Gene and Wilma Buffaloe and the IRBBA Memorial Scholarship
Edward Eugene “Gene” Buffaloe
1920 – 1991
Gene Buffaloe was born in Terrell, Texas on July 8, 1920. He was the oldest son of William Edward “Ed” and Leona Hargrove Buffaloe. Gene had 3 brothers and 2 sisters. The Buffaloe Family was originally from Palacios and Gene’s grandparents, “Grandpa and Grandma Buffaloe” are buried in the Palacios cemetery near their sons W. E. “Ed” and Frank.
Ed lived with his family on Turtle Bay and farmed. When family reunions were held, the brothers and sisters joked about having to walk 5 miles in the snow to catch the bus to go to school. Of course there was no snow in Palacios, Texas. Gene attended Palacios High School and graduated in 1938. After graduation, he attended Victoria College where he first met Wilma Gullett. Gene went to Texas A&M College where he studied Mechanical Engineering.
In 1942, Gene volunteered to join the US Army Air Corps. He was a corporal and served as the only enlisted man on General Twining’s Staff. Gene often commented that the reason that he got such an important position was because he could type. In the 1950’s, General Twining served as President Eisenhower’s Chairman of the Joint Chief’s of Staff, the highest ranking Military Commander in the US. Gene was particularly proud of his service for General Twining.
Gene served in Italy in World War II. He had a close friend, Ben Turner, who served with him. Ben was an artist. Gene carried a picture of Old Bob, his hunting dog, in his wallet during the war. Ben painted a watercolor picture of Old Bob from the photo while they were Italy. Gene rolled the picture and put it in his knapsack when he returned from Italy. The picture hangs at our home today. Gene also brought home a gift for his mother and a Patek Feilpe watch. Times got hard later and he had to sell the watch.
Gene told only one story about the war. He had an accident in Switzerland and cut the tendon to his right index finger. When they sewed the tendon together, he was unable to straighten out his finger. He joked that his war wound generated a disability payment from the government each month and over time the payment increased regularly.
After returning from the war, Gene was a salesman for Gustafson who manufactured rice drying equipment and a salesman for Caterpillar. In about 1948, Kay Conlee, Wilma’s cousin, saw Gene in Bay City and he asked about Wilma. Kay got them together and on June 3, 1949 Gene and Wilma were married. They lived in Beaumont and played golf for recreation. It was in Beaumont that Wilma decided that the picture of Old Bob needed framing. She took it to have it framed; however, it cost too much in it’s original size and she had it cut down. During framing, Ben Turner’s signature was removed. Later that was a costly mistake. In the 1950’s and 60’s, Ben went on to become a famous and outstanding western artist. We have not been able to certify the painting however we know it is a Ben Turner original.
Gene and a wartime buddy went into the Ferguson Tractor business in about 1950 in Houston. They opened their business on Airline Road. Gene was the salesman and the buddy was the mechanic. Sales boomed and the business flourished. Gene and Wilma lived in an apartment above the tractor dealership.
Gene and Wilma had only one child. Bruce was born on August 10, 1952 at Herman Hospital in Houston. He was delivered with the cord around his neck and almost did not arrive successfully. He arrived at 6:43 PM at a 7 lbs 5 1/2 ounces. That is by far the lightest that he has ever been!
In late 1952, Gene and Wilma decided to go to Colorado with Wilma’s Uncle Glen and Aunt Jewel Davies. The trip was an extended affair lasting over a month. When Gene returned, his buddy the mechanic, had alienated the customers in the tractor business. The business failed and Gene and Wilma moved to Nursery, to the ranch, to live with her parents. Gene said that they arrived in Victoria with a ’49 Dodge, Bruce, and $45. Shortly after that, the Dodge got a flat spot in the crankshaft and broke down. Gene refused to buy another Dodge or Chrysler product after that.
Gene went on the road selling equipment for about a year and while in Alabama he bought an azalea bush and brought it back to his mother in law, Berith. The azalea bush is still planted beside the front porch at the ranch house.
In 1954, Gene went to work as an Allstate agent in Victoria. He completed his career working for Allstate and retired in 1984.
In 1964, Berith Robinson Gullett passed away and Gene and Wilma bought the ranch from the heirs to the Robinson Estate. He and Wilma raised Hereford, Angus and Brahman cross cattle and in 1970 Gene bought his first registered Brangus heifers. In 1986, Gene introduced the first Red Brangus bulls to the herd. These were acquired from Franklin Flato in Berclair, Texas.
In the 1970’s, Gene and his friend, Les Eubanks, decided to go into the oil and gas business and drill wells. Gene was the lease hound and Les worked up the prospects and sold the interest in the wells. The first well was drilled on Stanley Green’s Ranch west of Beeville. The well produced gas and oil on the test but later played out before production was established. They drilled some more wells, but all were dry holes.
