Endowed Memorial Scholarship to be named in honor of former instructor
Many of A.F. Tony Buffo’s former students at Arkansas City Junior College (now Cowley College) have never forgotten the impact Buffo had on their lives. Thus, it is with great pride that an Endowed Memorial Scholarship has been established in his memory.
Buffo, who passed away earlier this year, was passionate about teaching. Ask any of his former students at what was then Arkansas City Junior College (ACJC), 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.
“He was so proud that he could help provide lifetime jobs for the students,” Buffo’s wife, Wilda, said.
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.
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.”
Dan Kahler started as an English teacher and assistant basketball coach at Arkansas City Junior College in 1951 and got to know Mr. Buffo well during his first two years at ACJC.
“I thought of Tony as teaching a profession, he was teaching the kids to be professionals,” Kahler said.
Kahler, who served as the principal at Arkansas City High School from 1959-1962 and was a principal at six schools in two states, thought the world of Mr. Buffo.
“I never worked with a teacher better than Tony Buffo,” Kahler said. “Kids just venerated him because of his knowledge.”
Richard Cox was a former student of Buffo’s and graduated from ACJC in 1950. He credits Buffo’s encouragement with helping him return to teaching and finishing his master’s degree.
“The turning point in my life was Tony Buffo, he created a passion in me for the printing industry and all it had to offer,” Cox said. “The students admired him, myself included.”
Cox can still remember the excitement of watching the linotype drop each matrix into line, and each line moving over for the lockup and casting operation, and distribution of mats back into the magazine.
Buffo earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Kansas State College in 1944, and a Master of Science from Kansas State College in 1947. He earned additional graduate credits at Kansas State College, Columbia University, the University of Michigan, and Wichita State University.
Prior to teaching at ACJC, he was a teacher at the Arkansas City High School/Junior High from 1947-1956, and served as the Director of Industrial-Vocational Education for USD 470 from 1956-1966.
In 1966, Buffo was hired by the college as dean of vocationaltechnical 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.
He also served as president and held other offices for several local and state-wide professional organizations, while also serving on the North Central Association accreditation team, which evaluated community colleges in North Dakota, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado.
Buffo was actively involved in the Arkansas City community and received a Community Leaders of America award in 1974, and Outstanding Educator of America award in 1975. His community work involved serving as a member of the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce from 1970-1972; Board of Directors member for the Rotary Club from 1973-1976, while serving as Rotary Club president from 1974-1975; consultant for the Kansas State Association of Commerce and Industry in 1968; chairman for the Evaluation Team for the Arkansas City Chamber of Commerce in 1974; served on the Board for the Sacred Heart Church in 1972; was a member of the American Legion Boy’s State committee; counselor for Boy Scouts of America; was a recipient of a summer study scholarship awarded by the Arkansas City Academy of Medicine; and was a member of the Kansas State Manpower Planning Division Task Force, Area II, in 1975.
He also contributed to several professional journals and newspapers, while serving one year as a moderator for a series of weekly radio panel shows.
Several students of Buffo’s went on to successful careers in the printing business, including Fred Menefee (Class of 1950), Young Snodgrass (Class of 1956), Ralph Speer (Class of 1966), and Marty Gilliland (attended Cowley in 1973 and 1974) to name a few. Many others, including Benjamin O’ Baker, Cecil Hawkins, Ron Corkins, Wayne Hayes, and Ernie Hartman went on to a variety of successful careers.
“With the training I received in Mr. Buffo’s classes and after school activities, I was prepared to move on,” Snodgrass said.
These successful graduates along with many others benefited from the work done by Buffo to build a strong printing program at Cowley College.
“He made printing a legend in Ark City,” Kahler said.
Buffo’s honor students at Arkansas City Junior High were invited for induction and membership into The Pied Typers, while his students at Arkansas City High School and Arkansas City Junior College were invited for induction and membership into The Printers Guild. Students must have maintained at least a “B” grade in printing and a “C” or higher grade in all other subjects.
Wilda Buffo said her husband lived and breathed Cowley and the success of his students.
“The college meant everything to him,” Wilda said. “He loved teaching and practiced it in everything he did.”
To make a contribution to the A.F. Tony Buffo Endowed Memorial Scholarship, contact Shannon Massey at 620-441-5319, or Steve McCann at 620-441-5291.