Funny Man in Vineyard Haven: Art Buchwald Arrives Home

By JAMES KINSELLA

Art Buchwald, the writer whose hospice stay turned into a lease on life, returned Saturday afternoon to his beloved Martha's Vineyard.

Mr. Buchwald arrived at Martha's Vineyard Airport at 12:30 p.m. in a private plane that flew directly from Washington Dulles International Airport. Family members then drove him to his home on Main street in Vineyard Haven.

"He's really doing great," said his daughter-in-law, Tamara Buchwald. Friends already have dropped by to say hello to him, she said.

Mr. Buchwald, a longtime Vineyard summer resident who writes a column for Tribune Media Services, went into hospice in February after deciding not to undergo dialysis for diabetes. He expected to die within weeks.

But a funny thing - in more ways than one - happened on the way to his funeral.

Mr. Buchwald not only did not die, but thrived, bolstered by a steady, devil-may-care diet of rich desserts and McDonalds fast-food takeout. His hospice room turned into a popular Washington salon as he entertained a steady stream of visitors.

On Saturday evening, Mr. Buchwald's daughter, Jennifer Buchwald, attended the National Society of Newspaper Columnists conference in Boston to thank the organization for giving her father its Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award.

"Dad is alive and well and arrived at Martha's Vineyard today for the summer," Ms. Buchwald told conference participants, according to Editor & Publisher. She added that he plans to write a book about his near-death experience.

"When dad got put in hospice, we all thought it was a one-way ticket," Ms. Buchwald told conference participants. "Instead it was a round-trip ticket with frequent-flyer miles."

Editor & Publisher reported that she called her father's experience "the survival of the fittest and funniest."

Mr. Buchwald is staying with his son, Joel Buchwald, his daughter-in-law, Tamara Buchwald, and the couple's children, Corbin, 3, and Tate, 20 months. Mr. Buchwald had hoped to go out this past weekend, but Tamara Buchwald said the airplane trip had tired him.

His plans for the summer include attending the Possible Dreams auction, an annual event in Edgartown that raises money for Martha's Vineyard Community Services, where he has been the acutioneer for many years.