Buford Sturgill: A lifetime of service and compassion in Wise County


NORTON, Va. – It isn’t hard to find someone in Wise County who has been touched by the life of Buford G. Sturgill. This long-time resident of Wise, Va. continues to dedicate his life to the service of others both in his profession and in his generous commitment to volunteer work. 

As a professional funeral director for more than 46 years, Sturgill helps countless families mourn and celebrate the lives of their loved ones. As a caring citizen, he serves on community boards that help to improve local health care, banking and even the Virginia/Kentucky District Fair. 

Sturgill currently serves on the board of directors for Norton Community Hospital, Dickenson Community Hospital and the Norton Foundation executive committee. For 37 years, he served as chairman of the NCH board of directors, beginning in 1972. His nearly four decades of service have seen the hospital expand and develop new services, all the while maintaining the utmost quality of care for its patients. According to his peers, Sturgill has a way of unifying the board while encouraging each member to express his or her opinion and participate in discussion and debate. 

“He drove us to make well-thought-through decisions that sometimes called for lively discussion, but we always left the boardroom as friends,” said Bob Leonard, who served as Sturgill’s vice chairman the entire time Sturgill led the board of directors. “That is a hard thing to do, but he made it look easy. He led and continues to serve with compassion, never letting the board make a decision without first considering the effect it would have on patient care and the welfare of the hospital’s dedicated team members.” 

Current chairman of the NCH board of directors, Charles “Jibber” Ward, said Sturgill has earned his respect. 

“Buford is a man of impeccable character and morals,” Ward said. “He unselfishly gives his time and efforts to serve on numerous boards and committees that have provided valuable services to our region.” 

Mark Leonard, CEO of NCH, echoed Ward’s praise. 

“We respect the many dedicated years of service that Buford has given to this hospital,” Leonard said. “He is a tremendous leader, counselor and advocate for our patients, our team members and the community.” 

In his professional life, Sturgill gives that same compassionate attention to every family who has needed his services as a funeral director. 

“He embodies the perfect blend of professionalism and compassion, making sure that the family’s needs are met with great concern and sympathy,” said Will Gipe, pastor of Gladeville Presbyterian Church. “Buford works behind the scenes taking care of details, and in some cases fixing my mistakes, without ever seeking credit. He is one of the most life-smart and gracious people I have ever met. He knows how to get things done and how to treat people respectfully throughout the process, and he doesn’t care who gets the credit.” 

Sturgill was recently honored with the 2010 Tom Chase Award from the Mountain States Foundation. The award is presented each year to an individual who represents integrity and leadership excellence and has a record of service to his or her community that spans different disciplines. 

“I was surprised, but honored to receive this award,” Sturgill said. “Many thanks to those who nominated me and to the Mountain States Foundaion. I'm proud to be a part of making Norton Community Hospital the hospital of choice for the people of Wise County now and in the years to come." 
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