Rob Buford

Rob BufordRob Buford died on February 19, 2021, after suffering from Parkinson’s Disease for many years.

“Rob was loved by pretty much all who knew him,” says Harry Hull. “He was keenly appreciative of his Yale education and was generously supportive to the University, both as a donor and in other ways. He was especially proud of his last major project for Robert A.M. Stern & Associates, where he was managing partner, negotiating the contract between the firm and our alma mater for the design of the two newest residential colleges. During our 50th Class Reunion in 2015, Rob was a key part of the activities introducing the new colleges to alumni/ae.

“He was one of the few roommates/classmates that I managed to keep in touch with after graduation, along with Coles Phinizy, and both were wonderful men and friends. In the course of our life-long association – albeit with infrequent face-to-face get-togethers, alas, given how far we lived from each other – I also became friends with their spouses. Rob’s second wife, Barbara Iason, the sister of our classmate, Larry Iason, was as devoted to Rob – and vice versa – as any mate can be.

“Both Rob and Coles were true gentlemen in the best sense of the word and were kind, engaged in life, devoted parents and loved good fellowship and banter over a good meal. Rob had a quiet passion about German art and introduced us to the Neue Gallerie (Museum) in New York City, and that he and Barbara did a lot of international travel, especially after his retirement. (Barbara is a consummate travel planner and delighted in arranging all the details, even booking restaurants well in advance of visits to exotic places.)”

Barbara adds, “Rob cherished his time at Yale. I heard about his courses with Harold Bloom and Vincent Scully, his love of the library, and his friendships. He did what he could to give back, as he felt such gratitude for his time there. His last project, the negotiations for the two new colleges at Yale, was a highlight of his career.”

“And it shows,” says Harry. “He was like a proud papa at the birth of his babies! Rob was the sort of guy, even in our shortest gladdest years of life, who embodied a quiet integrity, intelligence and humor, and as a member of the southern contingent (he, Ken Guerry, and Bucky Vaughan all came from Richmond, VA, I think), embodied to me the essence of a Southern gentleman in the best, non-racist way possible: considerate, charming and unpretentious. I remember that he clearly loved – and defended! – his roots in Richmond but, as time would tell, ended up living most if not all of his adult life in the Northeast.

“As is common, I think, after graduation and the distractions of the Vietnam War (both Rob and I did stints in the military after graduation), we didn’t really reconnect until quite a few years later when I found myself visiting NYC from time to time to attend trade shows for my wee business. I began to look up Rob as well as Coles with each visit to NYC and found, happily, that our friendships ‘formed at Yale’ were alive and well. Our routine was to gather for a meal or two at some great but relatively undiscovered neighborhood restaurant and catch up on our lives.

“The only ’67 reunions I’ve attended were the 25th and 50th, and Rob (and Coles) were also there. In fact, for our 50th, Gail and I stayed with Rob and Barbara in their NYC apartment before coming up to New Haven by train. That reunion was, alas, the last time I saw Rob; and though he was beginning to decline from Parkinson’s, he was a stalwart trooper, as always, and our Punt Club comrades all enjoyed some great meals together during that wonderful long weekend. “