Former Cowley instructor influenced many students
A.F. Tony Buffo was passionate about teaching. Ask any of his former students at what was then Arkansas City Junior College, and they’d probably tell you that he instilled in them a foundation for a strong work ethic, respect for their fellow student, and the desire to do what’s right. Buffo prepared students for real-life experiences, real jobs that paid real money. And many of his former students never have forgotten the impact Buffo had on their lives.
In 1966, Buffo was hired by the college as dean of vocational-technical education and director of the area vocational-technical school, a position he held until 1970. From 1970 to 1973, Buffo served as dean of general education and occupational education. And from 1973 until his retirement in 1985, Buffo served as dean of instruction. Buffo had considerable expertise in vocational education. He was brought to Washington, D.C., by then-President Lyndon Johnson as a consultant to a presidential commission charged with studying and recommending changes to the advisory committee responsible for developing the new Vocational Education Act of 1968. He was one of only eight vocational education directors from across the U.S. selected for this duty in June 1967.
Fred Menefee, a 1950 graduate of ACHS and 1952 graduate of the college, holds Buffo in highest regard. He was about to drop the printing class he was taking from Buffo’s predecessor when he learned Buffo was going to be taking over the printing program.
Menefee had taken printing and linotype classes from Buffo for three years while at Arkansas City High School plus 20 credit hours at ACJC.
“Mr. Buffo influenced a lot of us because he applied knowledge gained in the printing trade and the military,” Menefee said. “The moment you hit the door you were there to learn. He was very compassionate and was one of the major influences in my life.”
Menefee, who went on to earn a degree from Wichita State University, worked for McCormick-Armstrong in Wichita for 39 years.
Buffo had such an influence on Menefee that the former student dedicated a restored Intertype Compositor to Buffo. The Intertype, which was the last generation of linotypes, sits in the Peabody Printing Museum in Peabody, Kansas. The museum is a collection of hot type equipment dating from 1870 to 1920. The intertype was dedicated in Buffo’s honor about eight years ago.
Menefee has fond memories of the field trips Buffo would take his classes on, some of which included day trips to the Wichita Beacon, Wichita Eagle, McCormick Armstrong, and the Arkansas City Traveler.
“He introduced me to journalism and led me into photography,” Menefee said. “He was always working to make us learn something other than printing.”
After graduating from Wichita State, Menefee went to work for Associated Advertising Agency. He later accepted an offer to be an Agency Manager at McCormick Armstrong in 1964. In 1975 he bought one-half interest in the agency and purchased the other half five yeas later.
As owner of the McCormick Armstrong Ad Agency division, he changed the name to Menefee and Partners Inc. He continued to work until retiring in 2003.
His work earned him several awards including a pair of Clio Awards for television commercials he produced. Menefee estimates he produced between 30-40 television commercials, most of which were award winners at the local, state regional and national levels. He also produced a few films and print media ads.
Anita (Belew) and Marvin McCorgary both graduated from Cowley, Anita in 1959 and Marvin in 1960. Since graduation they have been in the printing business all of their working lives. Anita is president of Airport Printing Service, a company they established in 1980, and Marvin retired from Taylor Publishing Company in May, 2000 after more than 30 years of service with that firm. They feel that Cowley, and the outstanding faculty members, provided a solid foundation for their continued education and work experiences.
Marvin was first introduced to printing in the ninth grade when he began a general printing class as his shop requirement. His instructor was Tony Buffo from whom Marvin’s interest in the printing field continued to grow. Marvin took printing classes throughout high school and even continued his college education at Pittsburg State University. His decision to attend Pittsburg State and major in Printing Technology/Management was influenced by Buffo, who himself was a graduate of Pittsburg State. Today, Marvin is still associated with the university where he serves on the National Advisory Council for the Kansas Technology Center on the campus of Pittsburg State.
Marvin remembers well his education under Mr. Buffo.
“He was a great teacher, but he was tough on you if you missed his class, or for that matter any class,” McCorgary said. “He conducted the classes as if it was a job and you were required to be there, especially if you were in the upper classes, junior, senior and the junior college level. During this phase of “advanced printing classes”, the class work was conducted as if it was a printing business. We were assigned job titles and those titles had certain responsibilities.”
In this format, there was a Production Manager, General Make Ready Foreman, Composition Foreman, Press Foreman and then each hourly class would have a Foreman whose responsibility was to keep the shop neat and orderly and overseeing “clean up” at the end of each class period. The Foreman could also assist in answering questions for some of the beginning students.
