Former state senator represented town for 16 years

Published in the October 10, 2018 edition

RYE, New Hampshire — Former Massachusetts State Senator Robert Colby Buell, 87, of Rye, N.H. (and formerly of Boxford, Mass.), passed away on September 25, 2018.

He was predeceased by his parents: Mary and Ted Buell, as well as his siblings: Marilyn Corning, Betsy Uhl, and David Buell. He is survived by his three sons and their wives: Ronald Buell and Maggie Sutherland of Piedmont, California; Stephen and Deborah Buell of North Reading; and John and Casey Buell of New Durham, N.H. He is also survived by six grandchildren: Ryan Buell, Liza Buell, Henry Buell, Amy Phillips, Leslie Lufkin and Stevie Lewis, and one great-grandchild, Benjamin Phillips.

He was married to Jean Wetmore Buell for 46 years, who pre-deceased him in November of 2005. Bob, as he was affectionately known, was born on April 23, 1931 in Boston. He was raised in Wellesley by his parents, Mary and Ted Buell, and attended the Wellesley Public Schools. A gifted athlete, Bob particularly loved ice hockey and downhill skiing.

Following his graduation from Wellesley High School, Bob attended Union College where he played ice hockey. After his sophomore year, Bob enlisted in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and served in Garmisch, Germany until the war ended. Bob then returned to Boston University where he again played ice hockey, graduating in 1956 with a B.A. in Business.

Bob worked in the property and casualty insurance business for several firms in the greater Boston area for the next 60 years. He met Jean Wetmore in 1957 and they were married in 1959. They moved to Boxford in 1960 where they raised their family. Bob was very involved in local politics in Boxford, as well as coaching his sons in various sports with the Boxford Athletic Association.

At the urging of the Essex County Republican Committee, Bob ran for the 12th Essex State Representative seat in 1968 and won. He served as State Representative for that district until 1979 when he ran for the 1st Essex, Middlesex State Senate seat being vacated by Sen. William Saltonstall. He won that race too, and served his constituency, which included North Reading, until 1995 when he retired from politics.

During that time, he attained the role of Second Assistant Minority Leader twice. Bob never lost an election during his 26 years in public office. He was an old school politician who listened to his voters and frequently reached across the aisle to work out legislation.

Bob loved ice hockey and did not hang up his skates until after he turned 80 years old. He competed every summer after the age of 50 in the Snoopy Senior Men’s World Ice Hockey Tournament in Santa Rosa, California, helping his team win several championships there. Bob and Jean also loved to go downhill skiing in Europe. They took their honeymoon in the Swiss Alps to ski. After exploring multiple ski areas during the early years of their marriage in Switzerland, Germany and Italy, they found Lech in Austria and returned there every January for many years. They made many friends there and after Jean passed, he skied there one last time with his three boys (who had never been before that). It was a memorable occasion for all.

Bob also loved his family summer home on Lake Winnipesaukee in Tuftonboro, N.H. His father Ted purchased the place in 1939 and Bob spent many summers there as a child. At one point his parents were considering selling it and Bob vehemently fought against the idea. He was successful and the home is still in the family today. He spent summers there every year of his life and he will be laid to rest on that beloved ground, next to his wife Jean.

A memorial service will be held to celebrate Bob’s life, his athleticism, his service to his country and community, and most importantly his love of family and friends on November 3, 2018 at 1 p.m. at the Boxford First Congregational Church. A reception will be held following the service at the Ferncroft Country Club immediately afterwards. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Bob’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association, 309 Waverley Oaks Rd., Waltham, MA 02452 or visit their website at: