Faculty Profile: Don Buttrick
Sadly, the History Department and CSUB lost one of its own last August when former professor Don Buttrick died suddenly of a heart attack at age 80. A Modern Europeanist who earned his three academic degrees from UC Berkeley, Don was particularly interested in the intellectual history of the French Revolution. After completing his PhD, he taught first at Kansas State University before taking a position at what is now Western Washington State University in Bellingham. He began teaching in Bakersfield in 1964 at the Fresno State Center on Mt. Vernon Ave., moving to CSUB’s current location when it opened in 1970, and retiring in 1988. (Apparently Don was eager to return to California not only because he considered it home, but because it had more electoral votes than Washington! Don was also an avid observer of politics.) He was a dedicated teacher who, according to former colleague Forrest Wood, memorized his lectures before each class so he didn’t have to rely on any notes. Extremely well read in the subjects he taught, Don was an excellent teacher whose students considered him one of the best on campus.
Don married his beloved wife, Judi, in 1984, after his mother died. Because he was his mother’s caretaker, Don didn’t believe he would have time for married life while she was still alive. He visited her regularly in Oakland, putting so many miles on the Cadillacs he favored that he bought himself a new one every year. He also drove his mother on numerous trips around the U.S. and Canada, a practice he and Judi continued, favoring above all other destinations Vancouver Island and the Oregon coast, where Don’s ashes are interred. Don and Judi shared another passion as well: watching professional football. Besides following his Bears at Cal, he was a diehard Redskins fan. He followed the news with equal fervor.
A classical music aficionado, Don preferred 19th- and early 20th-century music, and was particularly fond of Anton Bruckner. He and Judi were regulars at Benji’s Basque restaurant, and former colleagues Ron Dolkart and Charles Litzinger remember fondly a wonderful lunch with him there just last spring, where they reminisced about their days at Cal State. Don also kept up close friendships with a circle of graduate school friends, gathering with them several times a year up in Berkeley.
Easy going, kind, and generous, Don was a supporter of Valley Public Radio and donated regularly to police and sheriff’s charities. He shared favorite music recordings with friends, and generously donated books to newer faculty in the department. Judi plans to donate his entire collection of books to the Walter Stiern Library, continuing his generous tradition.
Don and Judi faithfully attended the department’s annual member banquet for the history honor society (Phi Alpha Theta) each spring, and current faculty always enjoyed seeing them both. Don will be sorely missed, but we are fortunate to have known him through his ties to CSUB.