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CARE Member Contributions to The Next Thirty Years

A Tribute to Reed Buffington
Transcript reproduced with the permission of Art Larson
Chabot College

Following is a transcript of the spoken tribute delivered by Arthur Larson at the June 29, 2014 Celebration of Life honoring Chabot College Founding President Reed Buffington, who died on June 9, 2014.  These remarks are presented here by the History Project Editor with permission from Dr. Larson:

I sincerely appreciate the invitation from Reed's family to participate in today's memorial service. No other person has had more influence on my professional career than did Reed. For nearly a half century, he was my leader, my colleague and most of all, my friend.

I first met Reed 47 years ago when he brought a number of Chabot faculty members to visit the junior high school of which I was the principal. While the Chabot faculty members visited our classes, Reed stayed with me. We visited in my office and toured the campus.
When the day's visitation was over, and Reed and his group were leaving, Reed said to me "We have an opening for an Assistant Dean, why don't you apply for it."

I discussed the situation with Jo-an. We decided it was time for me to move ahead. I applied and was called in for an interview. A short time later I received word that the Board had hired me as an Assistant Dean. That was the beginning of an extraordinary career at Chabot College under Reed's leadership.

When I first set foot on the Chabot campus, I was met by a man who told me very seriously that Dr. Buffington requires members of his administrative staff to wear a suit and tie and keep their shoes shined. As you see, even today I follow that expectation.

My first assignment was as an assistant to Dean John McKinley in the Office of Instruction. I was also a member of the administrative council, and there I could observe Reed in action. As I learned more and more of the respect held for Reed not only on the campus but in the community, in the State and in the nation, I realized what an honor it was to be on his staff.

Reed was the best "commanding officer" I ever had. He was a master delegator of responsibility with high expectations. I always knew where I stood and that I had his support. I felt from the start that he was a friend as well as "boss". He opened many doors of opportunity for me not only on the campus but in state professional organizations.

Reed and I had several things in common. We were twins! We were born one month apart in 1920. I am the oldest as my birthday is March, while Reed's is in April. To celebrate our coming 95th birthdays, we talked about having a great celebration some where, some how, some place.

We had something else in common. We had the same middle names Lawrence. I don't think I ever told Reed that Lawrence in Swedish is Lars.

During the years following our retirements, the limitations of age, distance and circumstance brought about a change in the nature of our friendship. We became more dependent upon contacts with each other. Over time, we concluded that we had become more than friends we had become best friends.

Since we were unable to meet together, e-mails and talking on the telephone became our major means of communication. We talked once a week, usually on Saturdays.

We would discuss local newspaper clippings which I sent to him about happenings at Chabot and Las Positas. We'd conclude that we were glad we retired.

I'd send him "stuff" I had written on various subjects and we'd discuss them. One was written after the 2012 election evaluating why the Republicans had problems. This ignited a lengthy discussion as Reed and I were political opposites.

I always regretted that Reed was unable to participate in my weekly coffee group five old men discussing whatever was on someone's mind. He did come down and sit with us on one occasion. Then in turn, he hosted us at Twin Cedars.

One day Reed asked me about my spiritual faith. I sent him a copy of the Faith Statement Jo-an and I had written for ourselves and a copy of the statement on how the 23rd Psalm plays an important part in my life. We didn't discuss these directly, but I felt my prayers were answered when in subsequent messages he indicated his spiritual faith.

I am so grateful that I was able to spend one last time with Reed. Thanks to Laurie for arranging our visit and to our son Eric, who drove us to Santa Rosa. Jo-an, Eric, and I were able to visit with him. We had a good visit and I was able to thank him for the years of friendship and leadership. I'll never forget our parting handshake. What grips! We held them for some time. It became emotional when Reed didn't want to let go of my hand, nor I his.

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2007 C.A.R.E.

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