Brigadier General James M. AuBuchon, 77, of Overland Park, Kan., formerly of Pittsburg, Kan., passed away at 6:45 p.m. Friday, September 1, 2017, at KU Med Center surrounded in love by his family.
His death followed illnesses that stemmed from his military service in Vietnam and exposure to Agent Orange, but his will to live simply came from his zest for life and the love for his family. He was known as a true patriot, a soldier's soldier, an active community member, and a loving husband, father, and grandfather.
He was born February 9, 1940, in Baxter Springs, Kan., to Floyd E. and Iva M. (Reavis) AuBuchon. A scholarship provided by an anonymous donor made it possible for him to attend Pittsburg State University, which his parents and siblings never had the opportunity to do.
In 1963, he graduated from PSU with a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army through ROTC and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division, in Fort Riley, Kansas.
On August 10, 1963, he married Cathy Campbell, a longtime Pittsburg English teacher, and they began building a life together that would span 54 years.
AuBuchon's military education was rich and varied: it included the Infantry Officer Basic Course and Quartermaster Officer Advanced Course from Command and General Staff College, the Associate Logistics Executive Development Course and the Senior Officer Preventative Logistics Course from the U.S. Army War College, the National Security Management Course, NATO Contingency Counterpart Training, and the Reserve Component Brigadier General Training.
In September 1965, he was deployed with the 1st Infantry Division as Branch Chief, Personnel Services Division, Division Headquarters, to Di An, Republic of Vietnam.
He completed his tour in Vietnam in September 1966, and returned to the U.S. for an assignment at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. In July 1967, he resigned his regular Army commission, accepted a reserve commission, and was released from active duty.
AuBuchon remained active in the military, serving in the U.S. Army Reserve, including as deputy commanding general of the 89th Regional Support Command. He commanded the 243rd Supply and Service Battalion in Parsons, Kan.s, and the 326th Area Support Group in Kansas City, Kan.
He served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Headquarters, 89th U.S. Army Reserve Command. His last duty assignment was as Deputy Commanding General, 89th U.S. Army Regional Support Command from 1992 to 1996. In 1999, he retired with the rank Brigadier General after 36 years of active and reserve duty.
AuBuchon also was a past president and past National Councilman of the Department of Kansas Reserve Officers Association of the United States, and served as chair of the Kansas Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. In addition, he served as Ambassador for the State of Kansas for the U.S. Army Reserve.
He was highly decorated for his military service. He received the Bronze Star Medal, Legion of Merit, and Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and several service ribbons and medals. In June 2016, he was sworn in to the inaugural class of the U.S. Army R.O.T.C. Hall of Fame in Ft. Knox, Kentucky.
In his civilian life, AuBuchon played a significant role in both the expansion of the PSU campus and programming, as well as a key role in the growth of Pittsburg as a community leader.
He joined the PSU staff as assistant director of the Overman Student Center in 1967. He completed a Master of Science degree at PSU in 1969, and a Ph.D. in educational administration from Kansas State in 1978.
AuBuchon helped raise funds to complete the Kansas Technology Center, Carnie Smith Stadium, the Polymer Research Center, the Student Recreation Center/Pittsburg Armory, and led the campaign to design and construct the PSU Veterans Memorial, finished in 2004. It held a special place in his heart and he continued to speak at and attend services there on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. He gave his last public address there on May 29, 2017.
In 2006, he retired from PSU as Vice President of University Advancement and Executive Director of the PSU Foundation, Inc. — a role in which he was responsible for development, fund raising, public relations, external communication, and management of nearly $50 million in foundation assets.
Former Kansas Governor Bill Graves appointed AuBuchon to two state-wide commissions: the 27-member Comprehensive Transportation Plan Study Group and the Economic Review Panel for Transportation System enhancements. Former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius appointed him as member and chair of the Kansas Military Advisory to manage the National Guard Facilities in the state.
AuBuchon served nearly eight years as one of five elected commissioners of the City of Pittsburg and served two terms as mayor. During his tenure in city government, Pittsburg added the Aquatic Center and the Research and Development Park, expanded the Public Library, and constructed Fire Station 3.
He served on the boards of Mt. Carmel Regional Medical Center, M&I Bank, the Family Resource Center and Southeast Kansas, Inc.
AuBuchon was a longtime advocate for Highway 69 expansion and served as executive director of the Highway 69 Association, a group he helped form.
After their retirement, in 2006, Jim and Cathy moved to Overland Park to be closer to family. They enjoyed traveling to their beloved Estes Park, Colorado, and AuBuchon especially enjoyed following the Royals and K-State football.
In 2008, he received the 2008 Spirit of Pittsburg Award from the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce and the Morning Sun “in recognition of outstanding service and unselfish dedication to the Pittsburg area.”
Survivors in addition to his wife include a daughter, Laurel AuBuchon Shelton of Overland Park, and her children Hannah and Will; and a son, Aaron, and his wife Sandi, of Asheville, North Carolina, and their children Averie and C.J., as well as many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, brother David and sister Elizabeth Ann.
A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 16, at the PSU Veterans Memorial on South Rouse in Pittsburg, Kan. Remembrances will be given by Fr. Robert McElwee, Steve Robb, Gen. (Retired) George Lampe, and his daughter, Laurel AuBuchon Shelton. A private family burial at PSU's Timmons Chapel will follow the memorial service.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the PSU Foundation – Jim and Cathy AuBuchon Scholarship in Education. These may be left at or mailed to Brenner Mortuary, 114 E. Fourth St., Pittsburg, KS 66762. Friends may also make condolences online at www.brennermortuary.com. Arrangements are under the direction of the Brenner Mortuary.