PITTSBURG — Pittsburg State University and the local community are mourning the death of Brig. Gen. James "Jim" AuBuchon, a retired longtime PSU administrator, who died Friday, at the Kansas University Medical Center at the age of 77.
AuBuchon graduated from PSU in 1963 with a bachelor's degree and was commissioned second lieutenant in the United States Army. After a tour of duty which included a year in Vietnam, he returned to PSU and joined as an assistant director of the Overman Student Center. Then completed a master's degree at PSU in 1969 and a doctorate from Kansas State University in 1978.
He remained in the military until 1999 serving in the U.S. Army Reserve, including as deputy commanding general of the 89th Regional Support Command. He retired with the rank of brigadier general after 36 years of active and reserve duty.
Professor of Military Science Lt. Col. Kenneth Hutchison, (USA,) said AuBuchon always attended the ROTC commissioning ceremonies — and when he couldn’t make it would personally write a note to apologize for not being able to attend in person.
“He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word — a true officer,” Hutchison said.
Hutchison said AuBuchon also sent notes to congratulate the newly commissioned officers.
Hutchison said not only was AuBuchon a true gentleman and officer, he was very generous.
The Jim and Cathy AuBuchon Scholarship gives students an opportunity to focus on the important task at hand — academics — without worrying about finances, Hutchison said.
“It has been available without fail to a deserving student,” he said. “It defrays the cost of college and allows them to focus on their academics.”
With a Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal, and several other service ribbons and medals, AuBuchon was inducted into the inaugural class of the US Army ROTC National Hall of Fame last year.
AuBuchon’s served as an administrator in student affairs, in university development where he served as director of major giving, and in university advancement where he served as vice president at PSU. He also served as the executive director of the PSU Foundation.
He played a key role in raising funds to complete the Kansas Technology Center, Carnie Smith Stadium, the Polymer Research Center, the Student Recreation Center/Pittsburg Armory, and the campaign to design and construct the PSU Veterans Memorial, finished in 2004.
“His tenacity allowed him to not just define a vision, but to marshal the forces necessary to construct it," PSU President Steve Scott said in a release. "Our campus and our community are stronger because of Jim's unending desire to make a difference."
AuBuchon also served on numerous boards throughout the Pittsburg community — including Mount Carmel Medical Center (now Via Christi), the Family Resource Center and Southeast Kansas, Inc.
He served two terms on the Pittsburg City Commission, elected on April 19, 1991, which included two terms as Mayor in 1991 and 1995.
During his tenure in city government, Pittsburg added the Aquatic Center and the Research and Development Park, expanded the library, and constructed Fire Station 3.
Pittsburg City Manager Daron Hall said AuBuchon was a leader who made a positive influence in the Pittsburg community.
“Dr. AuBuchon’s impact on PSU and the community is impressive,” Hall said. “He was a city commissioner and a two time mayor, and while I only worked with him a short time, I respected his ability to get things done, improve those things he worked on, and make those around him feel better about themselves.
“He was a proven leader, a positive force and a good friend.”
In 2008, AuBuchon was the Spirit of Pittsburg winner, an award given by the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce and the Morning Sun.
Names and Numbers President and CEO Ken Brock said he got to know AuBuchon as a professional and as a friend.
AuBuchon came to Brock looking for someone to help transport the Vietnam Memorial wall sections which was to be placed permanently at PSU.
“His ambition and insight gave an opportunity to have that [the memorial] on campus,” Brock said.
AuBuchon also served as executive director of the Highway 69 Association — a group he helped form.
Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce President Blake Benson said he was impressed by the respect AuBuchon had during his trips to Washington, D.C. for the Highway 69 project — which Benson attributed to AuBuchon’s military service, community service and accomplishments at PSU.
“He was a great man, his service to this country, the community and the university will be remembered for many, many years.”
“We enjoyed those times,” Brock said. “Any time we are at the Vietnam Memorial for any event, or any project for Highway 69 — we will always have him in our mind.”
AuBuchon chose the columbarium at PSU's Timmons Chapel as his final resting place. A service honoring his life tentatively is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16, at the PSU Veterans Memorial.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the PSU Foundation – Jim and Cathy AuBuchon Scholarship in Education, in care of Brenner Mortuary, 114 E 4th St., Pittsburg KS 66762.
Additional information and arrangements will be announced by the funeral home.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.