Tom Buford, veteran state senator, dies in Florida

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ) – Nicholasville and surrounding communities are mourning the death of veteran state Sen. Tom Buford.

He died early today in Pensacola, Fla., where he was on business taking care of properties there.

He was 72 and had been battling cancer.

“It is with great sadness that we learned today of the passing of our colleague and dear friend, Senator Tom Buford. Tom was a dedicated public servant who proudly represented his constituents in the 22nd District, and brought an abundance of insight and experience to some of the Commonwealth’s most complex issues during his over 30 years of service in the General Assembly,” said Kentucky Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens. “Tom’s wit, intellect, and zest for life will be missed by all who knew him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and loved ones during this incredibly difficult time.”

A Republican, Buford, who lives in Nicholasville, has been in the state Senate since 1991 and represents the 22nd Senate District covering part of Fayette and Garrard, Jessamine, Mercer and Washington counties since 1991.

He was re-elected the most recent time in 2018 and his term expires at the end of 2022. An replacement will have to be appointed until a special election can be held.

Buford served as Senate Republican Whip from 1991 to 1992. He was a candidate for the Sixth District United States House of Representatives seat in 2004.

Buford earned his B.S. from the University of Kentucky in 1971.

His professional experience includes working as president of Buford Property Management Company, executive vice president for Central Bank and Kentucky Bank, contractor and builder for Buford Construction and in property management, according to his legislative biography.

A member of the Nicholasville Christian Church, he previously was national Legislator of the Year and has been involved in numerous community groups, including the UK Alumni Association, Rotary, Arts Council, Humane Society, Jessamine County Chamber of Commerce, Jessamine County Education Foundation, and the United Way, among others.

In the current session of the Legislature, he served on Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee, Senate Banking and Insurance Committee and The Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee.

The following are statements from the political officials who mourn the loss of Senator Buford:

House Democratic Caucus Leaders Joni Jenkins, Derrick Graham and Angie Hatton: “Our caucus is deeply saddened by the passing of state Senator Tom Buford.  He has been a part of the legislature for 30 years and had a profound impact on the commonwealth and the district he represents.  Losing a fellow legislator is like losing family, and we were proud to work with him on bipartisan measures that are too numerous to count.  We extend our condolences to the Buford family and join with so many others in recognizing all the great things he stands for.  Kentucky will be poorer without him.”

Auditor of Public Accounts Mike Harmon: “I am saddened to learn of the passing of my friend, Senator Tom Buford. Not only was Tom my state senator when I was first elected to the House until the last round of redistricting, he was also a valued friend and a mentor to me when I was a state representative.

Tom had a great wit about him, and he loved serving the people of his district and the Commonwealth as a whole for over 30 years. Lynn and I offer our prayers and support to his family.”

Speaker David Osborne: “It is with great sorrow that we learn today of the passing of our friend and colleague, Senator Tom Buford. Tom was a hardworking, talented legislator and extremely committed to serving his constituents. As one of the longest serving current members of the Senate, Tom possessed an institutional knowledge like no other. However, he was as likely to be focused on our state’s potential as he was our past. His sense of humor brought levity to many difficult situations, providing an opportunity to overcome differences and seek resolution. Tom’s passing is a great loss to the Kentucky General Assembly. Our prayers are with our colleague’s family as they grieve the loss of this great Kentuckian.”

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers: “I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of my fellow senator and close friend, Tom Buford. I had the honor of serving alongside Tom in the Senate for close to 25 years, and was I lucky to have had the opportunity to witness his political acumen as well as his infectious sense of humor. Tom was proud to serve Kentucky as a state senator and to represent the wonderful people of the 22nd District. Tom was proud to be a father and husband to his wife, Carol, and two children, Stephanie and Beau. I want to convey the tremendous respect I have for Tom’s years of service to the Commonwealth. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.”

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell: “I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Tom Buford, a giant of the Kentucky Senate who dedicated three decades of his life to public service. I had the pleasure of working closely with Tom and know how deeply committed he was to our state and its people. His sharp intellect and extensive legislative experience were legendary throughout the Kentucky political world.

“Tom was unafraid to take on tough issues and fought hard for Kentucky’s most vulnerable, with a special focus on the disabled. The impact of his work could be felt far beyond the borders of his State Senate district, improving the lives of Kentuckians throughout the Commonwealth. He uplifted our state through his dedicated leadership, not just as a civil servant, but also as a caring father and faithful Christian.

“Tom’s constituents, colleagues, and fellow Kentuckians are profoundly saddened by this loss. Elaine and I share our heartfelt condolences with Tom’s wife Carol, his daughter Stephanie, his son Beau, his grandchildren, and the entire Buford family.”

Representative Kim King (R-Harrodsburg): “I am heartbroken to hear that Senator Buford passed away. Because my House District is located entirely within the 22nd Senate District, I had the opportunity to get to know him as we worked on district priorities. It was a privilege to work with him and an honor to be his friend. I will miss his sense of humor, his love for the people of our state, and the incredible optimism he showed regardless of the situation we faced. The loss of his leadership will be felt locally and in the halls of the Capitol. I hope that his wife and family find comfort in knowing their loss is shared by so many who held Tom dear.”

Representative Matt Lockett (R-Nicholasville): “The 22nd Senate District has lost a great leader and dedicated public servant. Senator Buford was a successful businessman who answered the call to serve our Commonwealth and provided great leadership to our state for three decades. It is an honor to have served with him. Tom led by example and put the people of his district first. I will miss my friend and his wisdom, but his legacy will live on in the good he accomplished. He certainly set the bar high for future generations of legislators. My heart goes out to Carol, Stephanie, Beau and their families as they learn to navigate a world without their husband and father.”

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