By Kaila Braley
Family, friends, students and colleagues gathered in the Ecumenical Center last Saturday to honor retired FSU professor John Budz, who died on Dec. 30.
He worked at Framingham State University for 35 years as a psychology professor. He also worked as a clinical psychologist and organizational consultant for years.
One of Budz’s former students and close friends, Dan Remillard, said, “Though I will try, there is no one story or event that will capture what it was like to know him.” He said that any description would only “pale in comparison.”
He added that Budz would spend hours on the phone talking to him and giving advice. When presented with a choice, “one of his favorite sayings was ... ‘Why not do both?’”
Remillard spoke about how Budz’s wife Judy helped him “live within the confines of the physical world without dampening his spirit ... and helping him reach his goals.”
He added, “Together, they went through their most auspicious journey – that of raising Jody.”
Budz’s daughter, Jody Budz, spoke with exceptional poise and eloquence when she addressed the crowd. She said, “I’ve heard so many people talk about my father’s strength and his persistence,” but more often she remembers their more private moments.
She remembered the way her father would put her hand over his as he shifted gears in his beloved Porsche, take her to go look at new cars and walk around Harvard Square, encourage her to take risks and was always there to rescue their pet birds when they got into difficult situations.
Perhaps most importantly, she added, he taught her to always want to learn. She said Budz wrote a eulogy for his own father’s funeral in which he spoke about how his father had taught him that if he enjoys what he does and continues learning, it will feel like he has never worked a day in his life. This is a lesson he would pass on to his daughter, she said, even when she wasn’t in the mood to hear it.
She said his guidance has led her to “inevitably follow in my father’s footsteps.” She has, in fact, almost completed her doctorate in psychology. She added, “While I’m now on the path to actually become a psychologist just like my dad, what I hope for more is that one day I can leave my children the same intimate and fond memories that he left for me.”
Budz’s longtime friend of 40 years, FSU Sociology Professor Hank Tischler, said, “It’s not about a life that’s ended – it’s about how a life was lived. He was all in.”
Tischler spoke about Budz’s passion taking over his living space, as he bought an “endless number of books and magazines” about a particular topic of interest to him.
Tischler said he and Budz would spend hours on the phone together, their wives asking what they were talking about for so long. He added that he feels as though Budz is still here through his photos and memories.
Helen Heineman, former FSU president and Budz’s colleague, talked about how Budz called himself her “prince,” adding that he was “everyone’s prince.”
She said he was dedicated to undergraduate education, creating “unique and original research and publication” while receiving “glowing” student evaluations. She added that while it’s unfortunate that some people believe private universities are superior to public, Budz “raised the self-esteem” of the community at Framingham State University.
Heineman remembered Budz’s passion for photography, which he devoted more time to in the latter part of his life. She said Budz’s photographs of FSU’s faculty, sta[ and students became “like family photos ... recording, as they did, our collective identity.”
She added that Budz can be seen through his photos by the subjects’ reactions to him. These pictures line the McCarthy Center walls, she said, allowing his presence to always be a part of the campus. She recommended that an exhibit of his photography be featured at the 175th anniversary celebration.
Close family friend Chris O’Flinn agreed that Budz comes through in his photography, in the “universal comfort, admiration, curiosity, love, respect [and] confidence he inspires” in his subjects.
O’Flinn described Budz as “indomitable,” not only through his sickness, but also in his life choices and “commitment to knowledge.”
O’Flinn recounted a time when Budz attended graduation, and the valedictorian, who had been in his class but had minimal contact with him outside of the classroom, had referred to him in her speech as the “epitome of a human being.” While O’Flinn and Budz’s wife Judy had teased him about this initially, he said, “She got it exactly right.”