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Time Marches On - Buck Shaffer clock arrives
It's here! And there is a lot of excitement in Porterville.
The much anticipated Frank 'Buck' Shaffer town clock has arrived.
See the video
I hope to post a story on this very soon but in the meantime -
Mark your calendars for the clock unveiling.
Saturday, Nov. 8 - Fabulous Music Jam II
10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Porterville Centennial Plaza - downtown Porterville
Posted: February 27, 2008
Letter from Jim Kusserow,
Porterville High School Band Director

Dear Editor and citizens of Porterville:

My name is Jim Kusserow, and I am the proud band director at Porterville High School.  I am writing to the people of Porterville and surrounding communities to rally behind a great cause which originated from a classmate and former Panther Band member Mr. Robert Roman.  Robert knew that Porterville's iconic band instructor Mr. Frank "Buck" Shaffer had a dream for a clock in Centennial Park in downtown Porterville.  He and many other concerned citizens organized a wonderful day of music during our Veteran's Day celebration and people of all ages were able to hear music of all styles well into the evening.  This was a great event, but unfortunately, the amount raised was not enough to get the clock ordered and to get the project completed. 
Let me give you a little history as I quote from Buck Shaffer's autobiography, "It's All About Bands". 


 "Sitting in front of Porterville High School, I count not believe what I saw: a gorgeous two-story building with huge pillars in front.  I figured any town with a building of this magnitude for the students must be supportive of its educational system.  That convinced me to keep my appointment." 
 Buck contemplated turning around and heading back to Los Angeles until he saw that school.  He chose to keep his appointment and remained (arguably it's most influential) a citizen of Porterville until his death December 1, 2006. What if Buck had turned around, and the legacy that he was destined to build wherever he ended up had occurred in another community besides Porterville?  Thousands of young people would have never had the opportunity to learn from not only one of the greatest music educators, but most influential teachers of our generation.  I was one of those thousands of people who were greatly influenced by the teachings of Buck Shaffer.  This may seem odd to those of you who read this who are not musicians, but most of the lessons I learned from Buck had nothing to do with music.  I learned how to set a goal and achieve it.  I learned how to work with others to achieve a common goal.  I learned how to listen. I learned that being kind to another person is the way to deal with people in this world.  There are two quotations that are still taped to the desk that Buck sat behind for 37 years at PHS.  The first reads "Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength." Eric Hoffer  The second states " From a father to his son: Boy, treat everybody with politeness, even those who are rude to you.  So remember that you show courtesy to others, not because they are gentlemen, but because you are"  De Salle   These quotes say a lot about how Buck led his life.  Was he demanding in the classroom?  Absolutely!  Did he demand respect? Without question!  Was he fair to his students, parents, and others and did he treat them with respect?  Yes he did.  In order to achieve the accomplishments that Buck and his bands succeeded in accomplishing requires one thing that I probably heard him say hundreds of times.  "You must have self discipline if you are going to achieve anything in this world."  This lesson applied directly to every student who left that band and went on to become a doctor, policeman, electrician, farmer, businessman or dare I say, music instructor.
     The influence that Buck Shaffer had on the shaping of this community and how it is recognized in the world is immeasurable.  When Monache high school was built, and my good friend and outstanding music educator Dale Anderson came here to build his own amazing legacy there, the foundation was already established.  Porterville was becoming known as "Band Town USA".  That description of how Porterville is known did not come from me, but from a well respected college music instructor who used those words in a letter I received a few years ago.  What better description of a community could we ever ask for?  People all over the world know of our city as a place that cares for its young people and supports their endeavors in education and particularly in the arts.  The tours that Buck took across the Far East and across this great nation of ours, and that Mr. Anderson and his outstanding Monache bands took around the country and throughout Europe served as nothing but positive goodwill for Porterville, California.  Many people who graduated from those programs, and I now include the wonderful Monache band under the direction of Justin Adams, and the Granite Hills band program which was originally led by Mr. Tim Bonnar, and now by Troy Rexelle, continue to live here and have chosen to raise their families here. 
  What better contribution could we possibly give for the legacy that Buck began 55 years ago, than see that his dream of a clock in downtown Porterville is completed in short order?  I challenge the citizen's of Porterville and surrounding communities to contribute to this very worthwhile cause and help give back what so many of us have received from the teachings of this great man.  If every man, woman, and child in Porterville contributed 50 cents to this cause, the fund raising effort would instantly be complete.  If you are a member of a service club, please consider this clock a major focus of your contributions for the betterment of our community.  I plan on asking for a few dollars more for my Panther Band Concert tickets this year, with the amount raised going directly to the clock project.  I challenge other musical and artistic organizations to make an effort to give something in any way that that you are able.  Graduating classes have an opportunity to help as well.  I suggest you get information about this project called "Time Marches On" to your classmates and challenge them to help it as well.  The PHS Class of 1967 has already done this and we thank them for their help!  To those of you who have already contributed, the committee and I thank you very much, and if you just have not taken the time to make a donation, I ask that you do it right now, while you are thinking about it.  I can think of no better way for the people of this great area, with such a rich tradition in music to make a difference and help establish something which will be here for generation after generation to enjoy!  Please join us, and help us get the clock completed, so we can all see Bucks' vision of Time Marching On become a reality.  Thank you very much.


