Buckley was a favorite of my father--Dad was a loyal fan of Firing Line--so I remember him from a young age. My first memory involves Buckley's book God and Man at Yale. I was in elementary school when Dad received it as a birthday gift. As a child, the title was hard for me to understand. As an adult, the contents are. The man was scary-smart, with a gargantuan vocabulary and a lightning-flash mind.
Buckley was fearless and commanding in expressing his views, yet he was also very thoughtful and caring towards people, as evidenced by the personal testimonies of his kindness flooding the various media outlets today. His cerebral sense of humor was elegantly hilarious, one famous example being his response to President Reagan's question on what job he wanted in the administration. "Ventriloquist," Buckley said.
Ann Coulter quotes this classic line:
When asked if he had "referred to Jesse Jackson as an ignoramus," Buckley said, "If I didn't, I should have."