Leonard Bertram “Bucky” Stein

May 28, 1925 - February 13, 2022
Leonard Bertram “Bucky” Stein

Leonard “Bucky” Bertram Stein of Wilmington NC, born May 28, 1925, passed away February 13, 2022.

Bucky was born in Bridgeton, NJ, to Rose and Max Stein, and grew up in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated from Overbrook High School, and it was at the age of 16 that he met Ruth, who would become his wife of 68 years. Bucky served in the Coast Guard during WWII and loved to talk about his time stationed in Alaska, and patrolling the beaches of Cape May on horseback. The family is certain that is how the USA won the War.

Bucky and Ruth had two children, Elliott and Howard, while living in Philadelphia among both of their extended families. In 1955, they moved to Jacksonville, NC, where Bucky started Tireville, a one-man open-air tire retreading service. They had a daughter, Deborah, and Bucky worked relentlessly to build his business. Howard joined Bucky in 1976, and together they created Target Tire and Buffalo Tire, adding employees and co-workers who were all swept up into the Stein business and family, which were one and the same. Bucky delighted in broadening the horizons of every person he worked with, or came in contact with. He was particularly proud of the trips he hosted for his employees/customers/suppliers all over the world.
When Bucky and Howard sold the business in 2004, Bucky then turned to philanthropy with the same doggedness with which he approached everything in his life. His impact is far reaching and deep-rooted. Bucky’s passions were widespread, and included exercise, reading, politics, theater, movies, music from Beethoven to Bruce, food, wine, traveling, hunting…there was nothing that didn’t interest him, and nothing he liked more than the company of a good dog. He enjoyed conversing on almost any topic, didn’t hesitate to give his opinion, and was in constant pursuit to help everyone he knew live life to their maximum potential. Bucky became well known in recent years for his World Famous Homemade Nut Butter, and his Wine Cork Boards. And if you visited Bucky in his home, you never left empty-handed.

Bucky will be sorely missed by many, but none more so than his children, Elliott Stein of New York, Howard Stein of Wilmington NC, Deborah Mathies and husband Blair Mathies of Chesapeake Beach MD, grandchildren Susan Turner and husband Wayne Turner, Henry, Rose and Max Mathies, great grandchildren Ashley and Greyson Turner, and Mordecai Mathies, his sister-in-law and nieces and nephews…and his “Special Lady” Rita Reibman of Wilmington NC. Bucky was predeceased by his sister Estelle “Sis” Elion, his wife Ruth, and his grandson Justin Stein.

A Celebration of Bucky’s Life will be held in the near future.

Please make any donations:
“In memory of Bucky Stein” to:
New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation
2001 South 17th St.
Wilmington, NC 28401
~or~
Lower Cape Fear LifeCare Foundation
1414 Physicians Drive
Wilmington, NC 28401

His burial will be 12 noon Thursday, February 17, 2022 at Haym Salomon Memorial Park, 200 Moores Road, Frazer, PA beside his beloved wife, Ruth Schreibman Stein.

Share memories and condolences with the family by visiting the “Condolence” tab.

Wilmington Funeral & Cremation 1535 S. 41st Street, Wilmington, NC 28403 910-791-9099


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  • February 17, 2022
    Dave & Pat Wilhite says:
    Bucky was a Giant of a man in the business work and life. We will greatly miss his caring, generous and unique communications where he always made you feel there was no one else in the world at the time of each contact. Thanks Bucky for the dear friendship and superior working relationship. None like nor could top it in my 50 years in the financial side of business.

  • March 07, 2022
    Debbie bluestein says:
    Bucky and Ruth were dear friends and neighbors for many years. With love and condolences. Helen & Marshall Dotson

  • February 23, 2022
    Warren Dent says:
    Praying for Bucky and the family. Mr Stein's Target Tire changed my life forever, as they advanced me from long haired warehouse guy to warehouse manager, and then sales. I will never forget standing in the Columbia SC warehouse, drenched in sweat with a ponytail down my back at 23 years old, Bucky asking me about previous (very limited) sales experience I had at ITCO. I actually told him that I was nice to my customers and he said "I have no doubt you were nice to them" and realized I had no real answer. What he must have known is that I was willing to work my ass off for him and could become a good salesman. By age 29 I was SOTY (Salesman Of The Year) and on a cruise ship with him, Ruth, Howard and all of the managers and customers I miss so much these days (I left soon after he sold Target). They even sent me to branch management training, with zero formal education, which never resulted in placement since we were sold shortly after that as well. Every time we had a child Ruth and Bucky would send us a gift and it was always appreciated. Dave Puckett told a story once about how Bucky would dry his hands with paper towels in the office, but keep the paper towel for later use. I actually do this to this day in the office of my business! Any of you old Target Tire guys please know I think of you often, as I did Mr Stein. God bless you Bucky, and thank you for all you did for me and my family.

  • February 21, 2022
    Jayme Klauser says:
    My time working for Mr Stein and Howard will forever be some of my best memories. Mr Stein made me feel valued and comfortable. His passing will not dim my memories of my time at Target Tire. He leaves a void that few can fill!

  • February 21, 2022
    Phyllis Venters says:
    Howard & family, What a full, busy, successful, and happy life Bucky had. Years ago when we flew commercial to NYC a few times a year for Broadway shows, we'd sit down on the plane, then there would always be Bucky Stein, with a big smile on his face. Sending you love. Bucky lived life abundantly, and he will be remembered as a very special, giving soul!