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Dr. John Buesseler 

Emeritus Founding Chairman TAHFI



Dr. John Buesseler 

Dr. John Buesseler  (deceased in 2013)

A Tribute to Dr. John A. Buesseler

Emeritus Founding Chairman

Texas Aviation Heritage Foundation

The passing of Dr. John A. Buesseler on March 7, 2013 represents a sad loss to TAHFI.  Dr. Buesseler was instrumental in founding TAHFI, originally, and in recently revitalizing TAHFI.  His leadership was important in securing the relocation and development of the Silent Wings Museum, memorializing the WWII Combat Glider Pilots, to Lubbock, Texas.  In recognition of his many contributions to TAHFI, he was recently named Emeritus Founding Chairman of TAHFI. He was also the Emeritus Founding Chairman of the Silent Wings Museum Foundation, Inc.,

 He was a man with great vision who exhibited leadership and innovation in many fields.  He had a passion for the heritage of aviation in Texas and the myriad of contributions that Texas has made to aviation and aerospace.  His dream was to create venues whereby the public, especially young persons, could gain an appreciation of the contributions that Texans have made to aviation and aerospace in the past and perhaps be motivated to be someone who becomes part of these fields in the future.  His leadership and vision will be sorely missed. 

Dr. Buesseler was a leader and innovator in many areas besides aviation and aerospace.  In 1970 he moved to Lubbock, Texas where he was appointed founding Dean of the School of Medicine, Founding Vice President for Health Affairs, Founding Vice President for Health Sciences of the Texas Tech Health Sciences University, and founding Chief Executive Officer of the Texas Tech Health Sciences University and Center. He also served as Professor of Ophthalmology and as Founding Professor and Chairman of Health Organization Management, a joint-venture department between the School of Medicine and the College of Business Administration of Texas Tech University. In 1973 he was appointed to the rank of University Professor (Distinguished and Multidisciplinary) by the Board of Regents and by their Resolution of Congratulations for his achievements as Founding Dean of the Medical School. In 1973 and 1987 the State of Texas House of Representatives awarded him with Certificates of Citation for his contributions in Medicine, Civic Leadership, and Service to Community, State, and Nation. He retired from the faculty in 1998. Dr. Buesseler was honored in May 2000 by being named Founding Dean and Founding Vice President for Health Affairs and Health Sciences Emeritus. In 2005 he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa) by Texas Tech University at its December graduation exercises.

Prior to coming to Lubbock, he had already established an illustrious career in the field of ophthalmology.  A native of Wisconsin, he was in private practice of Ophthalmology in Madison, Wisconsin, for six years where he performed the first human corneal transplant in that city and, reportedly, in that state. He was appointed Founding Chief of Ophthalmology at the University of Missouri Medical Center in Columbia in 1959.  He served as Executive Director of Kansas City General Hospital and Medical Center in 1969-1970 in the establishment of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.

In addition to his civilian accomplishments as an ophthalmologist and leader in medical education, Dr. Buesseler was actively engaged with military medicine throughout his career.  As a second-year medical student in June 1942, Dr. Buesseler volunteered for the U.S. Army and served on active duty in World War II as a Private First Class (PFC) enlisted medical student in the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP). As a 1st LT, Medical Corps, he subsequently served as a Hospital Train Commander in the 1960th Hospital Train (Rail Road) Unit. In Europe, toward the end of World War II, he served as Battalion Surgeon with the 1st Bn, 30th Inf. Regt., 3rd Infantry Division and, later as Regimental Surgeon with the 6th Armored Calvary Regiment (Constabulary). He again served on active duty with the Pennsylvania Air National Guard in the Korea Conflict as Commander of the 11th Medical Group in the 111th Bombardment Wing (B-29s), and later as Chief of Ophthalmology in the Air Materiel Command. In the Army in the Vietnam Conflict in 1970, he was an Army Senior Flight Surgeon and Special Forces Colonel (Green Beret) serving as Special Project Officer in South Vietnam for the United States Secretary of Defense.  He was a charter member of the Texas Tech University Vietnam Center Advisory Board, a life member of both the Dustoff Association (Army helicopter ambulance), and the Special Forces Association.

Dr.-John-Buesseler- -Marie-Evans smHe was active in professional service as well.  He was the Founding Member of the Missouri Ophthalmological Society, Inc., Co-founder of the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology, Inc. and Co-founder of the Charles Russell Bardeen, M.D., Founding Dean, Memorial Fund at the University of Wisconsin Medical School. He was also the Ophthalmologist member of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Space Medicine Advisory Group (SPAMAG) that developed the safety, research, and life support requirements in 1963-1966 for the NASA Orbiting Research Laboratory. As a consultant to the healthcare industry, he was the Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and Senior Consultant of Health Organization Management Systems International.

Dr. Buesseler is survived by his wife, Cathryn Ann Hansen Buesseler of Lubbock, Texas; a son, John of New York; a granddaughter; and two great-grandchildren. At the request of the deceased, there will be no services. Burial of his cremains will be at the Lakeside cemetery in Waupaca, Wis. In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to the Vietnam Center and Archive at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas; the Charles Russell Bardeen, M.D., Founding Dean Memorial Fund, School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin; or to the Vernon Earl Wilson, M.D., Medical School Dean Memorial Scholarship Fund at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.

Note:  Most of the text incorporated into this tribute was taken from the obituary for Dr. John A. Buesseler published in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal on March 10, 2013. 




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