A Tribute to Reed Buffington
Transcript reproduced with the permission of Art Larson
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:
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Return to Table of Contents