Mary Margaret (Higgins) Buford, a beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother whose love of God and country inspired a national award-winning musical composition, quietly passed away Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017, in her home overlooking lovely Long Pond in Ledyard. She was 90.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Aug. 30, 1926, she was the daughter of Robert Fountain Higgins and Mary Nolley Thomason.
Mary married the love of her life, Chester B. "Chet" Buford Jr., in 1948. He passed away in 1994. Mary moved to Ledyard five years ago to be closer to her daughter and son-in-law, Betsy and Bob Graham.
Mary had a full life, sharing her love for God and Country with all she met. Mary shared her life with Chet, as they lived in numerous states: TX, WV, IN, SC, MI, PA, RI and back to TX. She traveled around the country she loved, as well as trips overseas to Israel, The Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia for Christmas with Kathy and her family, and camping in the desert. As Mary's health started to impose its limitations, Mary moved to CT 5 years ago to be near her daughter, Betsy, and son-in-law Bob. With their help and that of Cheyanne, her faithful companion, Mary was still able to travel as she loved to do, making her last trip back to Houston, Texas this past August to join a joyous 90th birthday celebration for her and her cousins, Pricilla Brown and Mary Mabel Clegg. It was a wonderful reunion of family and friends.
Mary was well known for her musical talent and loved to put her devotion into song. She penned many songs around places she loved, holidays, and her faith. Mary was an active member of the Mary Montgomery Chapter of the DAR, when friends suggested she enter a song into the National DAR song contest. She rose to this challenge and wrote "America For Me" winning her a National DAR Song Contest award in 2009.
Over the years Mary was a church secretary for several churches she belonged to. Her love of country took her to a position as librarian at the Freedom Foundation in Valley Forge, PA. While living in RI Mary also was an administrative secretary for the Dean of Library Sciences at URI. During their years in RI, Mary and Chet were instrumental in founding the Coast Guard Academy's Parents Association.
Returning to her beloved state of Texas in the late 1970s, Mary finished her working career as a high school teacher in TX. Mary was always reaching out to others to help them through their life struggles, sharing her faith. Mary, along with Chet, were instrumental in an outreach to Cambodian immigrants to their area in the 1980s. Mary loved the water, sharing her final home together with Chet on Lake Conroe, in Willis, TX. There Mary was active in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, finishing a 25 year career with them.
Mary is survived by her four children: Robert B. Buford and his wife Gayle of Oviedo, FL with 2 granddaughters Megan Buford and Bo Buford, her step-grandson Andrew Chewning and wife Nina, with 2 great grandchildren, and step-granddaughter Lydia Stefels, her husband Matt, and 2 great grandchildren; Mary E. (Betsy) Graham and her husband Robert of Ledyard, CT, and step grandson Tyler Graham, his wife, and 6 great grandchildren; Kathleen M. Owen and her husband Thomas of Sugar Land, TX, with 3 grandchildren, William Owen and his wife Allie, Kristina Owen, and Christopher Owen, as well as family of the Owens who considered Mary their "adopted" Mom, Randa and Ray Williams; Kevin A. Buford and his wife Cheryl of Vienna, VA, with 2 grandchildren, Jonathan Buford and Kaylyn Buford. Mary also leaves behind cousins in TX, and CA; Tom Cole and Jan Cole, Mary Mabel Clegg, of Huntsville, TX; Priscilla Brown, Emily Mumford, Carolyn Sacchi and Mary Atwell, of Houston, TX, Zaidee Winton of Boerne, TX and Jim Thomason, Santa Rosa,CA. Mary leaves behind a dear friend of over 50 years, Louise Tull, of Richmond, VA, her devoted companions of the last 2 years of her life, Cheyanne Wilkerson, of Ledyard, CT, and the past year Kim Piacenza, of Groton, CT. and many dear friends in Willis and Conroe, TX.
Mary is predeceased by her husband Chester B. Buford, Jr. in 1994, and her sister, Elizabeth Anne Higgins, in 2008.
Mary was always a Texas girl in her heart and soul, and will return there to rest next to the love of her life, Chester B. Buford, Jr. A Celebration of Life will take place in TX where her life started, and her heart always remained, on May 13, 2017. The service is open to family and friends to share remembrances and song. For more details please call 860-326-6760 (Kathy) or 860-608-5620 (Betsy). In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Center for Hospice Care of Southeast CT, https://www.hospicesect.org, 1-877-654-4035.
Published on April 24, 2017