Robert Douglas Buffington II

May 29, 1946 - Aug 9, 2021

East Lawn Sierra Hills Memorial Park
5757 Greenback Lane
Sacramento, CA, 95841

Obituary

In memory of Dr. Robert Buffington

Born 29 May 1946; died 9 Aug 2021

Bob Buffington was a native Californian whose ancestry is traced to pre-Gold Rush California. Born in Berkeley, he was raised by Doug and Maxine Buffington in Lafayette, CA. Bob attended Acalanes High School, and was an Eagle Scout with Troop 204. After completing classes at Diablo Valley Community College, Bob transferred to UC Davis, where he not only completed his degree in Biology, but met Miss Martha Heckman.

Bob and Martha were married in 1968, and Martha gave birth to Robert Randall Buffington. After a brief consideration of dental school (from his accounting, the sound of the drill was disturbing), the family moved to Forest Grove, OR, where Bob was enrolled at Pacific University where he earned a degree in Optometry. Upon graduation in 1971, Bob resettled the family in Sacramento, where he began practicing Optometry. 

It should be pointed out that Bob’s guidance counselor in high school, after having considered his grades and standardized test scores, suggested a career in construction.  As with many men of his age, Bob appeared to blossom at university. And while his high school academic record was far from stellar, his college scores, including graduate school, were stunning. In fact, he graduated second in his class from Pacific.

Bob was an unsettled spirit with an all-consuming passion for optometry and methods to make optometry more effective. By 1973, he was in his own private practice on Florin Rd, and he and Martha had a second son, Matthew Louis Buffington. It was over the next 10 years that Bob’s focus on orthokeratology established his distinction from standard optometry. This method used rigid gas permeable lenses (RGPs for short) to reshape the patient’s cornea, much like how braces work on teeth. This meant the patient could wear the lenses for periods of time, then remove them, and see perfectly well. Using this technique, he helped thousands of people improve their vision, and as a result, keep their employment. Not perfectly satisfied with the technique, Bob pushed the boundaries further by installing a modification lab in his office where contact lenses could be shaped while the patient waited; later he patented the technique and equipment used for this process (US Patent 4798460).  Bob enjoyed the challenge of optometry, and helping people see better. He often worked weekends to see out of town patients, patients that came from 45 states in the US, and 8 countries outside the US.  As a result of his hard work, it is estimated he completed some 76,000 exams from 1971 until his retirement in 2007.

Bob Buffington’s commitment to his patients was matched by his love for his family and his staff. Staff members stayed with him for decades in some cases, and became part of an extended family and network of caring individuals.

Bob and Martha loved to travel the world and experience other cultures and art forms.  This love of travel took him and Martha to six continents between 1976 and 2009.  They both felt that you can only really appreciate where you live by seeing the world and getting perspective. Bob and Martha were gourmets as well, frequently dining out in Sacramento whenever they could. Additionally, Bob was an outdoorsman, with a love of camping, exploring, and shooting in the Sierra Nevada mountains. In the mid 1980’s Bob and Martha bought the first of two homes at Lake Almanor (Plumas Co) where many weekends were spent until 2010. An avid water skier, Bob enjoyed being on the lake with his sons and their friends as much as possible.

Bob’s life was also full of challenges, which he met head on. In 1989, his older son Randy suffered congestive heart failure. Nearing death, Randy was placed on a list for a heart transplant, which was accomplished 6 Oct 1989. Needless to say, this fundamentally altered the course of the family and its values. Diets changed and so did exercise. Bob could be seen every day riding his stationary bike to remain fit and trim; in fact, he wore out three such bikes from 1989 to 1995.  During a trip in to Maui in 1987, Bob suffered a disastrous fall from a quarter-horse at full gallop. The resulting back injury would plague him for the rest of his life, becoming very acute over the last 10 years. The year 2009 was a particularly dark chapter in Bob’s life; in June of that year, Martha passed away at the age of 63; Randy followed her two months later at the age of 43. Despite these losses, and the increasing pain from his spinal injury, Bob persevered in a heroic fashion. Limited mobility changed his life, but he was still able to travel to see his son Matt in Washington DC on a regular basis, as well as some limited travel elsewhere.

Bob is survived by his sister Jan Morrison, his son Matthew Buffington, daughter-in-law Lourdes Chamorro, and grandchildren Theodore Buffington, Nicole Buffington, Riley Buffington, Stryker Buffington and Petra Lacayo-Chamorro. Bob was a centerpiece in all their lives and will be greatly missed.

Bob lived by certain codes established by scientists and authors he admired. Two quotes rise to the top of this list:’ Face reality, and proceed on principle’ stated by Louis Pasteur was oft quoted, as well as “A man that can count five friends on one hand, that will stick with them through thick and thin, is, my son, a lucky man” by Rudyard Kipling.  I can say without reservation that Bob Buffington did indeed proceed on principle in every aspect of his amazing life, and I can also say he’d need more than one hand to count all the people in his life that would fit Kipling’s definition of a friend.

Guestbook

  • John Lill says:

    Wonderful tribute to a life well-lived. So sorry for your loss.

  • Gino Nearns says:

    Lovely tribute, I enjoyed meeting Don Bob a few years ago, so sorry for your loss.

  • Ben Berry says:

    A fitting eulogy. I know his memory will always be with you, and a source of pride in his accomplishments. Our thoughts are with you.

  • Garry Watts says:

    My Sincerest Condolences to the Family A Great Man passed through my Life and I am eternally Greatful

  • Kojo Yelpaala says:

    A great man: gifted, talented and dedicated to the pursuit of excellence.
    My deepest condolences to the family.

  • Dell Carter says:

    Dr. B was such a great Man , every time we see each other at the cigar shop he would love for me to tell him crazy stories that happens at my job. I will miss him.

  • Magic says:

    It was a pleasure to care for Dr. B. I also learned so much about the world of optometry and was able to meet wonderful people who are a part of his close circle. His stories of life and travel were wonderful and endless. He will be missed

  • Cathy Lane says:

    I just found out about Dr. B’s passing last August, but I wanted to share my relationship with this wonderful man.

    Dr. B was my eye doctor for about 36 years, I met him when I had been told, at 35 years old, I was a potential candidate for 2 cornea transplants if I didn’t find a different way to deal with a rare cornea situation. I heard his ad on the radio one day, called and made an appointment. He changed my life! He handled my situation so that I avoided the transplants, gave me vastly improved vision with his specialized contact lenses, so I could travel on with my life, seeing where I was going! ….every time I saw him, I thanked him! He oversaw my care until he retired….We chatted about the grandkids, his wife, his son who had the heart transplant and all the travels he and Martha took around the world. He loved people and life and travel AND being an eye doctor. I will ALWAYS thank him for what he did for me and miss him. He was a good man, father, husband and an extraordinary eye doctor! My life was better for knowing him.

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