Musically yours,
Jim Kusserow
Director, Porterville Panther Band
PHS Class of 1976
Send Donations to:
 "Time Marches On" may be sent to the Porterville Recorder
Porterville Recorder
c/o: Sheila Seaman
Porterville Recorder
115 E. Oak Avenue
P.O. Box 151

Porterville, CA 93257

Click here to see what donors are saying about
Buck Shaffer's vision of Time Marching ON


Nov. 6, 2007

Revamped display honors Frank Buck Shaffer


Goal: Focus on student performers.


story and photo by Esther Avila

published November 6, 2007

When Porterville's musical icon Frank "Buck" Shaffer died in December, he left behind more than a legacy: He left behind thousands of band photographs, dozens of 8mm films, more than 150 audio tapes and lots of other memorabilia from his 37-year career as band director of Porterville High School - and from the 16 additional years of teaching music at local elementary schools after his retirement in 1990.

"I found the best stuff [Buck Shaffer] had and I'm using it all," said his son, film editor Bill Shaffer. "My dad always had his movie camera around and he was always shooting."

Buck Shaffer owned an 8mm Bolex movie camera that he bought from local photographer and historian Jeff Edwards from Edwards Studio on Main Street, Bill Shaffer said.

Bill Shaffer, a Hollywood movie editor/producer who has edited numerous feature films - including Disney's "The Mighty Ducks," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," "Mulan," "Atlantis," and his latest film, "Meet the Robinsons," - spent hundreds of hours sorting through dozens of boxes of material left by Buck Shaffer to update the music room at the Porterville Historical Museum.

The end product - including a nine-minute short film featuring the life and musical accomplishments of Buck Shaffer and a 22-minute slide show presentation of hundreds of never-before-displayed band photographs dating back to the 1950s and set to music from the Porterville Panther Band's "Americana" and the Fabulous Studio Band's "Have Band Will Travel" LPs - is now available for public viewing at the Porterville Historical Museum.

"The video that Bill Shaffer put together is like opening a door into Buck Shaffer's home movies. It is a tremendous montage of memories from Buck's 37 years at the helm of the Panther and Studio Bands," said Jim Kusserow, band director at Porterville High School, who played in Buck Shaffer's band in the 1970s. "Buck had a great sense of humor and he thankfully recorded not only some great performances and events that took place over time, but you also see the lighter side, because I know that he would laugh as hard as anyone at some of the stuff that's on that video."

"Buck Shaffer was behind the camera lens filming Bill Ingram and Eddie Hunt doing their hilarious antics whenever the band had some down time on a tour. It was Buck Shaffer filming Eddie Buchanan with his headphones on listening outside the Watergate building in Washington, D.C."

A 30-minute audio presentation featuring the Fabulous Studio Band on the "Far East Network Radio Show" can also be heard at the museum.

"When I look back at the 1961 band that my brother played in that traveled to Okinawa, Japan, Hawaii and Korea, I notice the smile that Buck had when he was bringing American big band music to people all over the world. It was the same thing on the tours with both of his bands throughout the years," Kusserow said. "Buck always seemed to be happiest when we were on the road, or doing a big show somewhere. He would plan and organize, and then he could see his hard work pay off with a great performance."

Museum volunteers are also enthusiastic with the new exhibit.

"The old display was more formal - lots of plaques of honor - and that was great, but this is all about the kids. It features their music. You can see their pictures. It's beautiful," museum volunteer Marilyn Bonds said. "We are so honored to have it. This was the most important thing to Buck - his kids."

Bonds, who had four children play in the Porterville Panther Band, said Buck Shaffer taught the musicians more than just marching music.

"They learn to play everything from classical music to marches to jazz and big band music - that's what I like," Bonds said. "All of that is tied into the display. We also got all of Buck's records, his ledgers and his record albums. We have it all. I keep looking at the display and each time I do, I find something new. There's a lot of beautiful memories brought back for a lot of people - especially anyone who knew Buck or who played in his band."