Gene decided that he would get in the oilfield service business and dig pits with a dozer. He started with a 1952 D4 with a bucket. That dozer was very slow and was a man killer to operate. I can attest to that. In 1981, he bought a new Cat D5B with a tilt blade and a winch. It cost about $90,000. Within a year of operation the oil and gas business in the US went into the recession of 1982 and did not pull out until 10 years later. The dozer business went south along with the economy in 1982.
Gene was plagued with bad arteries and received four open heart surgeries. On the morning of his last surgery, he told Bruce to take care of his Mother, Wilma, and that there was plenty of money to do so. He also said that he had done everything in his life that he had wanted to do and that if things did not come out ok with his surgery that he was happy with his life. The last thing he told Bruce to do was to put 4 new rear tires on the International 1486 Tractor because they were worn out. Bruce did that 14 years later when he kept having flat tires and the rubber was falling off. Gene also gave Bruce a list of chores to accomplish while he was in the hospital. Bruce accomplished those chores right away.
Gene was loved by his family and friends and well respected as an honest man in the community. He would only sell a customer the insurance that he needed to cover his risks. Gene’s brother in law, Charles Gullett, said that there was never a better man alive than Gene Buffaloe. Bruce knew this to be true as he had asked his father to be the best man in his wedding. Bruce has never met a better man.
Berith Wilma Gullett Buffaloe
1922 – 2008
Wilma Gullett Buffaloe was born November 7, 1922. She flew with angels to live with our Lord God and Jesus on March 16, 2008 and she is now walking and talking with him in the garden. Wilma is preceded in her walk in the garden by her father, William Charles Gullett, Sr., her mother, Berith Robinson Gullett and her loving husband Edward Eugene “Gene” Buffaloe. Wilma’s brother, Charles and his sister-in-law Joyce are residents of Austin, Texas. She has brothers and sisters in law, Jack and Marion Buffaloe of Corpus Christi, Ken Buffaloe of Canton, Texas, and Irene Buffaloe ofHouston. She is preceded by brothers and sisters-in-law Glen Buffaloe, Genie Buffaloe, Erwin and Lanita Skalicky and Clyde and Murdell Batchelor. Wilma has many cousins, nieces and nephews.
She was a loving and proud mother to her son, Bruce. Bruce proclaims that no man could have a better mother and confidant than his mother, Wilma. She was a loving and proud grandmother of her granddaughters Lissa and Tracee Buffaloe and Tracee’s fiancé, Vincent Price.
She will be especially missed by her special friend, Ella Scholermer who called and talked to her every day. She held her doctors in her highest esteem and considered Dr. Larry Riedel a great friend. Her friends, Pat and Roland Grote gave her love and support in her later years.
Wilma grew up in Texas and moved to several towns with her parents. Bill Gullett, her father, worked in the oilfield for the Humble Company. She graduated from Patti Welder High School in Victoria. Wilma attended and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Texas A&I University. She was particularly proud that she had passed college physics. When Texas A&I became part of the A&M system, Wilma proclaimed herself to be an honorary Aggie. Wilma worked as an accountant in Houston after her graduation from college and after 7 years she became a teacher. She taught 1st through 3rd grades for over 25 years in Victoria and Bloomington. Wilma worked in her husband Gene’s insurance office until their retirement in 1984.
Wilma was quite proud of her background in education. She pioneered the use of motor skill development in teaching children. Wilma and her close friend, Vee Swanson, traveled throughout Texas in the late 1960s instructing other teachers on motor skill development techniques and its importance to the learning process in children. Wilma had a special touch and blessing in the classroom. She always knew what would be best for each child. She made learning fun and always tried to make her classroom a positive place. She even allowed classroom pets!
Wilma was active in many local and national organizations. She was a member of the Texas Classroom Teachers Association and served on the Board of Directors of the organization for many years. For 42 years she was a member and past president of Delta Kappa Gamma, an honorary teacher’s society. She was a past president of Courier Belle and a member of the Morning Study Club.
Upon her husband Gene’s death, she and her son Bruce developed a world class Red Brangus operation at their ranch at Nursery, Texas. She was particularly proud of her heritage in the cattle business, she and her son’s successes, and her partnership with Don Cox in several champion Red Brangus bulls. She was the oldest active member of the International Red Brangus Breeders Association, a member of the International Brangus Breeders Association and American Red Brangus Breeders Association. She was a member of the Independent Cattleman’s Association and the Texas Cattlewomen’s Association.
Her family is deeply appreciative of her caregivers Gloria Cook and the Staff at Hearthstone. In her last few months she lived at Hearthstone and she adopted several “grandchildren” in the staff there. The staff of Detar Hospital continually supported her. She had total confidence in their care.
