Dr. Donald P. Buebendorf died at age 87 with his family at his side on June 26, 2021 in Vero Beach, Florida, after a short fight with cardiac disease. Don is survived by his wife of 65 years, Nancy Flint Buebendorf, who was his high school sweetheart and the love of his life. He is also survived by two children: Laurie Pallin (husband Mark) and Jeff Buebendorf (wife Candy); five grandchildren: Emily Courtney, Elizabeth Buebendorf, Tom Buebendorf, Kate Reigeluth, and Emily Pallin; and six great-grandchildren.
Don was raised and educated in Chappaqua, New York, and graduated from Amherst College. He received his MD degree from Yale University School of Medicine in 1960 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honorary Medical Society. After an internship and pediatric residency at Yale, he became Chief Resident of the Pediatric Outpatient Department. He served in the US Navy as Chief of the Pediatric Department and at the US Submarine Medical Center in Groton, Connecticut.
After leaving the Navy, Don opened a private practice in Essex, Connecticut. He was a small-town doctor who drove a pick-up truck and often tiptoed out to make house calls during the night. He later became co-founder of the medical group, Wildwood Medical Center. Don welcomed Dr. Christopher Goff into his practice, and the two became fast friends as well as partners. He retired from the practice of medicine to explore other adventures.
Trading his stethoscope for a spatula, Nancy and Don moved to Danbury, New Hampshire. where they opened and operated the Schoolhouse Corner Bed and Breakfast for seven years until illness forced their retirement. Famous for the homemade popovers which he perfected after years of experimentation, Don treated his guests and family to gourmet breakfasts to mark special occasions.
During his retirement, Don made sure to create special time with his grandchildren, and each waited excitedly until it was their turn for a trip to New York City to watch The Nutcracker ballet!
Don and Nancy retired a second time to Vero Beach, Florida. During their later years, they spent summers at Lake Toxaway, North Carolina, where Don developed a passion for the sport of formal croquet. His persistent advocacy for croquet led to the creation of croquet courts at the Riomar Club, the Moorings Country Club, and he most recently spearheaded a drive raising $100,000 to build a croquet court at Indian River Estates. The ribbon cutting ceremony for this court occurred just weeks before his death, and he was very proud of this accomplishment.
Frugal by nature, but generous with his time, Don put service above self and was very active as a leader in service organizations including the Essex, Connecticut Rotary Club, the Andover Lions Club, and local government agencies such as the Danbury Finance Board and Planning Commission.
Don’s greatest hobby was photography, dating back to his darkroom days as a teenage photographer for the local newspaper. He commemorated every occasion by creating and giving a book of photos to the participants.
He was an ardent hiker and, with son Jeff, hiked all the Appalachian Mountain Club’s 4,000 footers. His preference for the outdoors meant (to his children’s dismay) that his home was among the last to own a color television, replacing screen-time with lasting and meaningful memories of outdoor family activities, including cross-country camping trips.
Don loved the water; he built and tended his own lobster traps, set up a scalloping rig, and was an expert clammer who provided the seafood for neighborhood clambakes. He excelled in high school track and never missed his daughter Laurie’s track meets.
A do-it-yourself homeowner, Don shared his considerable carpentry skills with his son and son-in-law; he never hired others to do work he could do himself, including growing his own food and building his own chicken coop. He especially enjoyed gardening and could be found every night after work during the summer in his huge vegetable garden. But most of all, he enjoyed time with his wife and family.
Don lived life to the fullest and earned the respect of his children and grandchildren for his integrity, perseverance, and tenacity.
A service was held on July 1 at the Acts Chapel in Florida. His love for New Hampshire and its mountains has led his family to choose the White Mountains for his final resting place. A private distribution of his ashes will be performed at a later date. Donations in Don’s memory can be made to the McKee Jungle Gardens or the Indian River Land Trust.