Buford Bern Belgard, 89, of Williams, entered into Eternal Life on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009 at Flagstaff Medical Center after an extended illness.
Buford was born on May 18, 1920 at Newton, Kan. to Fred and Mamie Belgard. He attended school in McPherson and Newton, graduating from Newton High School in 1938.
Buford began working at the Fred Harvey laundry in Newton on April 1, 1936. While in school he put the linen on the Santa Fe Super Chief at night. In the summer months he worked in the laundry. In 1940, Buford was transferred to Grand Canyon to run the laundry and dry cleaning plant for the hotels and other facilities there.
On April 20, 1941, Buford returned to Newton to marry his high school sweetheart, Myra Mae Brown. After the wedding they returned to Grand Canyon, where they spent their honeymoon at Phantom Ranch. Myra worked part-time at the laundry as a cashier and where needed.
World War II came along. With business being slow, the Belgards returned to Newton where he worked at the Fred Harvey Laundry from April 1943. During that time, he enlisted in the Kansas State Guard and trained with them until he was inducted into the Army Air Corps on Sept. 18, 1943 and entered active service on Oct. 10, 1943 at Fort Leavenworth. After basic training at Amarillo, Texas, Buford was sent to Lincoln, Neb. where he was trained as an airplane radio mechanic.
He was shipped to the Pacific Theater, departing on April 28, 1944, landing at Milne Bay in May. His outfit was sent to Hollandia, and as replacements were assigned to the 317th Troop Carrier Group, 41st squadron of the 5th Air Force as part of the ground communication department. Spending time on several islands in the South Pacific the group was deployed back to the states from Buckner Air Strip, landing at Seattle, Wash. on New Year's Eve, 1945. Discharge followed a month later and he rejoined Myra at Newton. They arrived back at Grand Canyon in March, 1946 to resume their lives.
They were soon very busy in the community. Buford joined the American Legion, John Ivens Post No. 42 in April. He was elected Post Commander in 1950-51 and went on to become Commander of the Department of Arizona in 1959 and Alternate National Executive Committeeman the following year. The Post honored Buford with a life membership on Nov. 11, 1960. He was instrumental in gaining land for the Legion to build their Legion "hut" in 1951 and, along with Commander Ernie Greening and many volunteers, it became a reality and was a big part of the community until 1979 when the ground was leased out and the building replaced with a hotel.
He worked to get a scholarship started for the graduating Grand Canyon Seniors in 1980 and in 2002 to set up a scholarship for the children and grandchildren of current members of John Ivens Post. Through his efforts the Post was able to secure an office building in Williams to house the Post and its history and for revenue. Buford was a Boy Scout leader for five years, 1947-1952. In 2008, Buford was honored for 65 years of membership and the work he did for the Legion post.
He joined the VFW and was a life member and a 65-year member. He is a paid for life member of the NRA. He was a 52-year member of the Masonic Lodge and served as master of his Lodge. A Rotarian for many years, he served as Grand Canyon Rotary President and in other offices. He and Myra took a foreign student in to their home.
He was always on hand to help wherever needed. He was kind to those who worked under him and often had holiday dinners and parties for the crew and their friends.
He was proud to have served 16 years as a member of the Grand Canyon School Board and to be able to present both his daughters with their grade school and high school diplomas.
In 1975, the Belgards moved to Williams where they owned and operated Gateway Cleaners until 1992. Buford served on the Williams City Council and served a term as Vice Mayor. He was also a member of the Williams Airport Commission.
The Belgards are survived by two daughters, Karen J. Stoermer of Las Vegas, Nev. and Rebecca A. Terry of Prescott; five grandchildren Deonna Moore and Mark Stoermer of Las Vegas, Nev., Monica (Brian) Hampton of Kirkland, and Angela Terry and Matthew Terry of Prescott; four great-granddaughters, Mckenzie, Jenna, Molly and the newest, Emma Grace (born Sept. 25, 2009) all of Kirkland; a nephew Steven Belgard and family of Newton, Kan.; and a sister-in-law Virginia Bullard of Newton, Kan.
Preceding him in death were his beloved wife Myra Mae; parents Fred and Mamie Belgard; and his brother Ronald.
Buford will be greatly missed by his family and friends. Memorial services and interment are pending.
Funeral arrangements were made through Norvel Owens Mortuary.