January 9, 1921 ~ August 24, 2008

Born in: Hayesville, NC,
Resided in: Evansville, IN

BUFORD W. PENLAND Buford Wright Penland, born January 9, 1921 in Hayesville, NC, died Sunday evening, August 24, 2008 in Evansville, IN. He was preceded in death by his wife Rebecca in 2001 and by his brothers James Eugene and Cecil Penland and his sister Elvita Setzer. Buford was the son of James ("Blind Jim") Penland and Iola Penland. He grew up and attended school in Hayesville, after school frequently setting poles and stringing cables at his father's telephone company. After graduating from Hayesville High School and moving with the family to Asheville, Buford studied chemical engineering at N.C. State University in Raleigh. Upon his graduation in 1944, Buford married Rebecca Lee Franklin, was hired by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., and was commissioned in the U.S. Navy where he served as an engineering officer in the Pacific. After his discharge from the Navy in 1946, Buford and Rebecca moved to Akron, OH, where he worked as a chemical engineer for Goodyear. During this time the family expanded with sons James Franklin born in 1947 and William Randolph in 1950. Buford was chosen to participate in Goodyear's uranium enrichment program; he was moved to Oak Ridge, TN, for training in 1952, then a year later to Lucasville, OH, where the "Goodyear Atomic Plant" was being built. He managed the construction and then the operation of one of the sub-plants at Lucasville until 1962, when he was relocated back to Akron. In Akron, he founded a very successful department in Goodyear International which leased Goodyear's polyester manufacturing processes to foreign companies. In this position, he traveled to such places as Mexico City, Tokyo, Istanbul, Frankfurt, Seoul, and Paris. In 1980 Buford was offered a transfer back to Oak Ridge to assist with a new Goodyear nuclear project there. Since Oak Ridge was much closer to his Appalachian home, and since he was nearing retirement, he accepted and moved south. In 1982 he retired to pursue his hobbies of raising rhododendrons and azaleas, working on family genealogy, feeding and attracting a huge variety of wild birds in his back yard, collecting antique telephones, and writing a short book about his father. In 2005, Buford moved to Evansville, IN to be near his son William. Buford leaves behind his sons William (wife Lynn) of Evansville, IN, and James (wife Tracey) of Moorpark, CA, grandsons Jim and John Penland, granddaughter Julia Dykstra (husband John Dykstra) of Girdwood, AK, and great-grandchildren Wesley and Murphy Dykstra. He is also survived by brothers Philip Penland and Talmadge Penland, both of Asheville, by sister Robin Fraley of Hendersonville, NC, and by numerous nieces and nephews. Visitation will be held at Groce Funeral Home on Patton Avenue in Asheville on Saturday, August 30, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Services will be held at 3:00 p.m. in the chapel with interment at Green Hills Cemetery. The Reverend Bill Snyder will officiate. Donations can be made to the First Presbyterian Church, 1051 Oak Ridge Tpke., Oak Ridge, TN 37830, or to University of Tennessee Arboretum, 901 S. Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, TN 37830.

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  1. Thinking of all of you tonight. Buford will be missed by so many he loved and supported through the years. Our love reaches out across those years and to you now as you say your peace for now.

    Jane Penland Hoover

  2. Buford was a dear friend and neighbor and we mourn his loss. Our thoughts are with his family. Love, the Burke and Cremese families

  3. Words cannot express the sorrow we feel during this time of loss for your family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this trying time.


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