Pat Buckley died on Sunday. She is said to have been one of the models for the “social X-rays” portrayed in Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities. I knew her slightly, but not as a New York socialite–I don’t move in those circles. Our acquaintance was of a different kind: Pat was the wife of William F. Buckley, Jr., whose National Review-related dinner parties she superintended. We met twenty years ago at one of those gatherings, an experience I wrote about for National Review Online‘s condolence page, which also contains links to various other tributes posted on NRO:
The first time I sat at Pat Buckley’s dinner table, I found her…well, more than a little bit intimidating. I was fresh out of the Midwest and had never met anyone quite like her. She seemed to have stepped out of a Louis Auchincloss novel. No sooner were we introduced than I started wondering whether my socks matched–but then she went out of her way to make me feel at ease, and before I knew it, I’d lost my heart. Was the elaborate hauteur of her public manner a game she played to amuse herself and her loved ones? I’ve no idea–I didn’t know her well enough–but to me she was never anything but charming, caring, and wonderfully kind, and I adored her. I can no more imagine a world without Pat than I can imagine a world without champagne.
Her New York Times obituary is here.