summer of 2022.
Though the event was somber, attendees at the memorial laughed freely in remembrance of Brock’s bright spirit and love for others. He was described as generous, kind and welcoming by everyone who spoke at the service, a sentiment confirmed by the nods of those in attendance as Brock’s many qualities and accolades were listed. Amongst those who spoke at the memorial service were his lifelong friends Daryl Sherrell, Rob Burton and former Samford President Andrew Westmoreland.
Westmoreland delivered the eulogy for the memorial, capturing the essence of Brock through stories and recollections that demonstrated who he was as an individual.
“To capture the measure of this man in a few short paragraphs is, how I consider it, impossible,” Westmoreland said. “When Buck offered his heart, he offered his full heart without holding back. His loyalty was pure and solid and unquestionable.”
Westmoreland attributed Samford’s lasting financial health to Brock’s experience as a former banker and financial advisor.
“Buck had an amazing capacity to see things that others missed,” Westmoreland said. “He foresaw the troubled waters of the financial crisis that began in 2007, and because of his insights…we avoided the worst elements in the process, thanks largely to Buck.”
Westmoreland also spoke of Brock’s endless curiosity and desire to know the people around him better.
“He asked questions, thousands of questions. Socrates might have invented the Socratic Method, but it did not reach its zenith until Buck tried it himself,” Westmoreland said.
Samford President Beck Taylor attended the memorial service, reflecting on who Brock was as an individual and to the Samford community as a whole.
“As I’ve related to people over the last few days since Buck Brock’s death, he was a big man, but had an even bigger heart for Samford University,” Taylor said. “In the years he served [at Samford], he gave almost every waking moment of his life to our students and to the welfare and benefit of the university.”
Taylor also gave Brock substantial credit for the financial stability of Samford University.
“So much of what the university is privileged to experience today – growth, health, missional fidelity – so much of that comes from Buck’s good work,” Taylor said.
Overall, Brock was known for his unfailing generosity, care for others and commitment to Samford students.
“I only wish that more students could have known Buck Brock,” Taylor said. “He loved Samford students, and he was very quick to remind all of us that we’re here because of the students and any decision that we make needs to be for the students.”