HAYWARD -- Chabot Community College's founding president, Reed Buffington, died June 9 at his Santa Rosa home. He was 94.
Buffington was named superintendent of the South County Community College District and president of the newly created Chabot College in 1961, a position he held for 20 years before retiring. Before that, he was dean of instruction for Diablo Valley College.
"Dr. Buffington was an outstanding leader for 20 years," said Zack Papachristos, Chabot golf coach. "He knew everybody on staff by their first name."
Buffington recruited 56 instructors from throughout the United States to start the college.
"He was very selective; he went for the elite faculty and staff. He wanted nothing but the best for the students," Papachristos said.
The school held classes in San Leandro until buildings at its current campus were ready in 1964.
Buffington supported athletics and was the first person named to the Chabot College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000, Papachristos said.
In 2010, the college's performing arts center was renamed the Reed L. Buffington Visual and Performing Arts Center.
Chabot President Susan Sperling met Buffington in 2012 when he gave the school's key commencement address, though she knew of his reputation for high standards long before then.
"People were always comparing other administrators to Reed, and no one ever measured up," she wrote in a notice sent to college staff members.
"Rumor had it that he would observe a faculty person comporting himself in a way Reed disapproved of out in front of Building 200, and he would interrupt a meeting in his office to rush out front to admonish that person then and there," she wrote.
At the commencement speech, Buffington "was well into his nineties and still the keen critical thinker and decisive orator of legendary fame," Sperling wrote.
Papachristos, who began at Chabot in 1969 as a wrestling coach, called Buffington the best leader he ever met.
"'I want quality and excellence': That was his motto," Papachristos said.
Buffington received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Chicago and his doctorate from Stanford University. He served in the Army in World War II.
He is survived by four children. His wife Elaine died in 2010.
A memorial service is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday at the Daniel's Chapel of the Roses, 1225 Sonoma Ave., Santa Rosa. Chabot will have a service for Buffington this fall, President Susan Sperling said; details are being worked out.