“In this class work we produced the school newspaper, and many other items for the school system,” McCorgary said. “We had design contests where a person would create sort of an advertising slogan and then complete the printed product in its entirety. We not only were graded on class work but also on how we performed our job duties.”
After graduating from Pittsburg State, Marvin taught vocational printing and journalism before entering the Printing Industry. His first management experience was with Jostens where he was responsible for the successful implementation of the world’s first computerized typesetting system. This new system utilized the IBM 1130 computer and the Photon 713 Photo Composer. He later joined Taylor Publishing Company in Dallas and completed his career in May, 2000 retiring as Vice-president and General Manager where his duties included responsibilities for manufacturing plants in California, Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas.
When Anita decided to return to work fulltime she and Marvin opened Airport Printing Service. The operation began as a small one press quick printer and steadily grew in volume and equipment where it remains one of the largest commercial printers in El Paso, Texas. Currently the company utilizes the most modern computer to printing plate technology with a complete assortment of printing and binding equipment including a 40” 6 color press a 28” 5 color press and numerous smaller presses.
Another highly successful individual that was influenced by Buffo was Young Snodgrass, who had Buffo as his printing teacher from the eighth grade through graduation from ACJC in 1956.
Snodgrass said Buffo’s classes taught students what they needed to know to go to work as printers. While in Buffo’s class, Snodgrass learned to run a typesetting machine, Linotype machine, presses, paper cutters and other graphic arts equipment. He also learned from Buffo how to take a part and repair a Hot Metal Typesetter.
“We learned the skills and responsibility to do a complete job in a commercial printing plant,” Snodgrass said.
After graduation from ACJC, Snodgrass took a job as a newspaper printer in Grand Junction, Colorado. While working in Grand Junction he was offered the opportunity to purchase an existing commercial printing business. In running the business he became familiar with other shop owners around the state of Colorado and was elected to the Board of Directors of the Printing Industry of Colorado.
In 1965 he sold the business and took a job as a sales representative for the Intertype Division of the Harris Corporation, a major manufacturer of printing equipment. The Intertype Company manufactured and sold typesetting equipment.
He was later asked to move to Chicago to become the Assistant District Manager and later was promoted to District Manager where he was responsible for the sales, support, training and spare parts for Intertype equipment throughout 13-Midwestern States.
However, as technology moved on, the company elected to phase out of the typesetting business and in 1978 Snodgrass moved on to the Semiconductor Industry (high technology). The Semiconductor Industry is based upon photography (photolithography).
“With the training I received in Mr. Buffo’s classes and after school activities, I was prepared to move on,” Snodgrass said.
Semiconductor work has taken him around the world where he is often called upon to meet with engineers and executives that need to talk about products and projects that may not be available for sale for three to five-years in the future.
Another student that took classes at Cowley and became successful in the printing business was Marty Gilliland. Although he did not have Buffo as an instructor, he benefited from the printing program that Buffo formed at the school.
Gilliland attended Cowley during the 1973-74 school year and went on to graduate from Kansas State University in 1977. He served in management in the printing production of the Josten’s Yearbook Co. for five years before working at Gilliland Printing for the next 20 years. He has served as the West Coast sales manager for United Graphics, Inc. for the past five years.
Gilliland has given many book printing presentations to publishing groups throughout the west coast. His most challenging project was producing a very high end - coffee table quality - cookbook for a prestigious Bay Area publisher. The cookbook was comprised of 300 pages of professionally taken color photographs and the reproduction of the photographs had to be spot on.
“The customer couldn't have been happier with the results,” Gilliland said.
Gilliland has had the opportunity to work with celebrities and their publishing companies, such as Yvonne Craig who played "Bat Woman" in the '60's TV series, child actor Ernie Weckbaugh who starred as "Stinky" in the “Our Gang” series and game show host Wink Martindale.
In 1994, Gilliland was building his sales territory in southern California and he invited a number of prospective publishing customers to attend a free, one-day seminar on book production technology.
The event was highly successful and at the end of the day, the attendees decided that they would like to form an official organization that would meet on a monthly basis. From that became the Publishers & Writers of San Diego. The group has met every month for the past 13 years networking publishers and giving them the opportunity to grow through shared knowledge.
These successful graduates along with many others benefited from the work done by Buffo to build a strong printing program at Cowley College.
Wilda Buffo said her husband lived and breathed Cowley in an article that appeared in the June 2003 Alumni News.
“The college was always his business, his life,” Wilda said. “He took care of things at the college as if they belonged to him.”