In the film are clips of the Pasadena Rose Parade, Squaw Valley 1960 Winter Olympics, Disneyland over several decades, Washington, D.C., Seattle World's Fair, New York World's Fair, New York City, and the band's performance at Carnegie Hall.

Also seen in some of the footage are clips of famous guest artists - the late trumpet virtuoso Rafael Mendez, and the "world's greatest drummer" Louie Bellson, and Skip Shaffer - Buck Shaffer's son, a former Panther Band member and member of the Airmen of Note - the premier jazz ensemble of the United States Air Force.

Among the items on display are Buck Shaffer's vanity license plates, his Air Force hat, a letter from Walt Disney, the movie camera Buck used to record the films and Buck's antique reel-to-reel tape recorder. In addition, miniature replicas of items associated with Buck Shaffer - his pink thunderbird, a school bus and the school's rally wagon are all represented.

"I didn't attend the ceremony when the Giant Sequoia was named in Buck Shaffer's name, but I can be there through this recording. There are many other important events that I had only heard about that I am able to see now, like the Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, the World's Fair in Seattle, Wash., and one I participated in, performing for President Ford in 1975," Kusserow said. "I highly recommend that all citizens of Porterville visit the Porterville Museum and see the wonderful job that Bill Shaffer has done with pictures and sound to honor his father, the late, great Frank "Buck" Shaffer. I can guarantee you that it will be time well spent."
September 4, 2007

PHS Class of 1975 spearheads "Time Marches On" committee


PHS students push Shaffer’s vision for town clock

Committee: Time Marches On’s goal is to raise $22,000.


By ESTHER AVILA for The Porterville Recorder

 published September 4, 2007

When Centennial Park was being planned, the late Frank “Buck” Shaffer, Porterville’s musical icon and Porterville High School’s former band director, went to City Hall to offer music ideas and other suggestions for the new park.
“Buck had a vision for a clock — a town clock,” said Felipe Martinez, mayor pro tem. “He had already done some research of different styles and different clocks and brought in pictures of what he had in mind. This was a month or so before his stroke. His vision did not come to fruition.”
Now the Porterville High School Class of 1975 would like to see Buck’s dream come true. They are spearheading the “Time Marches On” committee to raise an approximate $22,000 to purchase and install a four-dial Howard- or Seth Thomas-type street clock to place in Centennial Park at the corner of Main Street and Cleveland Avenue.
The clocks and their bases can have heights up to 20 feet, and can weigh up to 400 pounds. Though an actual clock has not been selected for Centennial Park, the committee does know that it must have four faces — one in each direction. The words “Time Marches On” will also be inscribed on the clock. The clock will stand inside a planter and be surrounded by bench seats.
All work provided for the clock, and surrounding setting — from the electrical to the masonry — will be donated. And the committee is hoping that local high schools’ horticulture departments will donate and plant flowers and plants.
“We want this to be a true community effort,” said Robert Roman, head of the committee and a drummer in the Panther Band under Shaffer from 1972 to 1975. “I don’t want it to be just labor. I want the community to come out and have fun doing it. But we want to start raising the money and get it going.”
Before they can order the clock, an approximately 40-percent down payment is needed. Once ordered, it will take 15 to 20 weeks for delivery.
“We want to place either a bronzed sculpture — a band director with his wand — or music notes on top of the clock,” Roman said. “There is not enough that Porterville can do to repay this gentleman.”
When he first heard about Shaffer and the town clock suggestion, Roman discussed the matter with friends — other former band members who graduated in 1975 — and they all decided to do something about it. They changed the name of the committee from “Class of 75” to “Time Marches On” to be more inclusive of all years and of the community in general.
“We are asking all former band members to help. Imagine if every band member who ever marched under or knew of Buck Shaffer, pitched in five bucks — that would cover it,” Roman said. “What better way to honor him than by carrying on with the dream that he started?”
Martinez, also a PHS Class of 1975 graduate, echoed the sentiment.
“There are usually about 400 kids each and every year in the band — and Buck came to Porterville in 1953 — that is a lot of kids,” Martinez said. “There are two things that Porterville is known for. One is patriotism and the other is music — and Buck represented both. He was a very patriotic individual and music was his passion.”
Martinez also pointed out that some local families have two or three generations of children who played under, or were influenced by, Shaffer, a 53-year music instructor who was still teaching music until his stroke in October 2006. He died Dec. 1.
Shaffer’s son, Skip Shaffer of New Jersey, said he was unaware of Buck Shaffer’s clock dream but is pleased with the prospect.
“My father was very civic minded. People were always suggesting he run for mayor. The clock gives him a connection to Main Street — the center of the city and the heart of town,” Skip Shaffer said. “It is nice to have him recognized by the city of Porterville.”
To kick off the fundraising, the committee is planning a “Fabulous Music Jam” for Oct. 27 at Centennial Park.
“Lots of music by lots of groups — many of them band alumni. Nostalgia, Latin Friends, and the Crash Street Kids from the ’70s will reunite and play. We’re also trying to get [band] San Andreas Fault to play,” Roman said. “But it’s not limited to band alumni. We have a wide variety of music planned. We will have Mariachi music there. All of the musicians are donating their time.”
A request to close Main Street and Cleveland Avenue has been submitted to the city and Roman said they plan on having lots of vendors, food, arts and crafts at the musical celebration.

