Today we had planned to honor as our Grand Marshall one of Mountain Lakes’ most memorable and recognizable veterans, Buz Bedford.. But Buz passed away on April 24, peacefully in his sleep, six months after his wife, Robin. He would have turned 94 last week.
Many of you will remember Buz as that ramrod- straight, dashing officer who took part in our Memorial Day ceremony for 60 years. The khaki uniform he wore with such pride was the original, issued in 1941.
Buz was born Nathaniel Forrest Bedford in Jacksonville, Fla., on May 21, 1918. He graduated cum laude from Princeton with a degree in economics, and played fullback on the lightweight football team (where he acquired the nickname “Buz”), that went unbeaten in two seasons. He also threw the javelin on two-time unbeaten track team and shot skeet for a Princeton team that won an intercollegiate championship.
Buz entered Columbia Law in the fall of 1939, and as war became inevitable in Europe, he enlisted in the 101st Cavalry Regiment of the New York National Guard. In January, 1941, he was called to active duty, the first Columbia Law student to enter the service during World War II.
He started out as a machine gunner in an armored scout car, but after Pearl Harbor, he transferred to the Signal Corps where he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in April 1942. After intense training that included six months of specialized schooling at Harvard and MIT in electronic and radar engineering, Buz took command of a signal depot company and began a campaign through Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines. In New Guinea, he built and commanded a critical supply station and found himself on the staff of General Douglas MacArthur where he helped plan the “I have returned” recapture of Luzon, Philippines in 1944-45. Buz was part of the vanguard landing force that would have to set up communications supply operations; he would later quip that he landed in advance of MacArthur’s more publicized landing. Buz remained in the Philippines for the rest of the war, and awarded the Bronze Star for outstanding meritorious service. He remained in the reserves through 1962, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
After the war, Buz finished up at Columbia Law and embarked on a long and successful career in the practice of law. He had offices in New York and in Boonton and was a member of the bar of the United States Supreme Court, and the highest courts of New York and New Jersey.
He retired from practice in 2004 at age 86, but not before being involved in landmark case where his efforts compelled the Congress of the United States to establish rules and safeguards for the funding authorized for Veterans and their families.
Buz and Robin settled in Mountain Lakes in 1947, first at 3 Maple Way, then later at 33 Crane Drive, in a home they designed. They were active in the community as they raised their children, Robert, Dorothy, Bonnie and Diane, and later as they delighted in their ten grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. They were predeceased by daughter, Dianne Bedford Marsden. Granddaughter Lisa Marsden Vandling and her family brought great joy to both of her grandparents up to the very end.
To those of Buz’s family here today we offer our most sincere condolences. Mountain Lakes too will miss his impressive bearing, intelligent humor, warm smile and, and friendship.