Jesse Lee Buffington was born to Lee Roy Buffington and Ila Fae Martin in Chriesman, Texas on July 13, 1929 as the youngest of four children. He lived and worked on the family farm until he headed off to college. The Buffington family attended church in nearby Caldwell. Jesse developed his Christian faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior as a teenager and was baptized at the age of 16 at the Caldwell Church of Christ. He graduated from Caldwell High School in 1947 and attended college for 2 years at Southwest Texas State University. He transferred to Texas A&M University where he graduated with a BS degree in 1951 in Agricultural Education and later completed MS (1958) and PhD degrees (1973) in Agricultural Economics.
Upon graduation, Jesse taught Vocational Agriculture at Wharton High School. In 1952, he joined the US Air Force during the Korean War and was stationed for 4 years at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. He met Rosalie Wheeler at the South San Antonio Church of Christ in late 1952 when she was a senior in high school. Jesse liked her for her Christian faith and he thought she was pretty on the inside and outside! Their dating life primarily revolved around church activities and worship, and they were married in San Antonio on September 3, 1955 and established their first home there. This was the beginning of a long and sweet marriage as Jesse and Rosalie walked hand in hand for more than 66 years.
Jesse and Rosalie eventually settled in College Station in 1956 and lived in married student housing on the Texas A&M campus, followed by a small rental home a few blocks away. Jesse worked at Texas A&M as a Research Assistant in Agricultural Economics for 2 years and then spent the rest of his career at Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) as a Research Economist. He was considered a nationwide expert on economic impact assessments of highway bypass construction around smaller cities. He was also a licensed Real Estate Broker and Appraiser.
Jesse and Rosalie had the birth of their first child Damon in 1958, with two daughters shortly appearing afterwards: Lanette in 1960 and Ruth Ann in 1962. The three children were initially raised in a house they purchased in Bryan and then moved to College Station in 1974 within walking distance of A&M Consolidated High School and the new A&M Church of Christ building. This location became a central gathering place for school and church friends with Jesse joyfully supporting his children’s activities in sports, Scouts, and church functions such as youth group.
Kingdom work to tell the story of Jesus was of utmost importance to Jesse. He served as the local preacher at several churches in small Texas towns near College Station in the mid to late 1950’s, including serving the Franklin Church of Christ for 1-1/2 years. He often preached at Sunday morning and evening services, sometimes at two churches in a day! As his own family expanded, Jesse faithfully led weekly family devotionals for his children. He was an ongoing aid to several missionaries and served for 20 years as an Elder at the A&M Church of Christ.
Jesse loved teaching and mentoring Aggie students. He and Rosalie often hosted Aggies for Christ (AFC) students in their home and many became “adopted.” Several family members who were Aggie students lived with them. They also invited international students (often couples) into their home to share the message of Jesus. Many became Christians and long-term friends.
Jesse was happy to see the family expand with three marriages: Lanette and Rick in 1982, Ruth Ann and Steve in 1983, and Damon and Leslie in 1984. He became “Granddaddy” in 1986 when Brandon was born to Ruth Ann and Steve; Patrick and Alyson following. In 1988, Lanette and Rick joined the party with the birth of Whitney, then Weston. In 1990 Damon and Leslie furthered the family tree with Haley, Taylor, and Connor. Jesse loved and cherished all 8 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.
Jesse loved to travel. After retiring, he and Rosalie hit the road to visit US National Parks as well as Alaska and Hawaii. Their international trips to multiple continents often focused on encouraging missionaries and included Canada, Brazil, Egypt, Israel, S. Korea, Thailand, and various parts of Europe. For alternating years Jesse and Rosalie also hosted a family vacation in and around Lake City, Colorado. These were much anticipated trips and Jesse ensured family devotionals were held every time.
Jesse enjoyed the outdoors immensely, specifically camping, gardening, and visiting his childhood family farm. He enjoyed sharing his farming knowledge with his family—most notably tasking his grandkids to dig and harvest what he’d grown in his backyard!
In 2019, Jesse and Rosalie sold their “dream house” in College Station and moved to Parc at Traditions Independent Living retirement community. They made many new friends and everyone who knew Jesse, loved Jesse. He enjoyed the fun activities (meals, walking, swimming, Bingo, Texas 42 dominoes). It was here that Jesse lost his “darling” Rosalie in June 2022. He was heartbroken but continued to live every day with gratitude for a lifetime of blessings as he shared his love—for God, his family, friends, and the staff at Parc. Jesse was finally called home as he died peacefully at Parc early on Friday morning March 10th.
Jesse is survived by his children Damon (Leslie) Buffington, Lanette (Rick) Schulte and Ruth Ann (Steve) Strother; his 8 grandchildren, Brandon, Patrick, Whitney, Haley, Alyson, Weston, Taylor and Connor; and his 9 great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his three siblings Roy, Relta and Frances.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to:
Yann Opsitch Mission Work
Northside Church of Christ
Bonham, TX 75418
L'ECOLE DU MAITRE Preacher Training for the French-speaking World