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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Sharing the Fruits of a Blessed Life: Bob Buechner

By Cynthia Smith

Long-time Hyde Park resident Bob Buechner is a husband, father, grandfather, lawyer, author and volunteer. It is this last role that perhaps most characterizes his life, because he has done so much for so many for so long.  

Since high school, Bob has been giving back from a life filled with blessings: 
- While a student at Cincinnati Country Day School (CCDS), he helped start a Service Club that volunteered at Findlay Street Neighborhood House in the West End, playing basketball and boxing with urban youth. - At Princeton, he served the Orange Key Society, which led tours of campus, ran a student advisory network and sold ads for the Triangle Show playbill. 
- In law school at Michigan, he started a Medico Legal Advisory Group that gave seminars to undergraduates on the medical and legal consequences and potential risks of using marijuana and other drugs.
Bob in his office at BHMK with a painting by Barbara Chenault depicting his favorite pastime 

Literacy and Sports 
As an adult, Bob continued volunteering, focusing on literacy and mentoring youth through sports:
- At People’s Middle School, (now John P. Parker), he read Encyclopedia Brown stories with 6th and 7th graders. He recruited others from his church, Hyde Park Community United Methodist (HPCUMC), and later from the Cincinnatus Association, and developed “cluster” - or team - mentoring, which continued for 25 years in the Cincinnati Public Schools. 
- In 2000, with then P&G CEO John Pepper and others, Bob started Cincinnati Reads to help students become better readers. The organization later merged with Winners Walk Tall, a charity formed to teach values to young people, and continues today as the Literacy Network, with over 1,600+ volunteers. Bob has been an active board member since 2013, and has recently focused on connecting the organization to students in Preschool Promise. 
- At his children’s high school, he was a volunteer varsity basketball coach. 
- Since 2011, he has been a volunteer assistant basketball coach at Withrow, teaching values along with basketball, bringing in speakers and arranging field trips. As a result of that experience, Bob started a charity with fellow Hyde Parker Dick Adams in 2015, called Champions for Urban Youth, which matches volunteers with public schools. That effort served as the foundation for his current pet project, HEAT (Holistically Empowering All Teens), which helps high school students peer-mentor positive choices. 

Community Leader
All the while, Bob held leadership roles in a number of organizations. He has served as the President or Chair of Cincinnatus Association, CCDS, HPCUMC and the church’s Endowment Committee, The City Club (formerly the Gyro Club), Princeton Club of Southern Ohio, Greater Cincinnati Nutrition Council (which he helped start) and the Taxation Section of Cincinnati Bar Association.
He has also served on the following:
- Since 2008, Advisory Board of Cincinnati Office of Cleveland Federal Reserve
- United Way Planning Board
- United Way Tocqueville Membership Committee (fund raising)
- Since 2012, Professional Advisory Board of Greater Cincinnati Foundation
- Since 2013, Program Committee of Cincinnati Rotary Club
- Since 2015, Health and Wellness Committee of Cincinnati Bar Association

Three generations of Buechner males: Brad, Winston, Bob and Robert Jr.
“Glass-Half-Full” Kind of Guy
These varied experiences have taught Bob a lot about people. “I’ve learned we are all basically the same,” he says, “even though our lives can look very different. We all have the same creator, and are all in this life to self-actualize, be happy and avoid suffering. I’ve found that, generally, people want the best for each other. We all love to laugh. We can add to each other’s lives. I’ve discovered that when I feel good about myself, when I feel happy and grateful, the world responds accordingly.”
Bob lives by the motto ‘Give the dog a good name.’ “That means try to encourage people; speak to their positive attributes. Compliment them, but motivate them as well. 
“I’m generally a ‘glass half full’ kind of guy. My parents were that way, especially my mother. I had great opportunities. I went to a wonderful high school that allowed me to attend an excellent college and law school; that education led to a rewarding career. I have a strong marriage and we have four wonderful children and an adorable grandchild. I have been blessed.”

Bob and daughter Julie fishing
Getting Outside His Comfort Zone
Many of his volunteering experiences have taken Bob outside his comfort zone, which has been enriching, he says. “It is fun and has value to stretch. I love interacting with vibrant teens, sharing their ups and downs. I see how much they benefit from encouragement. They react well to a caring adult who will engage them in conversation.” 
Bob has especially felt rewarded to share the joys of winning and the disappointments of losing. “I help kids perform and coaches coach at the highest level possible,” he notes. “It can be very challenging. Culturally, there can be issues we don’t understand unless we get involved. Like shootings: I never had to deal with that growing up. All in one weekend, one of our star guards was shot in the foot, which may end his career; a sophomore player’s father was murdered; and a graduating player’s brother was shot, taken to the hospital, then arrested when he was released. 
“But getting discouraged is part of what I expect. It is not the end; it is part of the process.” 

Bob and Angie celebrating their 41st wedding anniversary with daughter Leslie (far left) and son-in-law Justin (far right)
Learning from Setbacks
Setbacks are part of life, Bob says, and we can learn from them. “You have to figure out how to make the best of the circumstance. Rather than get beaten up by life’s challenges and difficulties, I try to use adversity to grow and develop. That’s part of what we signed up for when we decided to be born. 
“It is not easy to live with that attitude, but we need to strive for it. Otherwise we are always saying, ‘poor me,’ and that won’t get us anywhere.” 
Bob likes the story of the king who commissioned a wise person to come up with the four best words to live by. The sage came up with, ‘This, too, shall pass.’ 
“That is a good thing to remember,” Bob laughs. “Sometimes something keeps me up for nights in a row; a week later I can't remember what it was all about. You have to accept that life is not meant to be smooth and easy. You benefit from highs and lows; they lead you on a path to your best life possible.”
When hard times hit, Bob prays. He tries to remain grateful for what he has, and then make a plan for the best thing to do. 

A Great Hyde Park Life
“Hyde Park has been a great place to live,” says Bob, who has lived here since 1976, having grown up in Mt. Washington. “We go to church here, use the dry cleaner, eat at the restaurants. I spend a lot of time at the Cincinnati Country Club, either in the exercise room or on the links or in the dining room. We are fortunate to be able to afford to live here. You develop a certain loyalty over time. I’m grateful for all the pieces that are here.”
Bob and wife Angie’s four children are spread out: Julie is in Austin, TX; Leslie is in Brooklyn; Robert, Jr. is in Denver and James is in Virginia. But Bob doesn’t see leaving his hometown anytime soon. “People move to Florida or Arizona for retirement, but why do that when there are so many great people and things to do here?” he asks. 
Bob’s latest adventure is in cryptocurrency. With Michael Hiles and Stacey Strasser, he started Cincinnati Crypto Fund, LP, which has invested in a high-speed computerized trading platform. Since late 2018, it had reaped over 70% in returns as of May 31, 2019. 
This success has led Bob into an entirely new-to-him community-minded venture: he and others have set up an Opportunity Zone Fund, which allows individuals to reap tax benefits from buying property and investing in businesses in Opportunity Zones like Over-The-Rhine. 
Giving time, talent and treasure to better the community is natural for Bob. “I was raised that way, and it is a joy to live that way,” he says. “My stay-at-home mom and banker dad were constantly reminding us that part of being fortunate was giving back.” 

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