The Life of R. Buckminster Fuller: 1895–1983

In a tribute to R. Buckminster Fuller, the man who brought us (among many other things) the phrase "doing more with less," MOTHER looks back at the milestones of his life.

| September/October 1983

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    To capsulize Fuller's achievements and ideas would be an impossible task: Over two dozen books and 25 U.S. patents attest to the seemingly boundless energy he put forth.

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R. Buckminster Fuller died at his wife Anne's bedside on Friday, July 1, 1983, 11 days short of putting in 88 years on this planet. Thirty-six hours later, Anne Hewlett Fuller—Bucky's companion and most ardent supporter for over 65 years—passed away, never having regained consciousness from the coma that brought her husband to her side at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles.

To capsulize Fuller's achievements and ideas in a few hundred words would be an impossible task. Over two dozen books and 25 U.S. patents attest to the seemingly boundless energy he put forth through even his later years (his most recent book, Grunch of Giants, was published just this year).

We hope those of you who are familiar with Fuller's work will find that the following short examples rekindle your enthusiasm for Bucky's far-reaching vision, and, if you're a relative newcomer to his ideas, we hope that our sampling will encourage you to delve deeper.

Bucky was born on July 12, 1895, in Milton, Massachusetts, and his ancestors included the transcendentalist Margaret Fuller, the first publisher (in her literary magazine Dial) of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. At age six, Bucky (as he preferred to be called) designed the tetrahedronal octet truss, using toothpicks and dried peas, but it took another 60 years for him to patent the design as the Octetruss.

In 1917 Buckminster Fuller took Anne Hewlett's hand in marriage. The couple's first child, Alexandra, was born in 1918, and—in an important way—Bucky's observation of, and love for, his daughter helped form his concepts of the perfection of childhood and of humanity's untapped potential. Alexandra's death, in 1922, precipitated the worst period in Bucky's life, and a catharsis that would eventually lead to a complete revision of his way of thinking.

On a windy winter night on the Chicago shore of Lake Michigan, while on the verge of suicide, he reasoned: "You do not have the right to eliminate yourself; you do not belong to you. You belong to the universe."

Charles Adler
12/21/2008 10:17:43 PM

I have customized my Google News page to search the news every day for mention of Buckminster Fuller. Today, inexplicably, this obituary from the archives of Mother Earth News turned up in my news search. Several years ago I created a site ( that I dedicated to Fuller. I was fortunate to hear him speak several times and continue to be inspired by him.


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