To donate:

Make checks payable to

The City of Porterville
with a notation "Clock Fund" in memo
and with a note that you read it on
Time Marches On
934 W. Henderson #262
Porterville, CA 93257
OR drop off to:
Sheila Seaman
The Porterville Recorder
115 E. Oak
Porterville, CA 93257

Band honors "Buck" with hometown   show

Fabulous Studio Band director Jim Kusserow in Shinnston, WV


Story and photo by


The Porterville Recorder

published June 19, 2007

SHINNSTON, WV – Fathers’ Day was extra special for the people of Shinnston, West Virginia and others who gathered at the Shinnston Fire Department to listen to a concert by the Porterville Fabulous Studio Band and to reminisce about one of their town’s most famous native sons – the late Frank “Buck” Shaffer.
Shaffer, Porterville High School’s former band director and creator of the original studio band, was born in Shinnston and served as their band director before transferring to Porterville. Shaffer suffered a major stroke a few days before he was scheduled to return to Shinnston for a concert and museum-wing dedication in his honor. He died on Dec. 1, 2006.
“We drove five hours just to be here today. I can’t think of a better way to spend the day and honor his memory,” said Virginia Jurcak of Warrenton, VA. “This was quite a treat.”

Virginia, 80, and her husband Florian, said Shaffer played at their wedding reception in 1948 and when they heard that the Fabulous Studio Band would be in town, they immediately made plans to return to Shinnston to attend the concert.

It was a sentiment echoed by many in the crowd – from those who never met Shaffer to people who had known him for decades.
“I was here in 1978 when the [studio] band played here last time,” said John Greco, 51. “It is always a treat to hear the band. My parents, aunts and uncles were all great friends with Buck Shaffer. I never knew him but they have passed many stories down. Buck used to have some great dances behind the firehouse. There are a lot of World War II veterans here who remember that. He is like a son to the town. It is nice to know that his legacy lives on in the people of Porterville.”

 Also in attendance were Buck Shaffer’s sons, Bill Shaffer of California and Skip Shaffer of New Jersey.

John Oliverio, who said he has lived in Shinnston for 93 years, met Shaffer in 1953. Many of the people in attendance said they had been affected by Shaffer. Floyd Fullen, 68, played in the Shinnston high school band for three years and Lee Martin, 71, said he was pulled into the band in sixth grade.
Randall Hall, who played in Buck Shaffer’s Shinnston High School marching band, said there were many people in the audience who loved and remembered the man who started the studio band.

“After he left here, we all knew that the legacy was going to continue. He developed one of the most traveled high school jazz groups in the United States,” said Hall. “Buck, as a person and as a musician, was inevitably one of the most talented musicians I have ever met in my lifetime. Because of him I became a band director for 30 years.”

Hall retired 19 years ago but continues to teach at two colleges and offers private tutoring. He was also a professional musician for many years and said he owes it all to Shaffer. The two were scheduled to perform “Somewhere over the Rainbow” together at the October concert.

“He was such an inspirational person. He was always concerned about all of the students. He was always anxious to see them succeed, not just in band, but in life,” Hall said.
It was a sentiment that Jim Kusserow, director of the band, agreed with. And taking the band to Shinnston and playing in Shaffer’s hometown was an honor, not only for him but for his band.
“My dad told me that the gig that will make this trip will be Shinnston,” said Jordan Shoemaker, who plays the keyboard in the studio band.
Jordan’s father, Mark Shoemaker, played the trombone and keyboard for Shaffer’s studio band for six years.
“When Buck Shaffer passed away on Dec. 1, I knew we needed to come here – not sure if for me or for the people of Shinnston – but I just knew the band had to perform here,” said Kusserow. “The people here have been incredibly friendly and gracious and there are so many connections to the Shinnston people. There is a bond between Porterville and West Virginia that will not be broken and that is very special. When you have a bond like ours that has grown over decades, that is not something you can walk away from. Our history of the band started here in this town and it is a very special place.”


