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John Aldrich Buzga January 4, 1940 - April 3, 2020

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There was this easy going, fun loving guy that everyone adored named John Aldrich Buzga. John was born Jan. 4, 1940 in Sharon, Pennsylvania to Aldrich and Mary Eleanor (Simon) Buzga.

I say fun loving because John was the guy you didn’t give your best wine glass too, yes, you know why, and if you sent him to the store for corned beef hash, he’d come back with roast beef hash, really, yes really, and who knew Home Depot could be completely out of sprinklers on a Sunday afternoon, but they were if you sent John to find a sprinkler!

John could unintentionally be the center of the most hilarious comical skit you’ve ever seen. You’d sit there and look at the person next to you and wonder if this guy is for real or putting on an intentional show, then you’d realize, nope, that’s John, its for real!! He could laugh at himself better than anyone, and he loved to laugh.

But if you needed someone to come over on the spur of the moment to crawl under the car with you and hold a flashlight while you made a repair, John was your man. And if you were having a party and needed someone to BBQ for six or 60 hungry mouths, John was your guy! And after all those party-goers left, be it six or 60, John was always the one that stayed behind to clean up after them, no matter how long it took, he was always that guy.

Regardless of what plans he had made for himself, helping his friends, his family or his church always came first. You could always call John and he’d be right there. You could always depend on John. You could always trust John.

John chose an early graduation from Sharpsville High School in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania in April 1958 so he could join the USCG. He went to boot camp in Cape May, New Jersey then stationed in Boston, Massachusetts, then Storekeeper School in Groton, Connecticut then back to Boston. He eventually ended up on the Coast Guard Cutter Duane in the North Atlantic Ocean for 18 months then back to Cape May.

John got to play football with the USCG football team playing fullback and defensive back. At the end of his four years in 1962, John took a year off then re-enlisted  in the USCG as an E-3 1963 and headed to Juneau, Alaska on the Sweetbriar.

In 1964 John was fortunate enough to be sent to Officers Candidate School and upon graduation was transferred to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania as a recruiter to the 17th Coast Guard District Office. Being a recruiter in itself is not particularly noteworthy, but one of the ex-airman John signed up one day had been the Air Force recruiter at New Kensington, that made the local newspaper.!

John’s Coast Guard adventures continued. He went on to Portland, Main on the Acushnet to the North Atlantic for 18 months, then to San Diego/Long Beach on the Walnut as CEO. After that John took on what turned out to be one of his most rewarding assignments, Port Clarence Loran Station, Alaska, for one year. Port Clarence is about 75 miles NW of Nome, Alaska.

The Loran station was the largest man made structure in Alaska. It was developed as a US radio navigation system developed during WW II but since replaced by our GPS systems, thus demolished in 2010.

Next was three years in Baltimore, then a short stay in Cleveland, Houston, then XO Marine Safety Officer in Juneau, Alaska, Marine Safety Officer in Honolulu, Hawaii for four years, then three years back in Juneau, Alaska where he finally retired in August of 1985 as a Commander after 27 years wonderful years with the USCG.

But John couldn’t really retire. He moved back to Hawaii and hired on with National Cargo Bureau where he worked for another 20 years, retiring in 2005. Oh, did I say “retired”? No, John couldn’t retire that time either.

In 2006, John supposedly took on a part-time consulting  job with Matson Navigation as their Corporate Dangerous Goods Specialist. Well, he consulted with them part-time for about a month, then he went to full time which actually turned into a 24/7 travel out of the country a week or two a month kind of job for the next 12 years!

John gave it his all, right up until he had no more to give. John finally retired on Oct. 31, 2018, at the age of 78. He managed to do everything he could for everyone he could as long as he could.

Dementia is such a horrible disease. Is spares no one. It slowly takes everything from you and saddens everyone that loves you so and watches you slip away.

But I was living every woman’s dream being married to John. My girl friends would always ask me if there were any more where he came from or if he had any brothers. I was blessed with a man who loved unconditionally, who believed in sharing and caring. I finally found the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I didn’t get the rest of my life, but I got the rest of his. Our time together may have been cut short, but the great times we shared together will last my lifetime.

A man who put a smile on people’s faces everyday, a man who was so full of life and love. I am so thankful that I was able to share his dreams, hopes, love, friendship and so much more. You will always be in my heart John. The love and respect I have for you will never die.

He has left behind his wife, Ellen (Pretzer) Buzga , formerly of Vacaville; Ellen’s daughters, Jeanne Knapp, (John) and Leah Spencer, (Rick); John’s loving service dog/golden retriever, Jasmine, all of Gilbert Arizona; his son, John Patrick (Deanna) Buzga of The Woodlands, Texas; sister, Beverly, ‘Cookie’ Kendall of Poland, Ohio; brother, Rick (Barbara) of Pleasant Garden, North Carolina; and the apple of his eye, his nephew, Chief Master Sgt Ben Buzga, USAF (Stephanie) Ft Walton Beach, Florida; devoted caretaker, Joanna Santiago (Ron Huber) of Tempe, Arizona; grandchildren, Sean, McKenna, Amanda Rae, London, Jack and Duke and Duke’s Father, Daniel; one great- granddaughter, Isla, all of Phoenix; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends all over this incredible world!

John was preceded in death by his parents, Aldrich and Mary Eleanor (Simon) Buzga; and his youngest son, Mark William Buzga.

There will be services held in Pennsylvania at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, Donation can be made to Hospice of the Valley, 1510 E. Flower St., Phoenix, AZ 85014 or Alzheimer’s Association, 225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl. 17, Chicago, IL, 60601

Arrangements under the care of Legacy Funeral Home, Chandler, Arizona. You may leave condolences for the family at www.azlegacyfuneralhome.com

There will be services held in Pennsylvania at a later date.  In lieu of flowers, Donation can be made to Hospice of the Valley, 1510 E. Flower St., Phoenix, AZ 85014 or Alzheimer's Association, 225 N Michigan Ave., Fl. 17


  1. REPLY
    Molly Garcia says

    Ellen and family, chewy and I want you to know that we are sorry to hear of John’s passing. He was a great guy.

    • REPLY
      Ellen says

      Thank you Molly. Hope you and Chewy are doing well. I remember when John and I got married and you sent us that great fruit basket to Hawaii. It got there before we did! I sure miss him. 😢

  2. REPLY
    Dixie Boyer says

    Ellen, I’m so sorry I had no idea what you were dealing with. If you need anything please call me. John was a special man and had no idea he and Mike were born on the same day..
    May God Bless and keep you. Dixie

    • REPLY
      Ellen says

      Thank you Dixie.

  3. REPLY
    Cathy Carter says

    Ellen it has not been easy for you. You were with both your mother and your father till the end and now John. I can’t think of a better person to take charge and do the best job with this fragile life. Love you always. Cathy

    • REPLY
      Ellen says

      Thank you Cathy. This one was really tough. I’ve never loved or been loved like this. What a wonderful, loving and humble man John was. He truly made me a better person.

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