Jim Buxman ’66 caught his first glimpse of Wheaton College early one starlit morning at 2 a.m. more than 50 years ago.
After a long bus ride from California, Jim was deposited by local train near the lawn of Blanchard Hall. As he climbed toward the lighted tower, he nearly tripped over the sign that reads “For Christ and His Kingdom.”
“I was overwhelmed with gratitude,” says Jim. “I knelt down and prayed for God’s blessing on those four years.”
The next morning, President V. Raymond Edman addressed Jim and the other early-arrival athletes.
“I remember one thing Dr. Edman said,” says Jim. “‘Not somehow, but triumphantly.’”
The advice stuck with Jim and helped him through a rough freshman year. He found the academics challenging, track too physically taxing, and a spot in Men’s Glee Club out of reach.
But Jim made it through the first academic year, and music gave him the strength.
Although he studied pre-med at Wheaton, Jim found time to immerse himself in music. He loved the student performance groups, chapel singing, and music appreciation with Dr. Alton Cronk HON. He also ushered during the Artist Series concerts, never missing a performance in four years.
During his sophomore year, Jim got his “big break” when he was accepted to play percussion in the Wheaton College Concert Band. He grabbed every opportunity to play, giving percussion lessons to young students, traveling with spring tours, and accompanying recitalists.
During his junior year—with a little help from “Cupid-minded” Dr. Cyril Luckman ’37—Jim started dating fellow pre-med classmate and gifted organist Melodie Williams ’66. The two married after Wheaton and entered UCSF School of Medicine, welcoming the eldest of three children, daughter Heidi Buxman Williams ’92, right before their graduation from medical school.
Heidi inherited her parents’ musical gifts, studying piano at Wheaton for three years before transferring to Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute. Today Heidi is a recording artist and associate professor of piano at Florida State University College of Music.
Jim believes his grounding in the Christian liberal arts at Wheaton helped him to become a better physician.
“My Wheaton education gave me insight into the nature and dignity of all people,” he says. “This helped teach me compassion and how to treat each patient as an important, created being.”
Today Jim is an enthusiastic supporter of the Armerding Center for Music and the Arts.
“The new center will open up more opportunities for music majors and non-music majors,” says Jim. “A central part of being a Christian is experiencing and appreciating music and the other arts.”
Retired from a career as a family physician, Jim continues to participate in his church choir and play percussion. He holds season tickets at the Oregon Symphony.
“People should see the Armerding Center for Music and the Arts as an exciting opportunity,” says Jim. “I encourage alumni, parents, and friends to jump on board and help get it finished because I know it’s going to be such a blessing to the College, the students, and to everyone.”
To see more about the exciting changes being made to enhance students’ experience of music and the arts, please visit our Armerding Center for Music and the Arts page.