By Alyssa Schnugg
Ret. Command Sgt. Maj. Buford Babb Jr., 87, died Thursday at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi.
Born Marvin Buford Babb Jr. in Memphis, he was the son of the late Marvin Sr. and Ollie Blanche Wilbourn Babb. He attended University High School in Oxford where he was a member of the football team and a pitcher for the baseball team, according to his obituary.
The funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. in the chapel of Waller Funeral Home with Bro. Will Anderson and Bro. Bobby Cobb officiating.
Visitation will be held prior to the service in the West Hall at noon. Burial will follow at Eastover Memorial Cemetery.
Babb graduated high school in 1953 and attended Northeast Mississippi Community College on a football scholarship.
Not long after, he joined the Mississippi Army National Guard where he served his state and his country for 41 years.
During his time in the Guard, he served with Troop E, Second Squadron, 108th Armored Cavalry Regiment based in Oxford.
One of his most notable active-duty deployments was to the University of Mississippi during the unrest around the university’s integration by James Meredith.
Friend and fellow Guardsman Ret. BG, USA Bill Waller Jr. called Babb the “greatest soldier ever to put on a uniform.” The two men served together for about 20 years. He told Hotty Toddy News Friday that on the day of the Ole Miss Riots, Babb took charge and helped push back the rioters.
“Babb shouted the command, ‘Fix bayonets.’ The 20 guardsmen in line assumed a riot control formation and started to push the crowd. The crowd melted back into the darkness and the assault was thwarted,” Waller said. “If (Babb) hadn’t taken charge, the Lyceum would have been overrun.”
Waller used a quote from William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” to describe his friend.
“He was a man. Take him for all in all. I shall not look upon his like again.”
As a part of his service, Babb ran the Oxford Armory for more than 25 years. He is a past Commander of the American Legion Post 55 in Oxford. He loved football and worked as a referee for many years. Babb was a past leader of the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts of America Troop 146 and was an avid woodworker.
He is survived by his wife, Lavera Anderson Babb of Oxford, and a son, William ‘Andy’ Babb and his wife, Debi, of Oxford.
Memorial contributions in Mr. Babb’s memory may be made to South Oxford Methodist Church, 2920 South Lamar Boulevard, Oxford, MS 38655.