‘Buck' laid to rest

 By Esther Avila,

for the Porterville Recorder

published Dec. 7, 2006

From the moment Frank “Buck” Shaffer's casket entered the sanctuary at First Baptist Church in Porterville, it was obvious that the service would not be an ordinary one. It couldn't be. It was Frank “Buck” Shaffer's funeral - and, wanting to keep it short and simple, he had planned it all months ago.

“It was just like Buck planned and we tried to do it exactly how Buck wanted,” said son Bill Shaffer. “The main point I wanted to get across, and [the] Rev. [John] Eby did just that, is that God is in charge now. Buck is no longer in charge.”

With Jim Turner playing “All the Things You Are” on piano, the 500-plus people in the sanctuary, balcony, chapel and social hall grew silent as Miguel Soto, Porterville Panther Band drum major solemnly led the way as seven other Panther Band members - in full uniform - served as pallbearers for Mr. Shaffer.

The day was to honor a man who touched with his influence and his personality, not only the people in the room or the people across Porterville, but people across the United States, said Eby.

After vocalist Doug Scarbrough singing of “Amazing Grace,” Eby read a couple of scriptures before his short sermon on Second Corinthians, Chapter 13, verse 11. - a verse, he said, commemorates Mr. Shaffer's life.

“Finally, brothers, goodbye. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you,” Eby read. “This service is to focus not on him, but the things he loved - focus on his church, focus on his God, focus on his country. More than anything else, Buck wanted the focus not on him but rather on his vision.”

Eby talked of Mr. Shaffer as a visionary - dreaming big and when learning of a need, envisioning ways to fill the need. Big dreams included the Porterville Christmas parade and the Band-A-Rama - both started by Mr. Shaffer. Eby talked of Mr. Shaffer's musical excellence and joked about Mr. Shaffer's political preference before continuing with more scriptures and prayer - thanking God for Mr. Shaffer's life, and for his vision - before reading the sermon verse again, this time changing the words.

 “Finally, Lil gal - and lil fellow - goodbye,” Eby finished the verse. “That is his advice to you and to me.” And as Turner played “Stardust” on the piano, the Panther Band pallbearers led Mr. Shaffer out of the sanctuary.

Outside, the Panther Band Orange Blossoms waited for Mr. Shaffer, to salute the man they held in high respect and honor.

At Old Porterville Cemetery, the entire Porterville Panther Band waited for Mr. Shaffer, and after a cadence drum beat, played “Abide with Me.” American Legion Post 20 presented the American flag draped on Mr. Shaffer's casket to his widow, Peggy Shaffer.

And as the pallbearers laid their white band gloves on the casket, tears could be seen flowing down the faces of many in the crowd.

 “I usually release a white dove but Buck was one of a kind,” said Jonell Webb as she prepared to release a special gray-colored dove. Webb, who releases doves every Band-A-Rama, said she told Mr. Shaffer that she would release more doves than ever during his funeral - two representing each year that Mr. Shaffer was loved in Porterville.

After Honor Guard members of the firing squad fired a three-volley salute, the band played “America” as the doves - 106 of them - flew overhead. The audience grew silent once more as Jim Kusserow started playing “Taps” - the silence broken only by the sound of subdued crying from people in the crowd.

After the graveside ceremony, hundreds headed to the Porterville Veterans Memorial Building. One section of the hall - a close replica of Mr. Shaffer's office - was created by Bill Shaffer. From Mr. Shaffer's glasses on his desk and other memorabilia on the wall to the tape recorder Mr. Shaffer used - the room was admired by those in attendance.

“I wanted to do something neat,” said Bill Shaffer. “Everything on the desk is verbatim. The eagle [above the desk] is placed in the exact position and the trophies date back to the 1960s - and as far as I know, it includes every plaque he has ever gotten.”

And through the evening, people stopped to laugh, reminisce and share stories about a man they say they will never forget - Porterville's own - Frank “Buck” Shaffer.


