Mrs. Lena P. Buckingham was born in 1899 in rural Missouri. When she was a young girl, her parents moved to Kirksville, Missouri so she could receive a high school and college education. She graduated from Kirksville State Teachers College in 1921 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. She continued her education, attending Iowa State College in Ames during summers, bringing her young son with her or leaving him behind in the care of her parents. She received her Master's Degree in Home Economics from Iowa State College in 1942. She had taught junior high math and home economics in Kirksville, but now moved to the college level at Northeast Missouri State University.
This began her career of working with young college women. She taught several classes and supervised student teachers in the field of Home Economics but was best known and most loved as the director of home management houses on the campuses of Northeast Missouri State University at Kirksville, Missouri and the University of Northern Iowa at Cedar Falls, Iowa. Mrs. Buckingham was an excellent model and example for young women throughout her life at every stage. She continued her career and education even though she married and had her own family of two sons. She became a single parent of Edward D. Buckingham, her only surviving son following the death of an older son to a pneumonia epidemic before penicillin and a divorce from her husband. During the depression and World War II she struggled to assist her extended family.
Upon retirement in 1969, at the age of 70 years, she moved to Ames to be near her grandson, Matthew E. Buckingham. She once again worked with young women in a weekly outreach program for young families in her church. Mrs. Buckingham encouraged those who knew her to be self sufficient, to be happy in their pursuits, and to contribute in some way to society. Lena P. Buckingham did all these things exceedingly well herself until her death in 1986 at the age of 86 years.