June 22, 1918 ~ September 7, 2013
Melvin Earle Buffo was born the second son of Louise (DeStefano) and Lorenzo Buffo in Pittsburg, CA on June 22, 1918.
At an early age, Melvin was introduced to music, which developed into a lifelong passion. He began taking soprano saxophone lessons at the age of nine.
Starting at age 12, he traveled to San Francisco to be taught by famous saxophonist, Mickey Gillete. By age 15, he was playing in radio shows on KLX in Oakland. While attending Pittsburg High School, Melvin was asked to play in night clubs, though he was underage. For a time, he played in a combo led by composer/arranger and conductor, Carmen Dragon. Mel graduated from Pittsburg High School in 1936.
Melvin attended San Jose State with an emphasis in Music Education. He studied oboe and English horn, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree, cum laude, in June of 1941. During the summer of 1941, while playing in the Antioch Town Band, he met Dorothy May Zumwalt, the love of his life. Melvin and Dorothy were married on December 27, 1941, in Carmel, CA. In early 1942, Mel joined the Army Air Corps Band.He was stationed in Eagle Pass, TX and played in the concert band and the “Sky Liners” jazz band. His wife Dorothy joined him in Texas, where the first of their six children were born.
At war’s end, Melvin and his family moved to the Monterey Peninsula. He began his 30-year musical teach- ing career in 1948 and taught at many elementary and junior high schools in the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District. At Fremont Junior High (1952-1979), Mel created top concert and jazz bands and orchestras. Mr. Buffo was a beloved mentor to countless students, some of whom went on to become professional musicians and music teachers themselves. Mel’s reputation as a talented, tough-but-fair, and consummate music teacher was known throughout Monterey County. Melvin received many awards for his outstanding teaching throughout the years, including a United States Congressional Award. After retirement, Melvin was also a part-time music teacher at Monterey Peninsula College for several years and also took musical composition and arranging classes.
Melvin was blessed with many musical experiences including playing with the Monterey County Symphony, Monterey Peninsula Choral Society, Carmel Bach Festival, Salinas Rodeo Band, Monterey Peninsula College Concert,