By SHANE T. FARLEY
A transplanted New Englander who spent the final two years of his life chronicling Cowley County history for the Winfield Daily Courier has died.
Howard Buffum - the Courier's "Around and About" columnist - died Saturday after a bout with cancer. He was 76.
A newspaperman in Massachusetts for more than 40 years, Buffum moved to Winfield six years ago after spending a portion of his retirement in Florida. He and wife Buffy lived in the Lagonda Apartments.
Buffum's relationship with the Courier did not start off on the most pleasant footing.
Two and a half years ago, the news veteran sent a critique of the Courier to the newsroom. The letter blasted the contents of the paper.
Publisher Dave Seaton invited Buffum to meet with the news staff for what was a testy but profitable meeting.
Buffum continued to write to the paper, and his correspondence caught the attention of then Managing Editor Stewart Huntington who asked Buffum to join the staff as a columnist.
Huntington called the move to bring Buffum on board "one of the best things I ever did" as editor of the newspaper.
Buffum joined the news staff about two years ago and crafted nearly 60 stories many of which focused on elder Winfielders' accounts of days gone by. The stories came at an average of one every two weeks. Buffum, though, did not work on a fixed deadline due to his health. He had respiratory problems and suffered from emphysema.
Buffum's work for the Courier was made all the more impressive by the fact that he did it all for free. He never asked to be paid a salary.
"Dave Seaton asked me what I expected to be paid, and I said I would not accept a salary," he once said. "It's not that I couldn't use the money, but I wanted these (stories) to be my gift to the community."
In late February Buffum authored his final column for this newspaper. He shared a personal letter he had written to his grandchildren telling them of his terminal cancer and warning them of the dangers of smoking.
"I started smoking when I was 16 and continued to smoke for more than 40 years," he said in the letter. "I quit when my doctor discovered emphysema in my lungs. He told me that if I didn't quit I'd be dead within 10 years."
Seaton expressed sadness over Buffum's death but was appreciative of the work he had done for newspaper.
"Howard's contributions to the Courier and the community have helped us all become more aware of Winfield's rich history and the colorful individuals who have made it," Seaton said in a written statement this morning. "We will always be grateful to him and his family."
In Winfield, Buffum was a member of the First United Methodist Church, its Methodist Men's Fellowship, the Mizpah-Seekers Sunday school class and the Senior Adult Fellowship, and he assisted in writing the church's twice-monthly newsletter.
He was also a participant in the elementary schools' volunteer tutors' program. Since 1995 he helped children at Irving improve their skills.
A fourth-generation newspaperman, Buffum was born Feb. 23, 1925, in Worcester, Mass., while his father, Jesse H. Buffum, was a features reporter/photographer for the Worcester Telegram.
In September 1944, four months after graduating from Mount Hermon School in Northfield, Mass., he joined the news staff of the North Adams (Mass.) Transcript. After stints as general assignment reporter and radio newscaster, he became suburban editor in charge of some 22 correspondents and part-time reporters in northern Berkshire County, Mass., southern Vermont and northwestern Franklin County, Mass.
From 1962 to 1967 Buffum served as news editor of the Daily Hampshire Gazette and in that capacity supervised all news and photo coverage and oversaw the composing room. He was employed for by the Worcester Telegram & The Evening Gazette of Northampton as a news editor.
For the next 22 years he worked at the Springfield (Mass.) Daily News and then at the Union-News after the Springfield Union and the Springfield Daily News merged.
Survivors include his wife, Gladys "Buffy" Buffum, Winfield; two sons, Brian D. Buffum, Winfield, and Bruce M. Buffum, Tulsa; two daughters, Nancy B. Vinelli, Tulsa, and Althea M. "Toby" Mattics, Prescott Valley, Ariz.; nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Miles Funeral Service will announce arrangements.