Cover photo for Martha Buford's Obituary
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1934 Martha 2020

Martha Buford

July 22, 1934 — May 18, 2020

Martha Sharp Canterbury Buford was born for an adventurous life, and because her faith in the Lord clearly and fundamentally defined her life, she wasn’t averse to taking a risk.

Given the nickname “Old Dear” by her slightly older sister, Joey, who was most upset when their Daddy and Mother brought her home from the hospital, but grew to accept her, cuddle her and say she was an “Old Dear.” Others picked up on it and for nearly 86 years it remained. In so many ways, the nickname was a beautiful fit for the most loving, kind, and generous person.

However whimsical that nickname sounds, Old Dear with her quick-witted sense of humor was a refined force of will with high expectations for herself and a commitment to helping others. She genuinely engaged and inspired everyone around her with her warmth, interest, caring, and fun.

On May 18, 2020, at the age of 85, the Lord received into His nearer presence, and embrace of Eternal Life His faithful and loving follower, Martha Canterbury Buford.

Martha was born in Tulsa, OK to Sam Canterbury and Martha Louise Sharp.

She is survived by her husband of 61 years, C. Robert Buford, son R.C. Buford, and his wife Beth, daughter Anne Sharp Buford, daughter Jo Siegfried, and her husband Tray, and sister Josephine Leslie and her five sons.  Old Dear was preceded in death by her father and mother, and her dear grandparents Robert C. and Josephine P. Sharp known as Mama and Papa Sharp. Old Dear’s grandparents played a very significant and defining role in her life. Old Dear relished her grandchildren: Chase Buford, C.C. Buford, Alexis Wangmene, Samer Jassar, Ray Siegfried, Bob Siegfried, Josephine “Josie” Siegfried, and Buford “Ford” Siegfried. Attending each one’s school’s Grandparents Day was always a highlight of her life. Each glue and crayon project is masterfully displayed throughout their home.

Old Dear grew up in Tulsa and graduated with a class of four women from Holland Hall (then a private school for girls) in 1952.  Following graduation, she attended Connecticut College for two years, and returned home to finish at the University of Tulsa, graduating in 1956 with a degree in Political Science.  She was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

On September 27, 1958, after dating for six years and possibly taking her greatest risk, she married C. Robert Buford.  Following their wedding, they moved first to El Dorado, Kansas and then settled in Wichita where they raised their three children.

Old Dear and Bob shared a deep love and heartfelt partnership, always caring, encouraging, believing in, and praying for each other.  Old Dear maintained unwavering support for Bob as well as a good amount of patience, as he did for her.

Bob and Old Dear loved their children deeply. They cherished the times they shared with Anne, R.C., Jo, and their families. Their devotion for each of them as people and parents was unending.

Her deep love for her grandchildren was shaped by Mama Sharp’s care and love for her as she grew up.  She was an enthusiastic and active grandmother.  Whether it was throwing a baseball, beating them all at ping pong, enjoying a fun game of dog bingo with Josie or the love affair of taking Ford shoe shopping, her grandchildren were her heart.  One of her heart’s desires was to make Christmas magical for them.

Old Dear loved to host her friends and those who generously gave of themselves and their time to do for others and animals - especially at Christmastime. She truly loved the spirit, magic, and meaning of every holiday, the floral beauty and bounty of each season, and the inspiration and joy that the holidays inspired in her and all who gathered.

As her children grew to adults, Old Dear was asked by an old friend, Monty Johnson, to be on her first board for the Salvation Army which led an unconscious reinvention into, as one friend described her, “a professional philanthropist.”  Her service as a life-time member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board led her to carefully devote her heart to numerous causes and philanthropic endeavors.

She loved serving others, taking care of animals and seeing needs in unexpected places. Despite her realism about hardships, she was an inveterate optimist, seeing good and beneficial opportunities to serve everywhere. Denied jury service on a child abuse case, instead she began years of work with The Child Advocacy Center.

In 2016, upon reading in the Wichita Eagle that a police dog had been killed, Old Dear called the Wichita Police Department K-9 Unit about replacing the dog. Later asked “why” by her daughter Anne, she replied “because I serve on the Sedgwick County Zoo board, I know the City has limited resources, and I thought I could help.” The Wichita Police Department K-9 Unit had new champions in Old Dear and Bob, and the Bufords made many new friends who also adored dogs!

Old Dear’s passion for animals was not limited to dogs. As a member and supporter of Sedgwick County Zoo, Old Dear traveled to Africa on trips hosted by then Zoo Director, Mark Reed, to enlarge her knowledge of the animals.

Old Dear loved the Lord, a passion she enjoyed sharing with her oldest granddaughter, C.C.  She was a faithful member of Eastminster Presbyterian Church where she served as an Elder. She took her role of learning and sharing the Bible and her call to Christian fellowship, engagement and comforting seriously. For 25 years, Old Dear hosted Bible studies at her home on Wednesday mornings.

Intertwining everything she loved back to her family and her family roots, The Sharp Chapel at the University of Tulsa was donated by her grandparents. Old Dear carried forward their vision serving on the Chapel Advisory Board focused on keeping the Chapel relevant in the lives of the University students.

Given Bob had gone to college on a football scholarship, he brought a new sportiness to Old Dear’s life, family and travels. Her children’s and grandchildren’s passion for sports gave Martha a pretext to travel, a favorite pastime. She was delighted to go anywhere to watch them play or see sporting events. From going to Holland to see grandson Chase at the age of 10 play soccer, to surprising Ray with fun seats to a Kansas City Royals game, to driving to Tulsa for Bob’s Bishop Kelly lacrosse games, to watching her son R.C. win an NBA championship, it was all the same level of wonderment to her.

Always ready to take on a challenge, Old Dear expanded her personal horizons – literally – she learned to fly.  She earned her twin-engine aircraft certification and her instrument rating, even though neither her husband nor children were ever allowed to fly with her alone without a more experienced pilot. In her typical fashion, however much she loved flight and space, her piloting was purposeful because in the event the pilot had a health issue, she wanted to know how to protect her family and land the plane.

Old Dear’s life was deeply defined by her Lord, her faith, her family, her kind heart, her flair and her philanthropic works. She approached life with gratitude, humility, and respect.

Well done good and faithful servant.  Soli Deo Gloria – “To God Alone Be All Glory”


For Tulsans, please send contributions for The Martha Sharp Canterbury Buford Sharp Chapel Memorial Fund - at Sharp Chapel - The University of Tulsa to:

Buford Family Foundation , Designated: Martha Sharp Canterbury Buford Sharp Chapel Memorial Fund (MSCBSCMF), 1223 N. Rock Rd #A200, Wichita, KS 67206

Charitable donations may be made to:

Salvation Army
350 N. Market, Wichita, KS 67202

Flowers or live plants are also welcome.

Sedgwick County Zoo
5555 Zoo Blvd., Wichita, KS 67212

Wichita Police Department K-9 Unit
455 N. Main, Wichita, KS 67202

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Martha Buford, please visit our flower store.


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