LEXINGTON, KY (Nov. 8, 2016) – Keeneland today remembered George “Bucky” Sallee, bugler at the historic race track for more than 50 years until his retirement in the fall of 2013 to become Bugler Emeritus, who died at 87 on Monday, Nov. 7.
“Bucky was a beloved member of the Keeneland family and a wonderful ambassador for racing,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “Throughout his storied career, he generously shared his time and musical talent with fans of all ages. He will be remembered as a very special part of Keeneland’s history.”
A native of Lexington, Bucky began taking trumpet lessons at age 7, and majored in music at the University of Kentucky. He became a renowned musician, playing trumpet and tenor sax in the 1950s and early 1960s with such notable bands as Little Enis and the Fabulous Table Toppers, and Lexington’s legendary jazz musician Clarence “Duke” Madison. During his career, Bucky performed with a number of headliners, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Boots Randolph, Charlie Daniels, Fats Domino and Pee Wee King.
Bucky got his start at Keeneland in the early 1960s when Frank Atkins, the club pro at Picadome Golf Course who moonlighted at Keeneland during the race meets, asked Bucky to help him by filling in as track bugler. For the next 50-plus years, Bucky performed his signature “Boots and Saddles” for the post parade and “Assembly” at post time to the delight of race fans. He reached a career milestone on Oct. 9, 2002, when he made his 10,000th call to the post at Keeneland.
In addition to his wife of 38 years, Barbara Cook Sallee, Bucky is survived by his son, Thomas Lee (Rose) Sallee; grandchildren, Amy, Damon and Christy Sallee; nine great-grandchildren; daughter-in-law, Therese Welch; sister-in-law, Phyllis (Thomas) McCallister; niece, Barbara (Chuck) McCallister; nephews, Thomas (Jennifer) McCallister and John McCallister; and five great nieces and nephews and five great-great nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Frances Sallee, and sons, Larry and Doug Sallee and Lester Teater II.
Visitation will be from 4-8 p.m. on Wednesday at Johnson’s Funeral Home in Georgetown, Ky. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday at Georgetown First United Methodist Church. Burial will follow at Hillcrest Memorial Park in Lexington. Memorials may be made to Georgetown First United Methodist Church or Hospice of the Bluegrass.