Know Your Driftless Neighbor: Meet Katy Buck

By Denise Lana,

Katy Buck, one of the founding members of the Decorah Rocks group, has been busy organizing this year’s Hometown Heroes Hike and Hungry Hungry Heroes Pancake Breakfast coming up on Saturday, June 15.

From your next-door neighbor to that one down on main street, a face you see around town or a name you hear over and over,  these are your Driftless Neighbors.

Meet Katy Buck…

“Yeoman Bolder”, “911 Dispatch”, “Weezer”, “Crazy Rock Lady” are just a few monikers for Decorah’s resident rock royalty, Katy Buck. If you have ever found a beautiful painted rock whilst wandering around Decorah and the numerous trails and landmarks, Katy has probably touched or painted that rock. 

As one of the core founding members and Facebook page administrator for the 7,000+ member Decorah Rocks group that started in 2020, Katy is easily recognized wherever she goes. With an ever-present smiling face and intoxicatingly funny personality, Katy has never met a stranger! Behind her Decorah Rocks boss lady facade, Katy has led an equally-decorated and painted life. 

Born in Kansas, Katy’s youth was filled with constant change as her family moved often. Maybe that is what sparked her easy-going personality — always having to adapt at a moment’s notice.

“By the time I was in seventh grade, I had gone to seven different schools!” Katy said. “I have always been able to talk to anyone about anything — I can talk a snake out of a wicker basket!” 

She had dreams of being a meteorologist, but as Katy got older, she chose to join the military and signed up for a stint in the U.S. Navy. While stationed at Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, Calif., Katy met John Buck, a handsome Recon Marine. They were soon married and had two children, son Tyler and daughter Chelsea. Now adults with children of their own, Tyler and Chelsea are two of Katy’s favorite human beings, along with husband, John, and her mom and dad, who Katy affectionately says are “the people who gave me life.” 

Katy and John moved to the Driftless area in 2001, and Katy established herself in the community while serving as a 911 dispatcher from 2000 to 2016 in Howard, Winneshiek and Fayette Counties, as well as Decorah. Since 2016, she has been a public safety software consultant, and juggles her busy work schedule with playing with her grandkids and hiking and hiding rocks with her Decorah Rocks crew.

“I love how beautiful the area is, along with the community safety and endless outdoor activities,” she expressed. “There is easy access to the river for kayaking, and the parks and rec trail system — especially the middle, lower and upper ‘Mother’s Day’ trail — is a great place to hide rocks, clear your mind and find yourself!”

With a mind as sharp as her wit, Katy laughed when asked what her hidden talents are. “Recalling movie quotes and song lyrics — I am a lyrical Jesse James!” 

Said Katy of her two favorite movies, “Joe Dirt” and “Beaches”, “I love ‘Joe Dirt’s’ corny one-liners and the innocently stupid humor, and ‘Beaches’ is great because it shows different people becoming friends and trusting one another.” A favorite book of her’s is “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, citing her love of Shel Silverstein’s creativity and word construction. 

Although John loves Wild Willy’s Pizza in Waukon, Kate adamantly argued, “Nobody beats TJ’s Pizza in Clermont!” 

Katy recently started a small business called “Whimsical Weezer’s Creative Studio,” further channeling her artistic talents using a number of mediums, ranging from custom shirts, water bottles and drinkware to earrings, wind chimes and cutting boards. 

For anyone who has not had the occasion to meet Katy, it should be a bucket list entry! With a hardworking mindset, eccentric humor and bottomless kind heart, Katy’s friendship can be likened to one of her beautifully painted rocks — heavily-coveted and once found, treasured for life.

Hometown Heroes

Katy and the Decorah Rocks crew are responsible for the Hometown Heroes Hike and breakfast this Saturday, June 15 (event details on front page). The year 2024 marks the third heroes event put on by the rocks group who hosted the first event in 2021 to honor and raise funds for frontline workers and emergency responders after the pandemic. 

“It was started by Maureen Michel, Heather Hansen, Paula Ruen and John and I, and maintained by the same group with support from our members,” explains Katy of the heroes fundraiser and the rock group itself. 

“Planning events such as the hike takes a lot of time, effort, coordination, securing donations to hold the event. We aren’t a non-profit, we just facilitate fund raisers FOR non-profits, that as a group we decide who the benefactors will be,” continued Katy.

The group has painted over one-thousand rocks so far for Saturday’s event.

 “We encourage the kiddos and even adults to dress in super hero attire if they choose to make it more fun, because after all, heroes come in all shapes and sizes.”

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