Dr. Edward Buzz Webb
Vice President for Student Affairs, Emeritus     
Humboldt State University
March 29, 1937 – February 22, 2024

Buzz died peacefully at home with his wife, Judy, and daughters Lisa and Sydney, by his side, after a long and hard illness — an end to a long, happy and successful life.

He leaves his wife, Judy; daughters Lisa (Erik) and Sydney (Geo) both of Homer, Alaska; his sister-in-law Salli Sachse, half sisters, Judy Webb and Peggy Webb; along with six granddaughters: Anna (Kevin), Miranda (Justin), Isabel (Emily), Larsen (Keaton), Malina, and Natasha. He was preceded in death by his son, David Webb.

Buzz was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on March 9, 1937. His father, a pharmacist, joined the Marines at the beginning of WW2. His mom. Marian, was a New York model who became a “Rosie the Riveter” in a defense plant in Indianapolis.

At the end of the war, Buzz, his mom, his sister Sandra and his dog Tippy took a train and joined their dad in San Diego. His Dad, Max, opened a pharmacy and the family settled in La Jolla.

Leadership seems to have come early in life. In sixth grade he was elected president of La Jolla Elementary School and was especially proud to have risen to Captain of the Patrol Boys that controlled traffic for students.

Not a great student at La Jolla Jr-Sr High School, he was accepted on probation to San Diego State College where he had to take dumbbell math. Having had enough of that, he shaped up and became a stellar student and scholar. He was president of his fraternity, Kappa Sigma, and supported himself by working for room and board at Brown Military Academy, where he coached PE for eighth graders and oversaw the study hall, swimming and JV basketball teams. The military draft was in effect, so many men joined the Air Force ROTC as he did. He rose to the position of Cadet Commander and was offered a regular Reserve Commission in the Air Force.

Buzz met Judy, his wife of 64 years, at La Jolla High School when she was 16. He said he saw her by the lockers and said he was “besotted.” They married after his college graduation in 1959 and set off across the country to his first assignment at Homestead Air Force Base in Florida, spending his uniform allowance on sightseeing. They stopped off in New Orleans for a few days, eating at then famous restaurants, Dinner at Antoine’s and Breakfast a Brennan’s and listening to great jazz,

His first assignment at Homestead Air Force Base in southern Florida where he was in the Air Police and in charge of the flight line. During the Bay of Pigs debacle he worked with the CIA to get the armed and angry Cuban fighters into the country. While there, he was a player and coach for both the basketball and volleyball AF team. Their first daughter, Lisa, was born in the base hospital in 1960. As a First Lieutenant, he was stationed at Driffield Air Force base in Yorkshire, where his second daughter, Sydney, was born in 1962. He was a missile launch officer on a RAF Base where the missiles were aimed at Russia. This was during the Cold War when Russia began moving missiles to Cuba and through diplomacy, the Cuban Missile Crisis was avoided and all of the U.S. missiles were then taken down.

After five years in the Air Force, Buzz made the decision to go to graduate school.

A talented administrator, he began his career at San Diego State University, while pursuing a master’s degree in public administration and political science. Buzz held various positions including Assistant to the Dean of Students and Director of Career Planning and Placement. In 1970, he received a PhD in psychology at California Western University in San Diego. In the San Diego community, he was a member of Rotary and a founding member of The San Diego Human Relations Committee, serving two terms as chairman.

In 1970, on a family vacation, he toured Humboldt State and fell in love with the small university set in the Redwoods.

Four years later in 1974, President McCrone hired him as the Dean of Students at Humboldt State University. Buzz initiated programs to HSU that had been successful at SDSU including many student activities and cultural programs that later morphed into Center Arts and Center Activities.

“He wanted to be part of building Humboldt State University into an outstanding university. Buzz loved the beauty of Humboldt County and wanted to put our surroundings to good use through programs and activities. He saw it as a perfect tie-in to the academic side and residential campus to make us a university where we can offer students a comprehensive experience in and out of the classroom, ” says Burt Nordstrom who worked with Buzz in Student Affairs where he was inspired by Webb’s vision.

Buzz created programs that left a mark on the University and the North Coast community. He was instrumental in the creation of Center Arts, supporting the effort to bring high quality performing arts programming to the region. Under his leadership the University expanded recreational programs with the addition of club sports, new outdoor adventures: backpacking, sailing, rafting, rock climbing along with expanding intramural sports. Buzz was committed to students. He valued them and placed them at the center of his work. In 1986 his title was changed from Dean of Students to Vice President for Student Affairs including added responsibility for campus police known as Public Safety.

Students came first and you could see that by his approach to management, said Rees Hughes former Director of Student Life. He would wander around campus, talking to students and colleagues.

He enjoyed recruiting students and also driving the bus for weekend geography class field trips.

Always an athlete, he loved basketball, volleyball, running, and later, cycling, when bad knees forced him very sadly to give up running. He had his own weight room at home and spent many pleasant hours working out.

Buzz loved music and loved to dance – to his own dance steps, hard to follow but great fun to watch. He was famous for his jokes often told on long backpacking trips in the Sierra. Some called them bad jokes (he took offense at that description), but they were memorable. Many remember a punch line or two.

Buzz was active in many community volunteer endeavors and projects: He spent two terms on the Headwaters Fund, more than 20 years as a Board member and as a volunteer Vasectomy Counselor at Six Rivers Planned Parenthood. He served on the Humboldt Library Foundation Board, and was a teacher with the Literacy Program. He enjoyed his involvement with Humboldt Mediation. Buzz was a longtime elected member of the Board of Patrick Creek Community Services District. A brave man, he served on the Northern Humboldt Union High School Board for two terms.

An avid reader, he was a proud member of the Manly Men Book Club.

Before he died, he wrote this about Joy:

I am 86 years old and under Hospice care because of a terminal lung disease and house bound with 24-hour oxygen dependency. It might seem counterintuitive to submit this as joyous.

Donald Hall, the New Hampshire poet and essayist wrote Out the Window from his family farmhouse. He, too, was house bound, but took pleasure in looking out his window watching the seasons change and the birds arrive and leave. Now I too am looking out my window watching nature. Reading is also a pleasure.

The joy comes from looking back with few regrets at a full life: a satisfying career, back packing in the Sierra, traveling after retirement, watching my children and granddaughters grow and mature. But most of all being married for 64 years to the same person I met in high school.

As we get older one gives up gracefully the activities we can no longer do — and we find new ones that better fit our capabilities. I guess that is where I am — with joy and contentment.

The Family thanks Robert, Kerry, Katy, Joni, Taylor and Harry, of Hospice of Humboldt, who became good friends and made the last 14 months of his life so much easier. Amy and Michael of Visiting Angels were caring and thoughtful caregivers.

Webb’s legacy of cultivating future leaders lives on through the Webb Student Leadership Endowment, established in 2005 by the Webb’s to recognize Humboldt students who make a difference. The fund supports, among other things, the Outstanding Student Awards, an annual event that recognizes the academic excellence and community involvement of students.

Please make donations to: The Webb Student Leadership Endowment, Cal Poly Humboldt, 1 Harpst St., Arcata, Ca 95521, Planned Parenthood of Northern California, 3225 Timber Fall Court Suite B, Eureka, Ca 95503, Hospice of Humboldt, 3327 Timber Fall Court, Eureka, 95503.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Buzz Webb’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.