OBITUARY: Ervin Buba
Ervin Buba, left us too soon at the age of 61, in Houston, Texas, on June 24, 2023.
He was more than a loving husband, father, and friend; he was an adventurer always chasing the next challenge, a skeptic who none-the-less looked for wonder in the world, a life-long learner and true Renaissance Man. Ervin honed his skills in a dozen arenas ranging from the art of woodworking, to cooking, and sailing. He could fix anything and took pride in that fact. Ervin was always generous with his time, expertise, and kindness.
Born on Oct. 25, 1961, to Marie Konupcik née Moskalova and Ervin Buba in Český Těšín, Czech Republic. Ervin spent his childhood roaming with his older brother, Miro Buba. It was here acquired his lifelong love of the natural world and learned foraging from his mother and grandmother. He collected hazelnuts and mushrooms, and captured hedgehogs. Ervin shared fond memories of finding old WWII shells, and delighted in recounting the time they tossed one into a bonfire to discover if it was still live... IT WAS!
Ervin’s adventures had only begun. After escaping from Communist Czechoslovakia with his mother and brother at the age of 10, Ervin and his family spent 2 years in an Italian refugee camp. They arrived in the United States in 1973. They were sponsored, supported, and warmly received by the Czechoslovakian Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church when settling into Chicago, Illinois. He arrived in the USA, not speaking a word of English, but quickly made friends at West Suburban SDA School, Hinsdale SDA Jr. Academy, and Broadview Academy (Class of 1980).
Ervin earned his Bachelors of Arts degree from Andrews University in 1984. It was at Andrews, in 1980, that he met the love of his life and his wife of 40 years, Janette Peñaloza Buba. Their union stood as a testament to their shared resolve, resilience, and respect for one another. These three pillars supported a lifetime of love. Their partnership was a joint exploration of life’s many crests and valleys.
Ervin and Janette had two daughters, Gabriella Alexis and Olivia Nicole, who will always be Daddy’s girls. Ervin instilled in them his love of the outdoors and backpacking adventures through “Daddy Daughter Danger Trips” all across the world from Banff Canada to Bergen Norway – to some of the most breathtaking national parks in the USA: Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, Red River New Mexico, and the Boundary Waters. Ervin raised “tough girls” who learned how to change their own tires, lay tile, garden, and cook delicious food but who knew they could always call home for help diagnosing any of adult life’s many problems from a weird car noise, to a runny sourdough starter, or seasoning the perfect cup of chai.
In his professional life, Ervin forged a diverse career path owning and running several businesses. These included a carpentry workshop in Berrien Springs, Michigan and a Wood Import Business that would take him to Jakarta to source Indonesian lumber. Finally he established and happily co-owned a Commercial Supply Business procuring quality materials from South Korea and China called ENJ Supplies, which stood for ‘Ervin and Janette Supplies’.
The bulk of his professional career was with Stuart Dean Company, Inc., an architectural restoration company. Ervin started with Stuart Dean in Chicago, then moved to Boston, and ended his career as the General Manager of the Texas Division for his last 14 of 25 years with the company.
At the age of 50 he decided it was time to enjoy life free from the shackles of the corporate world. Retiring early, Ervin left his ranch in Texas for the French Alps. He’d had enough of 10 hour road trips just to escape “scenically challenged” Texas (a term he coined).
Far from a laid-back retirement, Ervin embarked on some of the greatest adventures of his life. He took up sailing, including a transatlantic voyage in a 50 ft. catamaran. He visited dozens of countries, in “Patrick” a van that was outfitted to be a stealth camper car. He and Janette drove the coastal routes of Corsica and Sardinia and all over Europe, enjoying wild camping. He was the only one in the family who completed the Tour Du Mont Blanc, with support from Janette, Gabriella, Robert, and Sheng, passing through parts of Switzerland, Italy and France. His total route was 180 kilometers (112 mi), with 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) of ascent and descent. Additionally, he peaked 15 mountains that surround Grenoble, France. Everywhere he went he’d tracked down morels and indigo cap mushrooms, feasted on the finest international culinary delicacies and perfected his homemade sourdough rye bread. Finally, Ervin’s magnum opus was the petite maison in La Mure d’Isere, which he single-handedly renovated; preparing a beautiful retirement home in the French Alps. In short, he relished every moment.
Ervin’s courage, wisdom, endless patience, grace, and strength were evident in his final battle with Advanced Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma with Liver Metastasis. These virtues permeated his entire life. Ervin always chose quality over quantity. He decided to forgo treatment, due to the cancer’s late stage. He opted to embrace family in the time he had left, traveling back to the USA to see his youngest sister, Yvette, get married in Dallas, and stay together with his wife and daughters in Gabriella’s family home in Houston. In his final days, he treasured time spent with loved ones and good food. His resilience and fearlessness remains a beacon of hope to all who knew him and were touched by his kindness and resolve.
His departure has cast a shadow over the hearts of his family and friends, yet amidst the sorrow, his vibrant spirit lives on. His legacy continues to inspire, teach, and heal.
Ervin is survived by his cherished wife, Janette Peñaloza Buba, his eldest daughter, Gabriella Alexis Buba and son-in-law, Robert Daniel Johnson, and his youngest daughter Olivia Nicole Buba and son-in-law, Sheng Huang. He is also survived by his precious mother Marie Konupcik and her husband, Vlastimil Konupcik, his dear brothers, Miro Buba and Daniel Konupcik and his beloved sisters Ellen Konupcik Sammer and Yvette Konupcik.
A Celebration of Life service for Ervin is planned on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023 at the McGovern Centennial Gardens in Houston at 1:30 pm CST. A second Memorial Service will take place in France at a later date (Specifics TBD).
Ervin Buba, a man of no regrets, leaves behind a towering legacy that touched family and friends all around the world with his humor, zest for life, and generosity, a life that will continue to be celebrated and live on through those who knew him.