Charles ("Chet") Cottrell Buffum, died peacefully at home in Westerly, R.I., surrounded by his family on Feb. 10, 2014. The family would like to thank the Westerly Hospital and the Home and Hospice Care of Rhode Island for their wonderful care in the last few days of Chet's life.
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Chet was born on June 25, 1930, to Frederick and Margaret Buffum at the Westerly Hospital. His older siblings, Frederick C. and Robert C. Buffum, predeceased him.
Chet attended the Pomfret School and graduated from the Hatch School in 1948. He graduated from Trinity College, in Hartford, CT, in 1952 with a B.A. in History. While at Trinity, he played squash and was named team captain.
After college, he served in the U.S. Infantry 2nd Division, 9th Regiment of the US Army in the Korean War, from 1952-1954. He served on the front lines.
His early career was in the hotel business, including the Buffum family's Weekapaug Inn, in Weekapaug, R.I., The Commodore Hotel, in NYC, and as an Assistant Manager at the Vinoy Park Hotel, in St. Petersburg, FL.
In 1956, he moved back to Westerly and joined the Washington Trust Company as a loan officer. He moved up the ranks to become Executive Vice President. He served at the bank until 1972, when he founded the Buffum Realty Company. While building his realty practice to operate in both southern Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut, he served on the Washington Trust Board and ran Buffum Cottages Inc., a real estate rental business. During his banking and real estate careers, he also helped his brother Bob with many of the off-season duties involved with running the Weekapaug Inn. He retired in 1996.
Chet was community minded, and active in many local civic organizations: Head of the Board of Trustees at the Pine Point School; President of the Board of YMCA; President of Westerly Pawcatuck Community Fund, Inc.; Volunteer at United Way; Member of the Westerly Lions Club; President of the Westerly/ Pawcatuck Chamber of Commerce; Serve RI Award winner; and Chamber of Commerce Key Award recipient.
Friends and an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) saved Chet's life during a cardiac arrest on the tennis court in September 2002. As a result of that experience, Chet dedicated his time to raising funds to place AEDs throughout the town of Westerly. He co-founded Westerly AED, which placed over 100 AEDs with local police, fire companies, beaches, churches, and sport clubs. Westerly was named the first Heart Safe town in the State of Rhode Island.
Chet was an avid golfer and tennis player, and served on the board of governors and as treasurer of the Misquamicut Club. He enjoyed being on or in the water, swimming, sailing, motor boating, fishing, playing the piano, poker, and his dogs. He also loved sitting on his back porch, viewing the sunset with his family, his friends, and his dog.
He is survived by his wife, Jane M. Buffum, his children: Frederick of Cohasset, MA, Charles of Stonington, CT, Sarah Prud'homme of Brooklyn, NY; and 5 grandchildren.
We will never forget his generosity, honesty, humility, and sense of humor, but most of all his giant heart. We will miss him dearly.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Home and Hospice Care of Rhode Island, or to The Westerly Hospital. Or, in the spirit of Chet, donate an hour of your time to helping others or to simply having fun.
A memorial service will be held Monday, Feb. 17, at 11 a.m., at Christ Church, Westerly, R.I.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the Buckler-Johnston Funeral Home, 121 Main St. Westerly.
Buckler-Johnston Funeral Home
121 Main St. Westerly, RI 02891
Published in The Westerly Sun from Feb. 14 to Mar. 12, 2014