‘His exceptional leadership and dedication to Riverside has undeniably made Riverside a better and safer place. We are incredibly fortunate to have him as our director of public safety.” 

Those are the words used by Riverside Village President Joe Ballerine when describing Matt Buckley, and in recognition for all he has done and does, Buckley was named Riverside’s Person of the Year 2023.

The announcement was made by Mary Rob Clark at the May meeting of the Riverside village trustees. Clark was representing the Riverside Township Lions Club, which yearly sponsors the naming of the Person of the Year. 

Riverside Deputy Fire Chief Matt Buckley (FILE 2015)

Clark is a member of the Lions Club committee which reviewed nominations for the prestigious award. Buckley was one of many nominations received this year. 

Matt is a familiar face to residents, having been raised in Riverside. He and his family are still residents of the village. 

Placing both the fire and police departments under the one director of public safety in 2021 was a big change for Riverside, but village officials believe Buckley is up to the task and has proved to have met those challenges. 

It is not unusual to see Buckley arrive at the scene first wherever there is a call, no matter how small or large the call may be. At local events he is visible with his bright red hair and broad smile.

As Person of the Year, Buckley will be a guest of honor in the July 4 parade. Normally, the Person of the Year rides in a sports car, but this year Buckley will fittingly lead the parade in the fire department’s antique fire truck. 

The accolades will continue at a dinner in the fall at the Riverside Golf Club. Arrangements have not been confirmed but an announcement will be coming soon. Tickets will then be available at Aunt Diana’s Fudge, Riverside Library and Riverside Bank. I’ll announce the details in this space.

Upon being told he was named Person of the Year in a three-way call, Buckley’s silence was followed by the word “humbled.” Those that know Matt personally and privately are not surprised by his response, because that is Matt. 

His capabilities have brought him where he is in his field. His capabilities as a person have made him the man he is and worthy of the title Person of the Year.