Wilma had an outgoing and dynamic personality. She will be missed by her circle of teacher friends. When she was ill in Detar Hospital, she told her son Bruce, that “When the time comes for us to part for me to be with the Lord, it will be all right. We have had a good run together and I love you.” Wilma was a devout Christian and placed her soul in God’s care.
Wilma was a very good mother; she told stories from when Bruce was little that she was afraid someone might kidnap him because he was such a “good looking” little boy. She would dress him up in a suit from Melvin’s and say he looked like a little prince. Wilma’s mothering nature poured beyond her own child. When living in an apartment in Bay City, her neighbor was a very young mother. Wilma taught her to take care of her new born baby; in November 2007 this woman found Wilma at Hearthstone and came to express her appreciation of Wilma’s care and concern for her child.
Tracee and Lissa were her pride and joy she taught them many life lessons that only a grandmother could do. She called Lissa her China Doll. She gave both girls $20 for their wallet when they got older and said, “Save it for a rainy day, you just never know when you’re going to need it for a cab ride.” She told them, “Always take time to smells the Roses.” She wanted each of you ladies to have a flower today.
Visiting grandma’s house was always fun; she washed our hair in the kitchen sink, ran over-flowing bubble baths in the bubble tub, and served pancakes with a “phffst” of whipped cream on top for breakfast. Lissa especially loved when grandma french braided her hair. Both girls loved the pink satin down comforter at grandma’s house, she always said, “I guess we’ll have to cut it in half and send each of you a half to college.”
Wilma always took time to teach her grandkids too. One great memory was when she taught them to make biscuits on the kitchen bar. She always let them cut the biscuits out into shapes. She felt teaching them to be Southern Bells was very important in their future upbringing. She insisted that they use their manners and use the proper silverware too.
Wilma was a true friend to many and a loving Mother and Grandmother. We all will miss her shining face and generosity. Wilma never met a person who she did not like and she immediately made acquaintances a friend. This note was written with love by her son Bruce and granddaughters Lissa and Tracee Buffaloe.
IRBBA Memorial Scholarship
The IRBBA Scholarship was originally started as a tribute to Jim Hunt, the first president of the IRBBA, a founder of the Association and recipient of the IRBBA Lifetime Achievement Award. Scholarship funds were collected at every IRBBA event and the CX Advantage Sale. After Wilma Buffaloe passed away, a second scholarship was established in Wilma’s name. The scholarship was funded by Buffaloe Cattle Company, and several other breeders who knew and respected Wilma, The initial contributions were made by:
- Triangle K Farms, Dennis Kmiec
- Cox Excalibur, Don Cox and Family
- Buffaloe Cattle Co., Bruce Buffaloe and Family
- OB Ranch, Marcos Borges and Family
- Stofa Rosa Ranch, Rhumina and Jimmy Stofa
- TRIO Cattle and Genetics
- J7 Ranch, Don Jobes
- BKC Cattle Co., Kelly and Stacey Costello
- Hidden Oak Ranch, John Liechty
- Gary Markham of Rancho de Trabajo made a significant contribution in Wilma’s name.
In the Spring of 2008, Tracee Buffaloe decided that she would become involved in Education through the IRBBA Scholarship Committee. She was prompted to do so after the death of her grandmother, Wilma. Wilma was a retired teacher and Tracee had always wanted to be a teacher; however, she was a cost engineer instead.
The IRBBA Board of Directors, with approval from Linda Hunt and the Buffaloe Family, merged the funds from the two scholarships to create the IRBBA Memorial Scholarship. Allen Goode volunteered to chair the Scholarship Committee in 2008 and began a successful fund raising campaign. Members of his committee included Tracee, Rhumina Stofa, Kay Gibson and Annie Viator. They developed an application and solicited graduating high school seniors who had an interest in Red Brangus.
In May 2009, the first scholarships were awarded to two highly qualified candidates at the 2009 IRBBA Annual Meeting. The scholarship recipients were Katy Knox and Benjamin Wishert, who both are to attend Texas A&M. Marcos Borges opened the scholarship presentation and Bruce Buffaloe outlined the accomplishments and leadership that Jim Hunt had contributed to the IRBBA. In addition, Bruce advised the attendees that Jim Hunt had played a significant role in helping to develop the Buffaloe’s herd. Jim had sold his best 1/2 blood cattle to the Buffaloes after spending over 20 years developing that set of 1/2 bloods. Bruce also provided information about Wilma Buffaloe and her passion for Education and for raising Red Brangus Cattle. At the time of her death, at age 85, Wilma was the oldest active member of the Association, made decisions about which bulls to purchase, and had purchased a heifer in the CX Advantage Sale in the fall of 2007.
After the scholarships were awarded, Allen recommended that Tracee Buffaloe Price take his position as Chairman of the IRBBA Memorial Scholarship Committee. Tracee serves in that capacity now. Find below, a picture of the presentation of the first IRBBA Memorial Scholarship.