Porterville loses an icon

By Esther Avila,
for the Porterville Recorder
 published Dec. 4, 2006
Within hours of Frank “Buck” Shaffer's death, son Bill Shaffer placed a large American flag on the side of Mr. Shaffer's home. A second flag was lowered to half staff on the flag pole in front of the home.
Mr. Shaffer died Friday evening in Porterville after suffering a massive stroke on Oct. 22.
“Buck's death is a real loss to the whole town of Porterville,” said Reynold Rutledge, retired band director of Bartlett and Pioneer Middle schools and a former student of Mr. Shaffer. “I've known Buck for 53 years. I thought the world of him. He has done so much for Porterville and for the kids.”
Porterville Mayor Cameron Hamilton said he was saddened by the news of Mr. Shaffer's death.
“He was an absolute icon for Porterville and put us on the map, musically speaking,” Hamilton said.
As word of Mr. Shaffer's death spread, people in the community and Mr. Shaffer's former students echoed similar sentiments about a man who changed not only Porterville, but also individuals, for the better.
“He shared his vision of what the band could be - and I was impressed,” said Jim Todd of Hawaii, Mr. Shaffer's first drum major for the Panther Band in 1954. “He chose me as his first drum major - I don't know why and I had my doubts about doing it. I was his devoted student from then on.”
“He could visualize things for you in such a way as to make you understand that it could be done, and you could do it,” Todd said. “I went on to play clarinet in the U.S. Coast Guard Band of the Pacific. Other teachers can take the credit for teaching me the mechanics of music, but it was Buck that taught me that I could stand up in front of people and have the confidence to actually perform.”
The sentiments continued.
“The town has lost a great teacher. I lost a good friend,” said Dale Anderson, Monache High School's former band director. “He was very instrumental at my being hired to start the Monache High School Band and ever since 1969, he's been a close friend and we have both respected each other so much over the years. I think that was the key to our friendship.”
Rutledge said he was impressed with Mr. Shaffer's dedication to the band.
“Besides all of his professional degrees - his bachelor's, master's and doctorate - he had a counseling credential and an administrative credential. He could have done a lot of other things that paid big money, but he didn't. He loved music and he stayed on as the Porterville Panther Band director. I think he is one of the finest band directors - the best of the best.”
Mr. Shaffer was born Aug. 6, 1921, in Adamsville, W. Va. After graduating from Shinnston High School in 1939, Mr. Shaffer attended Fairmont State College where he played in the Fairmont College Band, eventually forming his own band - Buck Shaffer's Orchestra: West Virginia's Youngest Dance Band.
Mr. Shaffer served four years in the U.S. Air Force. He was stationed at Lemoore Naval Air Base - now Lemoore Naval Air Station - in Lemoore where he played lead alto saxophone in the jazz band. He also played in the 36th Army Air Corps Band and was later ordered to Muroc Army Base. While in the service, he was dance band leader for many Air Force shows and engagements at the famed Hollywood Canteen.
Mr. Shaffer took a position as the band director at his alma mater - Shinnston High School, in 1946 before accepting a position for alto clarinet chair with the Bob Strong Band - a big professional band. Mr. Shaffer eventually returned as the Shinnston band director. He moved to Porterville in 1953 to take a position as the Porterville Panther Band director. Mr. Shaffer semi-retired in 1990 but continued as a music educator for elementary school bands.
Mr. Shaffer also founded Porterville's City of Hope Spectacular and the Buck Shaffer Band-A-Rama. In 1997, Mr. Shaffer was honored by having the theater inside the Porterville Memorial Auditorium dedicated as the Frank “Buck” Shaffer Theater and an exhibit at the Porterville Historical Museum focuses on Shaffer and his Porterville Panther Band.
Mr. Shaffer was also the founder of the Fabulous Studio Band, a Porterville band composed of high school and junior college students. The band played Big Band-era music of Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, The Dorseys and Stan Kenton.
Under Mr. Shaffer, the Fabulous Studio Band toured for the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command, covering the western states during Easter vacation for the GIs. Mr. Shaffer's band was also sent to the Orient by the U.S. government to play a six-week tour for GIs in Japan, Okinawa, Korea and Hawaii. He toured the U.S. in 1964, covering many military bases along the way, playing at officers clubs, NCO clubs and service clubs. While in Washington, the band played at the National Press Club, for the U.S. Senate, the State Department and at Little Theater by Washington's Monument.
Their summer of 1966 Tour of the U.S. included 42 shows in the Orient for servicemen and in areas of Okinawa to bring the U.S. goodwill, as well as numerous Air Force bases and a concert at the Pentagon.
During a 1972 tour, Mr. Shaffer and his band were honored on the presidential yacht USS Sequoia. The band also played during the opening year of Disney World in Florida during the tour.
In 1970, a giant sequoia tree was named after Mr. Shaffer by the Western High Sierra Association for his work with the community's youth. The tree is located in the “Grove of Honor” at Sequoia Crest in Sequoia National Forest.
“Buck Shaffer was simply the greatest man I have ever been fortunate enough to meet. Buck had a positive influence on all stages of my life. He taught me how to make the most of every opportunity,” said Jim Kusserow, former student of Mr. Shaffer and current band director at Porterville High School. “I remember feeling so honored to have been chosen to lead the Panther Band upon his retirement, and I continued to seek his advice in all areas of my life, not just with music.”
“Buck taught by example, and it was an example that I will always strive to meet,” Kusserow said. “I will miss Buck tremendously, but I have so many great memories that will continue to help shape and guide me throughout the rest of my career and life. I will forever be indebted to Buck Shaffer for sharing his wisdom, guidance, courage and beliefs with me; and for believing in me when I was a young music educator.”
Mr. Shaffer was preceded in death by his first wife, Candy Shaffer. He is survived by his wife, Peggy Shaffer of Porterville; two sons, Frank “Skip” Shaffer, of Galloway, N.J., and Bill Shaffer of Sherman Oaks; and one granddaughter, Lucy Shaffer of Sherman Oaks.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to The Porterville Panther Band, 465 W. Olive Ave., Porterville, CA 93257, or the Porterville Historical Museum, 257 N. D. St., Porterville, CA 93257.
Myers Funeral Services in Porterville is in charge of arrangements. Visitation will be from 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Myers, 248 N. E. St., Porterville. The funeral service is scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church, 101 N. G St., Porterville.


