BREAKING NEWS: Clovis says goodbye to legend Floyd “Doc” Buchanan

By Valerie Shelton

Photo Contributed by Clovis Unified  Floyd Buchanan plays a game of frisbee with Clovis Unified students.
Photo Contributed by Clovis Unified
Floyd Buchanan plays a game of frisbee with Clovis Unified students.

On Tuesday, August 11, Clovis lost one of it’s greatest icons—the legendary Floyd “Doc” Buchanan, who passed away at age 91.

Doc was a champion of education, serving as the first superintendent of the Clovis Unified School District from 1960 to 1991. Under his leadership, the district excelled and garnered national recognition. Even after stepping down from his post as superintendent, the great Doc—whose name will forever be a fixture in the community thanks to Buchanan High School—never stopped striving to better the lives of kids in Clovis.

Just weeks before his passing, Doc stepped up on his soap box again, championing on behalf of Clovis Unified students in writing a letter published in the July 15 issue of the Clovis Roundup about the need for the same collegiate programs and services at the new Clovis Community College as are offered at Fresno City College.

“It’s time for residents living in the Clovis Unified School District to have a comprehensive college and that means facilities for vocational education training,” Buchanan wrote.

Photo by Valerie Shelton Clovis Unified Superintendent Janet Young shares her memories of Doc Buchanan at a press conference Tuesday, August 11.
Photo by Valerie Shelton
Clovis Unified Superintendent Janet Young shares her memories of Doc Buchanan at a press conference Tuesday, August 11.

A champion for Clovis up until the very end—that is how today’s Clovis Unified leaders, who looked to Buchanan as their mentor, will remember him.

At a press conference held August 11, current Clovis Unified Superintendent Janet Young and other district administrators shared their memories of the late district leader.

“Today, with the passing of Floyd “Doc” Buchanan, the world lost a visionary genius,” Young said. “As we prepare to start Clovis Unified’s 56th school year, the news of Doc’s passing is especially poignant. Clovis Unified’s team of educators and leaders are committed to carrying on Doc’s legacy to make the positive difference in the lives of students now and far into the future.”

Doc Buchanan left behind quite a legacy for Clovis educators to continue.

Here are just a few facts about Buchanan, as shared by Clovis Museum’s Peg Bos in the Sept. 13, 2012 edition of the Clovis Roundup:

Two basic standards guided his decisions: “Is it good for the kids?” “Every kid deserves a good education.” He is a brilliant visionary with a tenacious focus on goals. He believes that all students deserve an education that will prepare them for future opportunities in life.

Doc's charge“Doc-ism”: “We’re too poor to buy cheap.” He was quick to assure our rural-conservative population that it was best to buy an expensive “Cadillac” over a cheaper model since it would last twice as long. The taxpayers were converted and historically have supported school bonds for new schools and upgrading of older schools. Inner city schools in Clovis have not been neglected. It is standard procedure to maintain quality teachers, resources and equipment at all schools.

“Doc-ism”: “Document the facts, minimize the variables and 90% of your goals will be achieved.” Doc believed that variables are excuses for not accomplishing a task.  

“Doc-ism”: “Value people above programs.” Doc interviewed every new teacher and staff member. He was very perceptive and hired those who were intelligent and had a passion for excellence. Doc believed everyone was accountable for their professional performance. He was quick to remove barriers, establish factual goals, and give his employees professional freedom. He stated: “Make sure there aren’t too many people in charge, give teachers the best materials and then stand back and cheer them on.”

“Doc-ism”: “Competition is a good motivator.” Doc believes everyone wants to be a winner and competition builds strength and endurance. Six months into his new position, disgruntled “Clovis Boosters” met with him with major concerns. He convinced them that change was good. At the close of the meeting he was invited to join the club.

“Doc-ism”: “4-3 vote of the Board of Trustees is a majority decision.” Doc respected the “loyal opposition”. He honored tradition and values but was a visible, strong, determined leader of educational change. The 1960 unification of seven independent districts created open antagonism. Doc and the dress code were key issues in a 1964 recall that failed. He still admires the dedication and support of four trustees that remained loyal to his vision. He understood that they were life long members of this community and would not relocate as he would if the recall prevailed.

Former Board member Ralph Lynn recorded “Platitudinous Preachments of Doc”:

“A school district without accountability is like a car without breaks.” “There is nothing worse than a fired up untrained gladiator” “Success is not   final and failure need not be permanent.” “Win with class, loose with dignity.” “What do you think would happen if we let the kids in on what we are doing?” “Don’t get on your educational horse and ride off without the kids.” “If you are being burned at the stake, you may have carried too much wood.”

A full story on Doc Buchanan and his legacy will appear in the Aug. 26 print edition of the Clovis Roundup.