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Cecilia Buckley: A short life in full

When Cecilia Buckley was laid to rest on June 6, it was with a reminder of the fun times and relationships she established during her six years with her Sherwood Girl Scout troop.

'We put her cadet vest, folded up, next to her in her coffin,' said Wendy Groeger, a co-leader for Troop 40099.

But the troop, whose nickname is Troop '99' in honor of the state highway that divides the city, did more than that, finding ways to honor the 11-year-old who loved not only Girl Scouts but Scottish dancing, American Girl dolls and gardening.

'She wasn't just an exceptional girl; she was an exceptional human being,' said Jennifer Kuiper, the troop's other co-leader. 'She put everyone else before her.'

Adults knew she was special too, seeing in her a maturity, intelligence and thoughtfulness that made her wise beyond her years.

'Everyone was her best friend because she found the good in everyone else,' Groeger added.

Cecilia died June 2 at her Galewood Drive home in Sherwood, the victim of strangulation.

Her mother, Kristina Buckley, was arrested Tuesday at 11 a.m. after being released from a local hospital where she was being treated for self-inflicted wounds.

Sherwood Police Capt. Mark Daniel said she was taken into custody without incident and lodged in Washington County Jail without bail.

She was arraigned June 16 where her attorney entered a not guilty plea on her behalf.

A candleight vigil in Cecilia's memory was held June 12 in Woodhaven Park, attracting an estimated 100 people, including Cecilia's fellow Girl Scouts, neighborhood children, as well as students from Veritas School, the private Christian school Cecilia attended in Newberg.

On June 6, all 11 girls from Troop 99 attended Cecilia's Greek Orthodox funeral in Beaverton. Groeger said the events over the last two weeks forced the girls to grow up fast.

Wonderful mother

What's been tough for some of those who knew Kristina Buckley is reconciling what she's charged with doing with the woman they know.

Both co-leaders said Kristina Buckley was dedicated to her daughter, helping out with the troop by serving recently as the head 'cookie mom' in charge of the logistics of selling Girl Scout cookies. By their count, Buckley helped the girls sell 3,000 boxes of cookies.

Kuiper called Buckley 'a wonderful mother,' saying that many knew her as a woman of integrity, love and caring.

'Not only did she never talk about others in demeaning ways, she would request that others not speak rudely of other people,' said Kuiper. 'She was always there to offer assistance to our troop at any time and she often did so much more than (serving as) cookie mom (which is a huge task in and of itself).'

In addition, Groeger said she saw 'no red flags' that would indicate something was going on in Kristina Buckley's head.

Kuiper said talking about Kristina publicly has brought some consternation from readers of online coverage of the homicide.

A dedicated dancer

For more than the last year, Cecilia took twice-weekly Scottish dancing classes at the Sherwood Dance Academy.

Lea Ann Metting, co-owner of the dance studio, said Cecilia was a dedicated dancer, practicing at an age when most 11-year-olds don't appreciate practicing.

'She was good at it,' Metting said.

Cecilia had even planned to perform at a weekend performance, including performing an intricate crossed-sword dance where participants dance in the four quadrants made by the weapons.

'We do have one of her former classmates dancing in her honor,' said Metting. The instructor said Cecilia had a smile that could light up a room.

'She was a hard worker. She was shy. She had a lot of poise. She was a good friend to her classmates.'

Cecilia was buried in her Scottish dance outfit.

Peaceful painting

During the June 7 Sherwood City Council meeting, Mayor Keith Mays called for a moment of silence.

'We lost a sweet little girl in our community last Thursday,' said Mays.

After Cecilia's death, girls in her Girl Scout troop gathered and talked about what they could do to remember Cecilia, said Kuiper. They came up with '20 amazing ideas,' including one to dedicate a mural they had been working on at the Sherwood Family YMCA to Cecilia.

Cecilia had completed her portion of the mural, whose theme was exercise.

It was dedicated to her memory on June 16.

'Cecilia's (illustration), of course, is a peaceful character,' said Groeger, 'It's a girl doing yoga.'

Farewell

As a tribute to Cecilia, the troop got together on June 4 to make a memorial board. In front of it, they placed an album of Girl Scout photos, a poem and a drawing that one of the girls made of Cecilia in her Brownie vest.

The next day, they took part in the traditional Girl Scout 'bridging' ceremony, celebrating their move from being junior Girl Scouts to cadets. Using a bridge in Stella Olsen Park, girls from Cecilia's troop put on their new khaki cadet vests and walked across.

All of them then recrossed the bridge, picked up Cecilia's cadet vest, held it up and walked across again.

At the end of the bridging ceremony, the girls release purple helium balloons - Cecilia's favorite color - containing notes about what the girls will remember most about their friend.

'We just want the world to know what a beautiful person she was,' Kuiper said.