Patricia J. Buster
Patricia Buster rose above a humble beginning to become a pioneer in the field of home economics. Buster was the first known graduate of the University of Kentucky’s College of Home Economics to become a home economist in business at the national level. Through the latter half of the 1930’s, she was a major contributor to the introduction of electric appliances for the home, which improved the overall quality of life for families around the world. Buster wrote use and care manuals for these appliances. She also served on the standardized board of major appliance manufacturers and traveled widely, representing her company at national conferences and hosting professional leaders from around the country.
As a college student during the Depression, she worked her way through college, sometimes working three jobs at a time. Her relationship with Statie Erikson, then dean, provided the support she needed to complete her degree. According to Buster, Erikson “was my mainstay, my guiding light. She believed in me and convinced me to stick it out.” The example set by Erikson helped shape Buster’s career and gave her a touchstone by which to gauge her achievements. Their friendship continued until Erikson’s death in 1984.
After graduating from UK in 1934, Buster achieved distinction in her field in just four years. People who knew Buster said that her personal characteristics of perseverance, boundless energy and dynamic personality contributed to her success. But perhaps the most telling aspect of her personality and the reason for her success in life was that Buster was unselfish helping others in need and returning to others the results of her labors.
In honor of her mentor and friend, she endowed the Statie Erikson Scholarship in the College of Home Economics, thus aiding students who, like herself, had financial needs. Her generosity was also responsible for renovations to various facilities of the college, and for the John I. and Patricia J. Buster Endowed Professorship and Graduate Fellowship Fund.
Although she and her husband had no children, she “adopted” many young people through her involvement in the Future Homemakers of America, YMCA, and various programs such as infant care, playgrounds and youth drug rehabilitation programs. She once said, “I know all the hard roads in life. That’s why I have such a great interest in young people.” Her diverse concerns also benefited theaters, arts leagues, libraries, Midway College, The Colorado College, and Manatee Community College in Florida.