Richard Buckley is associate conductor of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and has already amassed enough musical credits at 26 to impress even his own musically gifted family. His father is Emerson Buckley, the former New York City Opera conductor, who is now music director of the Fort Lauderdale Symphony. His mother, Mary Henderson, was a lyric soprano at the Met. His older brother, Robert, is associate director of the Houston Grand Opera. Richard himself made his debut at age 4, singing opera with Cyril Ritchard in Colorado. Two years later he was performing with the New York City Opera and at 7 with the Met. The native New Yorker enrolled at North Carolina School of the Arts at 14 and wound up proficient in piano, violin ("I like to fiddle around with strings"), trombone and percussion. "I decided to be a conductor when I was 16 or 17," recalls the prematurely gray bachelor, whose favorite hobby is cooking. After receiving his B.A., Richard entered the master's program at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., then attended conducting courses in Europe and Aspen. Still, Buckley admits, he came to Seattle "wet behind the ears," and says that to conduct musicians who are older than he requires tact and preparation. "The minute you are unprepared in front of an orchestra," he notes, "they'll cut you to shreds."
Beatrice Rudder, 26, says she "felt like I was in a glass bubble" after she became Washington, D.C.'s first female fire fighter. Rudder was the only woman on the force of 1,450 until last May, when two more females were hired. During her rookie year she faced resentment from fellow workers. "I knew I was setting an example." So, the 5'6", 155-lb. Washington native says, "I hustled my ass off." The ill will, she explains, resulted from "destroying the image of the macho fire fighter." Rudder had also worked as a lifeguard while earning a pre-med degree in biology from American University. But with no financing for med school, she found herself back at poolside after graduation in 1975, earning under $8,000. Rudder concedes "things were getting desperate" when her sister told her about the fire fighter openings. Rudder endured 10 weeks of rigorous training and was assigned to Engine Co. No. 4. There have been a few snags—like the time the alarm rang at 3 a.m. and she stumbled out of bed, lunged toward the pole and fell flat on her face—"I forgot to pull my pants up." Rudder still hopes to become a doctor, but she looks forward to the day "when people look at me and don't say, 'There's a girl,' but, 'There's another fire fighter.' Unfortunately, that's a long way off."