Donald Franz Buhler
Funeral services for local ranch owner Don Buhler, 88, who died Monday, March 19, 2007, will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 24, at Joseph United Methodist Church. A reception will follow at 1 p.m. at the Buhler Ranch at the foot of Mount Joseph near Joseph will follow. A full obituary will be published next week.
Wallowa County Chieftain – March 22, 2007
Contributed By: Sue Wells
Donald Franz Buhler, real estate developer and local rancher, died in Portland on March 19, 2007, at the age of 88. During his final weekend, he was surrounded by his grandchildren.
Don was born on August 24, 1918, in Polson, Montana, in a house that his father, a lumber yard owner, built near Flathead Lake. Shortly thereafter, his parents, Jake and Anna, and his little sister, Marjorie, headed west to Los Angeles. At L.A. High, Don met future bride, Virginia Reed.
During those teenage years, Don’s intellectual curiosity and spirit of adventure drew him to numerous activities.
He joined youth groups, was a star member of the drama club, took elocution classes and practiced public speaking, among other activities.
He was also a member of the Pages, a philanthropic young men’s organization, and he was appointed youth director at First Methodist Church L.A. During that time, his faith strengthened and became a driving force in his life.
In 1940, while at UCLA, he married his high school sweetheart, Virginia (Ginny), and after graduation, they moved to Illinois where he attended Northwestern University Seminary School.
He later transferred to the School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif., became a chaplain in the navy, and was stationed to Jacksonville, Fla., until the end of WWII.
When the family returned to Los Angeles, Don left the ministry to become a builder, but maintained an active involvement in the church throughout the rest of his life. Don’s pioneering spirit led him to want to develop land and he built custom homes all over the hills of Los Angeles, including his own, where he and Ginny raised their three children, Leslie, Allison, and Christopher.
Despite his city living, Don was, at heart, an outdoorsman. His love of the outdoors, particularly the Northwest, led him to buy a ranch in Wallowa Valley in 1956. Don played an active role in his new community in Oregon as well.
He, along with Alvin Josephy and Jack McClaren, established the Chief Joseph Summer Seminar (CJSS), which was held at the Buhler Ranch, and has continued for 48 years. Don was also an active member of the Rotary Club, and the United Methodist Church in Joseph.
Don Buhler was a complex man; he was a rugged outdoorsman who greatly valued higher education, a successful businessman who took risks, a workaholic who loved his family deeply.
Don’s flying was considered among his family and life-long friends as a metaphor for the way he lived his life, passionately and full speed ahead. They describe him as self-reliant and adventurous, intellectual and hard-driving, a true pioneer.
Funeral services were held on Saturday, March 24, at the Methodist Church in Joseph. Don was buried on the ranch property, next to his beloved wife. He is survived by three children, seven grandchildren (Christine, Allison, Matt, Jake, Kathryn, Reed, and April), and ten great-grandchildren (Rachel, Nicholas, Noah, Kayla, Rebecca, Benjamin, Eli, Atticus, and Tennyson).
Wallowa County Chieftain – March 29, 2007
Contributed By: Sue Wells