FREE obit; used to work here
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Kath Buffington, native of Allegany, died on April 1, 2015.
She was born April 22, 1951 to Richard J. Buffington Sr. and Frances "Jerry" Hungerford Chadderdon. She was married in 1971 and divorced in 1978, "glad to have had the experience."
A graduate of Homestead High School in Sunnyvale, Calif., she graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University in urban elementary education and psychology with a Master of Science from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Kath worked variously as an educator, peace organizer, environmentalist, journalist and program director. A friend's words might explain why she was never content with a single career: "Most of us try to shoehorn 'making a difference' in around the rest of our life. Kath was the opposite; making a difference was what she was all about." Kath identified Girl Scouts as a vital source for how she lived her life. She loved the Girl Scout combination of service, music, international friendship, crafts, nature, and ethical team work; she often volunteered with them.
An inimitable, compassionate, headstrong and principled spirit, Kath taught K-12 in Syracuse, Olean (Montessori Children's House and St. John's where she was 1985 Outstanding Teacher of the Year) and on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Always going above and beyond, she brought seven Pine Ridge students east on an ambitious Lakota-Seneca exchange. Summers on staff at Girl Scout camps were followed by summer environmental education jobs, as Allegany State Park naturalist, Center for Coastal Studies curriculum developer, buffalo jeep safari guide in South Dakota, and more. In the 80s she worked for and volunteered with the American Friends Service Committee and the Syracuse Peace Council. Often on the front lines of activism, one of her arrests was for a deliberate act of civil disobedience against South African apartheid. She traveled as a peace activist in Europe and, shortly after a brain aneurysm, with the Second India Women's Delegation.
She wrote for The Bradford Era beginning in the 80s, receiving several statewide individual and team journalism awards. She taught journalism and conflict resolution at St. Bonaventure University and writing, tech skills, line dancing, and environmental science at North Country Community College in the Adirondacks. Kath was the Traffic Safety Program Coordinator for the Allegany County Sheriff's Department from 1998 to 2005, receiving the 2001 New York State Highway Safety Commissioner's Award.
Kath shared her mother's beautiful voice, sang in many choirs and played the flute. She sewed personalized items for family and friends and wrote poetry. Kath loved bright colors, science fiction, satire, solstices, salt-rising bread, growing plants, redwoods, buffalo, and music, with a soft spot for Jimmy Buffet and Pete Seeger. She loved to dance and advised, "dance like no one is watching." She volunteered with too many groups to list, served on the Olean Library Board, and spearheaded the four county Twin Tiers Cares with several trips to NYC, delivering more than 7,000 care packages to 9/11 clean-up workers. In recent years she lived in Rochester. Even with painful health challenges, she continued to live life on her terms, organizing charitable knitting groups and improving recycling in various apartment buildings, agitating with phone calls, letters to the editor, at rallies in her wheelchair, and enjoying time with family and dear friends. Just last month she gave a presentation to her niece's first grade class.
She is survived by her mother, Frances "Jerry" Hungerford Chadderdon; her siblings, Lynn (spouse Don Nguyen) Buffington, Rick (spouse Ann) Buffington , Mary Adams and spouse, and very special brother-in-law to Kath, Ricardo; her fiercely and generously loved nieces and nephew, Elizabeth and Jonathan Nguyen, Erin Shoemaker, Sarah and Maya Adams; aunts Mary Hungerford Fitzsimmons and Joanne Buffington; stepfather LaVerne Chadderdon; many cousins: Buffington, Fitzsimmons and Smyke, and many dear friends.
Kath is predeceased by her father, Richard J. Buffington Sr., special grandmother Amelia Gerringer Hungerford, special aunt Patricia Buffington McGrath, beloved cousin Tom Sullivan, whom she helped immensely, aunt Patricia Hungerford Smyke, and uncles Francis, George, Henry, and Robert Buffington.
Kath's extraordinary creativity, intelligence, energy, humor and commitment will be sorely missed. A staunch defender of human rights, she especially advocated for education for girls. In keeping with her wishes, her ashes will be scattered near purple lilacs and donations on the memorial page of the United Palestinian Appeal [http://helpupa.org/ ] will go to scholarships for young women. As she hoped, we will celebrate her life with a potluck picnic, likely mid-afternoon on June 6 or June 13 at Sodus Point Beach and perhaps another near Olean later in the summer, but please check oleanfuneralhome.com for final details.
Published in The Bradford Era from Apr. 17 to Apr. 24, 2015