GEORGE NICHOLAS BUFFINGTON

Obituary
5 entries | 1 photo
  • "Nick, You were one wonderful brother-in-law who contributed..."
    - William Schaeffer
  • "Nick, we love you with all our heart, we miss you a lot,..."
    - Flor Daz
  • "Nick.. We miss you so much. . We always think of you..."
    - Nancy Diaz
  • "We have just learned of Nick's passing, and Ann and I..."
    - Bruce and Ann Lane
  • "Nick, you are my dearest, my one-and-only husband, and now..."
    - Pamela C. S. Buffington
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GEORGE NICHOLAS BUFFINGTON IN LOVING MEMORY George Nicholas Buffington, cowboy, lawyer, and author, died on November 9, 2013, at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was 87. Infinitely curious and always youthful, with boundless energy and a broad range of interests, Nick packed a great deal into "The Hyphen" between 1926 and 2013 . . . Nick was born in Evanston, Illinois, the second of three children, to Sarah Louise Buffington and George Nicholas Buffington. An enthusiastic Western-style horseback rider from the age of 4, Nick also attended the Farm School System - in which education was taught to Grades 1-4 in one-room country schoolhouses. Restless and dyslexic, long before dyslexia was commonly understood, Nick attended five additional Midwestern schools before his parents sent him East, hoping that by age 15 he was ready for a serious education. It was 1941, and Nick lasted one year plus summer school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Nick's greatest recollection of his time at Andover - besides his frequent escapades - was when the Headmaster interrupted class to announce the beginning of World War II, saying "Gentlemen, the age of the playboy is over." Eager to join the military - which Nick equated with excitement - he entered Preparatory School for the Naval Academy and West Point. The discipline didn't suit Nick there either, and he next found himself at the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Two months of more misadventures resulted in expulsion again. Finally, having spent family vacations in Arizona and New Mexico, Nick's parents sent him West to the Judson School in Phoenix, where he fell in love with rodeoing and the dude wrangler life at Squaw Peak Ranch. Book learning took a definite back seat to bronc riding, calf roping, team tying, and dreaming of someday having his own ranch in Silver City, New Mexico. Some of these experiences would be captured over half a century later in his first novel, Virgin Spring. At age 17, with parental permission, Nick joined the U. S. Navy from 1944-1946. He trained to be an Aviation Radioman-Gunner in TBM Avenger torpedo bombers in the Navy Air Corps, but by the time he was set with his PBM squadron in Corpus Christi, Texas, World War II ended. Nick was tremendously disappointed he was never able to see "action." With both the war and his teenage years over, Nick moved into a boarding house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and attended a "cram school," where he made up 3 years' worth of high school in half that time. When he applied to Harvard, he discovered that the new Dean of Admissions was the same history teacher who had kicked him out of Andover. Harvard Dean Wilbur Bender declared, "Nick Buffington will be admitted over my dead body!" Nonetheless, Nick entered Harvard College in 1947. By the second year he was on the Honor Roll, and by the third year had accelerated to graduate with the Class of 1950. He then went to Harvard Law School, graduating with the Class of 1953. Nick belonged to the Owl Club, and was a member of the Harvard Club of NYC for over 50 years. G. N. Buffington, Esq., began his career as an attorney specializing in Federal tax matters. He became licensed to practice law in three jurisdictions - Massachusetts, Washington, D. C., and New York. From 1957-1961 he worked on international taxes at the United States Treasury Department. He also collaborated with the Assistant Treasury Secretary designing tax reform proposals, many of which were later implemented by Ronald Reagan in the 1986 Tax Reform Act. He spent 7 years as Tax Counsel and Assistant Treasurer at International Paper Company. He was Trustee and Secretary of the Boston office of North American Mortgage Investors, and in 1971 moved to Washington, D. C., as Executive Vice President and General Counsel at the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts. His final years of employment were as Of Counsel at the law firms of Fulbright & Jaworski and Lane & Edson. Disenchanted with the practice of law, which he felt had become greedy and no longer collegial, Nick retired to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Here he wrote four books of fiction: Virgin Spring - A Southwest Story of Romance and Adventure (published in 2001); Apache Casino (which was published in 2006 and won the 2007 New Mexico Book Award); The Patriarch - A Novel of Corruption and Terrorism, Love and Loss (published in 2007 and awarded Editor's Choice); and High Tide. (still to be edited). Nick loved the high-tech world, but continued to be a voracious reader of hardcover books as well as an inveterate crossword puzzler. Along with his mug of coffee, he devoured The New York Times, The New Yorker, and numerous literary and left-wing magazines. A long-time compassionate liberal, Nick was politically engaged with informed opinions, and his great sense of humor frequently acknowledged life's absurdities. In addition to bareback riding, Nick was a guitarist, lifeguard-certified swimmer, sailor, skier, runner, tennis player, and excellent figure skater - from the 1950s to 1970 he was a member of the Washington Figure Skating Club and the Skating Club of New York City at Madison Square Garden. Nick Buffington was married in 1947 to Alice Hall, with whom he had three children: George, Anne, and John. In 1965, he married Patricia Richards, with whom he had son Michael. Both his previous marriages ended in divorce. In 1972, in New York City, Nick met and promptly married Pamela Cady Schaeffer, the love of his life for 41 years. Along with his wife Pamela, of Santa Fe, Nick is survived by his four children: George Buffington, of San Francisco, California; Anne Buffington, of Little Falls, New York, and Brewster, Massachusetts; John Buffington, of Princeton, Massachusetts; and Michael Buffington, of Rio Rancho. In addition, he leaves four grandchildren: Camille and Adam Kardash, Jessica Buffington, and Luke Buffington, as well as several nieces and nephews. Nick is also survived by his sister Anne Cole, of Lincoln and Sippewissett, Massachusetts, and Delray Beach, Florida; and sister Drucilla Buffington, of Arlington, Massachusetts, and Delray Beach, Florida. Nick faced his many significant health challenges admirably - with exceptional courage, hope, and good humor. The family would like to thank the staff of the PMS Hospice Center, especially nurse Ken Peterson, for his wise and compassionate care. Memorial donations may be made in Nick's name to his favorite nonprofit organizations: The Hospice Center, 1400 Chama Avenue, Santa Fe, NM 87505; or to Mayo Clinic, 13400 East Shea Boulevard, Scottsdale, AZ 85259.
Published in Santa Fe New Mexican on Feb. 23, 2014
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