Buck Shaffer returns to Porterville:
Esther Avila/Porterville Recorder, Nov.24, 2006
Frank “Buck” Shaffer is resting comfortably at Porterville Convalescent Hospital on Morton Avenue after being relocated Wednesday night to Porterville following a 10-day stay at a rehabilitation facility in Visalia.
Shaffer, Porterville High School’s former band director and Porterville’s musical icon, suffered a massive stroke on Oct. 22. He has been hospitalized since. Though unable to speak, he was able to recognize people.
 “Bill and I thought it was best for Buck to come back home to Porterville at this time,” said Skip Shaffer. “We are glad he’s back in town.”
Shaffer’s wife, Peggy Shaffer, and his sons, Skip and Bill, said they wish to thank the community for their prayers and kindness.

 “He’s resting comfortably,” Bill Shaffer said. “We continue to appreciate [the community’s] prayers because this is the time we need them.”

 published in The Porterville Recorder on Oct. 25, 2006
Shaffer remains stable

By Esther Avila, for the Porterville Recorder

The news of Frank “Buck” Shaffer's recent stroke and hospitalization has caused an emotional outpouring of support from across the nation.

Shaffer, who suffered a stroke Sunday, remains in stable condition at Sierra View District Hospital, said his wife, Peggy Shaffer.

“There's not a lot of change,” Peggy Shaffer said. “But he's holding on. He can't talk but he has had a lot of visitors. He recognizes them and he is alert, but there is still no real change.”

Many former students have been visiting, calling or writing.

“I was very sad to read the news this morning about Buck. But I smile to myself when I think of what an impact this man has made on the lives of so many young people,” said Karen Willshon, former student, now living in Studio City. “As we look back as adults on our years in Buck's band, he not only taught us good musicianship, but now to conduct ourselves like respectable ‘lil' gals and lil' fellas' in other areas of our lives. I wish him the best.”

Other students responded with similar sentiments.

Alan Litsey, professor of theater at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Ala., said he was saddened when he learned of Shaffer's illness.

“Buck Shaffer is a hero and an inspiration to the entire community. I cannot imagine anyone who has touched more lives. He is a great man,” Litsey said. “Buck takes a keen interest in all students, and I was no exception. Buck advised me to take advantage of every positive opportunity in my path. His brief and wise words were to the point. ‘You've got to make your own Hollywood,' he said. So many young people have made their own Hollywood, inspired by Buck's tremendous leadership as a teacher, artist, and role model.”

Judith Singley Frickensmith of Monticello, Ill., read the news online and also heard it from her mother, who is a family friend of Shaffer's.

“Buck has always been a wonderful friend to me and my family and we are praying for his return to health,” Singley Frickensmith said. “Buck is such a special person, always so kind and giving of himself, and he adds so very much to everyone's lives.”

And more than 2,500 miles away from Porterville, in Shaffer's original hometown, where Shaffer was scheduled to perform a concert Saturday, people who knew him have also been responding to the news.

“People here were truly fond of the man. He was a favorite son here,” said Leigh Currey Merrifield, editor of The News and Journal newspaper in Shinnston, W. Va, and who has known Shaffer all of her life. “He had really been looking forward to coming home for months. I know many of his old friends and former band students who had planned to attend. The concert is naturally canceled but the program at the museum will go on. It will not be the same without his presence but people attending will be praying for a complete recovery. No one has ever forgotten Buck Shaffer's loyalty to his hometown. During the days when he was on tour, he'd always come by and most of the time, we were included in every tour. He never forgot where he was from. There are a lot of sad faces in town and all of the people in town are praying for him.”

It was a sentiment also expressed by Lee Martin, a former student of Shaffer's when he taught at Shinnston High School.

“When I first heard, it felt as if I had the wind knocked out of me. We are all pulling for him. We were all torn up when we heard the news. We are very concerned,” said Martin, 70. “We have a community band and we meet every Tuesday night. We plan on having a moment of silence and prayer for Buck tonight. And if prayers and thoughts are heard, than he should be just fine.”

