Melvin (Buddy) Gaither was born August 15, 1950 in Perryton, Texas to John and Joan (Woods) Gaither and went to be with the Angels on November 6, 2023.
Buddy grew up in Spearman, Texas and graduated high school in 1969. He had an amazing childhood with loving parents and a sister who always looked after her little brother. After high school he went to Oklahoma State Tech in Okmulgee and graduated with degrees in diesel mechanics and diesel fuel electrical injection. After graduation he worked on diesel engines in Dallas and Amarillo, TX. He was always good with his hands and could take an engine apart and put it back together with ease.
He worked as a high voltage shop extension electrician for Santa Fe railroad from 1973 to 1989, working both out of Amarillo, TX and then Clovis, NM. He traveled with the railroad working in many towns across both Texas and New Mexico on pole lines as well as electrical in railroad buildings. While in Clovis Buddy was also a member of the New Mexico Mounted Patrol for many years. He enjoyed riding with the state police and made many life-long friends. The Chief of the New Mexico Mounted Patrol asked Buddy to help him out by being the District Captain at one point which was quite the honor.
Buddy met his best friend and love of his life Debbie Howell in 1979 and they married on December 6, 1980. They were married for 42 years and 11 months and shared many wonderful memories. They both loved traveling and watching movies. Buddy was especially fond of Disney parks or as he called it "Mickey World". He loved Grumpy telling everyone Grumpy was his hero. Perhaps it is fitting that they were on vacation to Walt Disney World, his happy place, when he passed.
Buddy began working in Exterior Electric at Cannon Air Force Base in 1989 and retired 25 years later in 2014 when he was presented with a Meritorious Service Medal by Col Buono his Group commander, an honor normally reserved for active-duty military. He was so honored by this. He loved working with and training all the young airmen and made great efforts to ensure they learned how to work safely with high voltage electricity. Even though he and Debbie never had any children he loved the young military men and women and called them his kids. Many of them told him he was better to them and taught them more about being a good person than their own father. He made so many wonderful friends at Cannon including military, civilians and contractors.
Buddy battled many health issues while working and in retirement and always faced them with strong determination and bravery. He was as tough as they come, having both knees replaced at the same time and then climbing the water tower on the base to work on lights three months later. He always amazed everyone with his accomplishments.
Buddy enjoyed traveling with Debbie and family and friends, model railroading and working with his tools. After having a cardiac arrest in 2015 and losing his long-term memory, he enjoyed building LEGOs. He put together many especially loving to do Star Wars and Harry Potter sets.
Buddy loved his family dearly as well as his friends. He and Debbie always said some family is chosen for us and some we choose ourselves. Many called him Uncle Bud, even though he was not related to them, and this made him so happy. He was fiercely loyal, dependable and kind and someone you could always count on. If he said he would do something, he did it. Buddy made friends wherever he went, and everyone loved him and enjoyed his wonderful sense of humor.
Buddy is survived by his loving wife Debbie. She will miss him terribly but thankful he is no longer struggling. He is also survived by his sister Penny Gammill of Abilene, TX, his brother-in-law and sister-in-law Bill and Karen Howell of Amarillo, TX, his nephews Matt (Greta) Gammill of College Station, TX and Seth (Anna) Gammill of Dripping Springs, TX. His grandnieces are Madison, Olivia and Sophie Gammill, and grandnephew Garett Gammill.
He was preceded in death by his father John Gaither, his mother Joan Gaither, his father-in-law Ed Howell, and his mother-in-law Flo Howell.
Buddy's family is so thankful to all the wonderful doctors, nurses and physical therapists that worked so hard through the years to heal him and help him enjoy life more to include Dr Gary Moses in Albuquerque, NM, Dr Jon Shrader, Amanda Elam and Camellia Gallegos of Clovis Family Healthcare, Dr Mohammad Hassan, Dr Brian Zarikta and Dr Diane DeWitt of Clovis. Lubbock doctors include Dr Aurelio Cervera, Dr Fatima Salas, Dr Alan Haynes Jr, and Dr Fred Hensal. Most recently we appreciate the excellent care he received at rehab at Retirement Ranch in Clovis from all the nurses and assistants and physical therapists Bianca Diaz and Amy Leal and occupational therapist Tammie Jacobs. He also received excellent care from Dr Logan Kanode and everyone at Physical Therapy Care in Clovis.
Family visitation will be from 5-7 PM on Thursday, November 16, 2023 at Steed Todd Funeral Home.
Buddy's celebration of life will be held at 2 PM on Friday, November 17, 2023 at the chapel of Steed Todd Funeral Home, Clovis, NM with DJ Judkins, his cousin from Brownwood, TX, officiating. Pallbearers will be his nephews Matt Gammill and Seth Gammill, and his close friends Lee Rael, Jerry Hawkins, Larry Moreno, Ryan Wimberly, Anthony Gunter and Mike Jones.
Buddy will be laid to rest in Lawn Haven Memorial Gardens Cemetery. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to your favorite charity.