Orangeville, Ill. – He was a young boy when John Buford and his family moved from Woodbine to Orangeville. As he settled into his new home, Buford began to love his community. It was a quiet, fun existence. He made a lot of friends and it was here he met his childhood sweetheart, Caryl, who would later become his wife.
Buford’s adult life took him around the world. His career in the military was sporadic as he and Caryl furthered their education. But as time wore on and retirement years loomed, the couple looked at where they wanted to spend some of their retirement years and what came first and foremost in their minds was the community they both loved — Orangeville.
John and Caryl decided the place they wanted to call home was the old hotel, called the Central House. This old hotel dates back to 1888 and with a few renovations, it became their home. This was in the late 1990s. As the couple settled into their new home, John got busy working within his community. He reorganized A Community Together (ACT), organized the 2000 sesquicentennial and brought the U.S. Navy Band to the anniversary parade. He also got busy registering his home, the hotel, on the National Register of Historic Places, and eventually restarted the Mighty Richland Players dinner theatre. The couple purchased the old bank building, located next door to the Central House and consider it their second home.
These are just some of the contributions Buford has made to this small community north of Freeport, and recognizing Buford’s efforts motivated Orangeville Village President Don Hoyle to nominate Buford for the 2009 Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award.
The award is given through the Illinois Humanities Council. It is named after the prize-winning oral historian and author, Studs Terkel, and reflects the spirit of this prominent son of Illinois.
Buford was presented this award, an engraved solid bronze medal, prior to the Christmas Madrigal Dinner held at Orangeville High School Saturday night.
“This award is a perfect opportunity to recognize John for his efforts over the past decade,” Hoyle said. “John recognized our cultural heritage in a number of historic buildings and wanted to save them.
“In the past decade, John has successfully nominated five village residential and commercial building for the National Register of Historic Places and for the past three years, he has been a member of the Illinois Historic State Advisory Council,” he added.
Buford is humble to be given this recognition. He is a man committed to see his community thrive and is the “unofficial historian of Orangeville.”
It takes a vision
“It’s not that Caryl and I are visionaries, but we’ve had opportunities in our careers to see what can be done and follow through to do it,” Buford said. “Everybody has a responsibility to improve their community and it’s like that old Beach Boys song, “Be True to Your School.’”
Buford said one of the things he learned in the military is during down times, a soldier’s duty is to improve their foxhole and now that he and his wife have returned to their roots, his “foxhole” has become his community.
Caryl is proud of her husband’s accomplishments and works right at his side — together they work to enrich their community from within.
“Orangeville is a pretty town, rich in history and I share the feeling John has,” Caryl said. “This award is a well deserved and had I known it existed, I would have nominated John myself.”
Buford accepts this award with honor and said his commitment to Orangeville goes back to the Middle Ages with a quote in Latin “Noblesse Oblige,” which means with privilege comes responsibility.
“It’s about social responsibility — you have to make positive change,” John said.