Tom Buchanan enjoyed education, travel

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 | 6:49 p.m. CST; updated 7:00 p.m. CST, Wednesday, February 13, 2013

COLUMBIA — Walter "Tom" Buchanan valued education in all aspects of the world. He appreciated classroom learning, but the experiences he had outside traditional settings will always be remembered by his family. 

Trips to Washington, D.C., an Alaskan cruise and other camping trips with his family helped him learn more about life and history, his wife, Pat Buchanan, said.

His catch phrase, "Are we having fun yet?" was heard many times on these trips, and he always answered himself with an enthusiastic "Yes!"

Mr. Buchanan died Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, in Columbia. He was 80.

He was born Oct. 27, 1932, in Moberly. He graduated from MU with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering in 1955. He also earned a Master of Science in civil engineering and a doctoral degree in higher and adult education in 1984.

After graduation, he served in the Army as a captain in the Army Corps of Engineers. He began a civil engineering career working for Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel in New York and Iowa. In 1969, he returned to MU to work for the MU Extension offices as an industrial specialist.

“He is one of the early pioneers of the '60s in bringing engineering extension expertise from the University to Missouri’s firms and companies,” Tom Henderson, a longtime friend and colleague, said.

One of the first off-campus specialists in the business and industry program, Mr. Buchanan was devoted to his work and made great accomplishments, Pat Buchanan said. He stayed at the Extension for 24 years and received the Meritorious Service Award from the MU Extension Association in 1970.

“He was a mentor to me and others that followed,” Henderson said.

He finished his career at the University of Illinois Extension as a small-business specialist.

As president of the St. Joseph Rotary Club, he had the opportunity to attend the Rotary International Convention in Tokyo, Japan, in 1978. He was also a member of the Moila Shrine Temple in St. Joseph, as a 32nd-degree Mason.

Mr. Buchanan decided to retire to Columbia in 2001 with his wife of 30 years to feed his enthusiasm of Missouri sports. They frequented football, basketball, volleyball and baseball games and always attended the football team's Bowl Championship Series games.

Golfing and traveling were also favorites of Mr. Buchanan, especially when his wife joined him. He enjoyed spending time with people and was easy to get along with, Pat Buchanan said. Every night, he and his dog, Jasmine, a schnauzer he received for Christmas, would sit together while he ate his bedtime snack of ice cream and chocolate syrup.

“He was very kind and compassionate and was always thinking of others before himself,” Sue Wilson, his sister-in-law, said.

Mr. Buchanan is survived by his wife, Pat Buchanan; three daughters, Cindy Secora and her husband, Steve, of Bartlesville, Okla., Jenny Malotte of Kingsville and Lori Witham and her husband, Ed, of St. Joseph; six grandchildren, Michael, Kristen, Brad, Leanne, Kari and Mitchell; two nephews, Andy and Adam Wilson; and a sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Sue and Jeff Wilson.

A memorial service, conducted by the Rev. Larry A. Williams, will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W. A visitation will be held after the service at the funeral home.

The family requests memorial donations be made to the Pat and Tom Buchanan Endowed Fund at MU. The fund is used to provide support for professional development for MU Extension faculty. Contributions can be sent to MU Extension Development, 109-F Whitten Hall, Columbia, MO 65211.

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