Martin went on to reminisce about Shaffer. He became Shaffer's student at age 11 and especially remembers parading down Huntington, W. Va., at 1 or 2 in the morning - just because Buck decided to do something different and fun, Martin said.

“In those days, the high school band did not have enough musicians, so if you were good enough, Buck would pull you into the band. I was in sixth-grade when I started marching with the high-school band. I was in the band for seven years, six of them under Buck,” Martin said. “I've always held Buck Shaffer in the highest esteem of friends I have in this world. And I can't tell you how much fun we had when Buck moved in to Shinnston. He was the most innovative person ever to get in front of the band. If you looked up the word ‘Class' in the dictionary, you would see a picture of Buck Shaffer. He is a fine, fine individual. It knocked the wind out of everyone when we heard about his stroke and we have him on prayer chains and prayer lists up and down the town.”

Maxine Wesser, volunteer and board member of the Bice Ferguson Memorial Museum in Shinnston, said the town was really anticipating his arrival.

“He was our most famous band director. We're all distressed. We were really looking forward to his visit, which is always a highlight for us. He has always been a home town boy and everybody loves him,” Wesser said. “We had been building up for weeks and every week there was a story in the paper about him. He sent us lots of memorabilia for the museum. And we're going on ahead with everything else that was scheduled for Saturday. It's what Buck would have wanted.”

published in The Porterville Recorder on Oct. 24, 2006
Frank ‘Buck' Shaffer admitted into hospital

By Esther Avila, for the Porterville Recorder

Porterville musical icon Frank “Buck” Shaffer was in fair condition Monday night after being admitted to Sierra View District Hospital Sunday, said Shaffer's son, Bill Shaffer, 48.

“He's had a stroke. An [aneurysm] broke and there was a little bleeding, but they are watching him right now. His doctors have been in and there is reason for concern but they are observing him,” Bill Shaffer said. “He can't talk but he does recognize people.”

Bill Shaffer said the community has been great, with many former students and band directors visiting his father.

“Dale Anderson, Justin Adams and I went to see him about 1 p.m. [Monday]. It was hard. He can't talk and his hand was clutched but I put my hand on his and gave him some encouraging words. His eyes lit up and it looked to me like he could understand. He wanted to speak and it [appeared to be] frustrating for him,” said an emotional Jim Kusserow, Porterville Panther Band director and close personal friend. “We need to pray. The whole town needs to pray. It's all in God's hands. I still believe he has a lot to do and I don't believe it is his time. I can't predict what will happen, but I do know that I will be there every single day to see him.”

Kusserow succeeded Shaffer as the Porterville Panther Band director in 1990.

He has known Shaffer since he was 9 and was invited to play with the Fabulous Studio Band on one of their shows.

“I tried to talk to my band today. It took me 10 minutes for a single word to come out. I could not talk,” Kusserow said. “I told my band that everything I learned about life, I learned from Buck Shaffer. That's a fact.”

For Adams, Monache High School Band director, the visit with Shaffer was also emotional.

“Buck is one of the patriots of Porterville. We had more than half a century of him being one of Porterville's icons. I have known him on a personal level for 10 years,” Adams said. “The time we spent with him today was surreal. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”

The hospitalization comes just five days before Shaffer was scheduled to travel to his hometown of Shinnston, W.V. to play a concert and have a section of the local museum opened in his honor during a special “Buck Shaffer Day” celebration Saturday.

A special U.S. Postal Service commemorative “Buck Shaffer Day” cancellation stamp is also planned for Saturday.

In an Oct. 17 interview, Shaffer said he was donating an old Edison recorder and an RCA Victor to the new Shinnston Museum.

“Both of those were given to me by people in my hometown and I felt they ought to be in that museum,” Shaffer said.

Shaffer said he was planning on playing his saxophone at the concert.

“I'm playing all by myself and am planning on playing excerpts of songs that we have played with the [Shinnston High School] band when I was there and then move on to play music from when I was in the [U.S.] Air Force and play some popular big-band tunes,” Shaffer said. “The climax of the concert will be a tribute to the servicemen and people who have died for our country.”

Shaffer also said he planned on playing “Taps,” “God Bless America” and a few patriotic songs before ending his solo concert with “Amazing Grace.”

“At the end of the concert, I have asked a former student [Grandal Hall] of mine to join me in one final number. I had him from 1947 to 1953 and he has gone on to do great things in music,” Shaffer said. “He's like Jimmy Kusserow. He's played with the big bands, and has had a very successful band. We will play ‘Over the Rainbow.' That will be my final climax.”