Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Frank "Buck" Shaffer

photo by Esther Avila, 10/17/2006

It seemed like lately, every time I was in Porterville, I would run into Buck Shaffer -- at the grocery store, the post office, the pharmacy and even at the AAA automobile club. Each time, he would always smile and extend his hand and say, "Well, Esther Avila. What are you doing here?" -- always in his same voice. I would say the same thing, "Well, Buck Shaffer. It is so good to see you." We always talked for a few minutes and he'd tell me how proud he was of me. And I'd tell him how much I admired him.

I love Buck Shaffer. I always have.
I have known Buck since I was 10. (But he talked to me for the first time when I was 7. I lived near the corner of Orange and G Streets, just down the street from the PHS bandroom and I often ran outside to see the band march by. He'd always say hello to me and I will always remember how he took the time to talk to me.) I marched in his Porterville Panther Band 1972-1976 and considered him a hero in my life. I adore the man.

I've also had the privilege of writing some wonderful stories about him over the past several years. Early this year, I had the honor of writing the story when he was the recipient of the Freedom of Spirit Award. If you have not seen the story, I highly recommend it -- the things that this one man has done are amazing.

After his retirement, he kept teaching music.
This man has done more for music in Porterville than anyone else I've ever known.

I interviewed him last week (10/17) about a trip he was planning for Saturday -- a day dubbed "Buck Shaffer Day" in his original hometown of Shinnston, W. VA. He was going to play a concert there and assist in the opening of a music wing of their new museum.

When he returned, we planned on getting together next Tuesday to continue another interview that he requested. So imagine my shock when I got the call that he had suffered a stroke on Sunday. I cried for a few minutes and then got myself together and went to work on writing a story about it.

I was touched to see the outpouring of love and support from across the nation. Buck Shaffer is certainly loved by many.

my dear friend died on Dec. 1, 2006 -- please go to www.buckshaffer.com for stories.


  1. I'm sorry to hear about your friend, Esther. I hope he has a complete recovery.

  2. Thank you, Jeff. This man is amazing and has touched and is loved by thousands of people across the nation. I'm just thrilled I had the opportunity to be one of them. I visit him daily in the hospital and will continue to do so.
    Thanks again.

  3. I can hear the love you have for this man, Esther. Hope he recovers quickly.

  4. Thank you, Joanne.

  5. Ester - I am very sorry to hear that Buck died yesterday. He influenced my life in many ways. I was the Band Drum Major the first year he taught in Porterville. (1953-54) Many stories could be told of those early beginnings. I understand he wrote a book. How does one get a copy? I will be posting some band stories on my Picasa site: http://picasaweb.google.com/kaptkimo -- in the "Jim - pre 1958 album". Thank you for a great blog.

  6. Dana Bonds Phillips10:44 AM

    Rest in Peace Buck. You were a great man and a tremendous influence on many, many lives. The world is not quite as bright a place now. Your little guys and gals will remember you forever.

    God speed and may the Angels enjoy your Stars and Stripes forever being played from on high.

    1. Mary Waltz Filippi8:58 PM

      Yes Dan, I too remember Buck with much affection. He treated his guys and gals as respected members of society, his society of band members. I loved this man as a second Dad and so look forward to hearing him tell not only me buy many, many others that he was proud of us. Something some of us did not hear at home. Rest in peace dear one. You have left a treasure trove of wonderful memories for us kids.

  7. Anonymous6:21 AM

    Buck Shaffer will never be forgotten. I was an Orange Blossom for him in 1971. Many wonderful band trips and experiences.

  8. Jim & Carol - thank you - Are you from Hawaii? I think I remember talking to you after Buck died. Did you ever get a book? Let me know. The last box was given to the museum and I believe they have a few left.
    Skip and I are working on another little Museum-type book about Buck.

    Dana: Amen.

    1971 Orange Blossom: Yes, he left so many of us with so many wonderful memories.

  9. Esther, I've enjoyed your notes. I was a student of Buck's in trumpet from 5th grade through 8th grade, and played in the Panther and Studio Bands 1967-1971 (well, in '67 I was in the brand new Monache Band until they split the class in '68). I have great memories and the undying respect for Buck and his immense heart and professionalism. Warmly, Phil

  10. One day during band practice, I had to blow my nose. Buck pulled the entire band down, said "little feller, could you please blow on key!"
    I would have never made it to World's Fair, except for BUCK SHAFFER. What a guy!