Not all fairytale romances begin in a kingdom far far away. Barb (Balcik ’89) Buford’s fairytale began at Findlay College in 1986.
Barb was well into her freshman year when she was introduced to Desmond Buford ’89 through mutual friends. At the time, she still had a boyfriend back home in Dayton, Ohio, and wasn’t looking for anything but friendship.
“When homecoming came around, I asked Des why he wasn’t going with a date and he told me that the girl he wanted to ask was going with someone else,” she remembered. “I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but he later told me that he was actually referring to me!”
That next fall Barb returned to campus single and the couple started dating soon after. From that point forward they were inseparable.
“Whether it was an event or eating dinner, we spent the majority of our time together,” she said. Some of Barb’s favorite memories are from their late night study sessions at Shafer Library, even though their majors were far from the same. He was in his junior year of the business management program and she was in her sophomore year of the animal science/pre-veterinary medicine program.
Less than a year later, they were engaged. Desmond popped the question in front of the library in October of 1988.
That next year they walked through the Arch together. “It was the perfect culminating experience of our years together at Findlay,” she recalled. They promised their parents that they would wait to get married until after Barb finished graduate school, so they stayed engaged for the next six-years.
After graduation Barb was accepted into veterinary school in Columbus and Desmond stayed in Findlay to begin working as an admissions counselor and assistant basketball coach at the University. At a time when life could have taken them into two different directions fate seemed to intervene. “Des was assigned to recruit prospective students in central Ohio, so he was actually able to stay with me during his travel season visiting high schools,” said Barb.
With nearly two-years left of veterinary school, Barb was done waiting and decided to set their wedding date. They were married in Columbus on December 18, 1993. “It was an amazing time,” Barb remembered. “Des never left the dance floor. He really loved to dance.”
Following their wedding, Barb finished veterinary school and started her career while Desmond expanded his career at the University of Findlay. He accepted a position in the Office of Minority Student Services, which he renamed in 2004 to the Office of Intercultural Student Services to be more inclusive and accommodating to the expanding diversity on campus.
They would go on to have two children, Trey and Aubrey, who frequented the halls of Desmond’s office and became well-known on campus. Trey even attended his first Findlay basketball game at just three weeks old.
Sadly, Barb and Desmond’s life together was cut short when he unexpectedly passed away on April 5, 2007 after complications following surgery.
“I felt like I had a fairytale, if only for a short time in my life,” said Barb. “We were best friends.”
She admits that she has learned to live and grow without Desmond, but he is still part of her every day. “If he were here today, just for a day, I would want to talk to him about our children. One day would not be enough.”
She knows that Desmond would be ecstatic to know that their son Trey is back on campus, now as a freshman, and playing basketball. “In them you can see his spirit,” she said.
Desmond’s memory also has a permanent home at UF. The University of Findlay dedicated the Buford Intercultural Student Services Center in his honor on April 22, 2008.
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