RIP Raymond Buse III: “Cincinnati’s Best Friend” and Creative Champion

It is with great sadness that I write this post. Raymond “Buz” Buse III died early yesterday morning at the age of 57. Both the Business Courier and Enquirer have covered his death. Buz was a consummate PR professional and an incomparable champion of Cincinnati. He spent 17 years as vice president of public relations for the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. His career accomplishments are many, too many really to list but know this: when you see thousands of people at Oktoberfest Zinzinnati doing the World’s Largest Chicken Dance, that’s Buz. He was an indefatigable defender of the Queen City. When the city would take a barb, he was the first to cheerfully jab back. Hence, “Blitz Jay Leno Day” to combat Leno’s Bengals bashing. Or, when many were gloomily dreading the five-year anniversary of the 2001 riots, Buz created the Downtown Hop Around  “to celebrate Downtown’s recovery five years after three days of rioting damaged the city’s image.”  It was Buz who spearheaded the effort to bring VH1’s Top 20 Countdown to Cincinnati. He did not seek recognition, but his passion was too intense to miss. He was honored with PR Week’s 2007 PR Professional of the Year award, the nation’s most prestigious public relations award.

Raymond "Buz" Buse III

I never had the pleasure of meeting Buz in real life but have, like so many others, been touched by his personal generosity and professional advice. At times, we would communicate multiple times a day. He was a great sounding board who was full of ideas and never let reality stand in the way of his imagination. In fact, his imagination changed our reality. His twitter stream (@prbuz) was widely followed and always interesting. And though Buz will be rightfully remembered for his extraordinary career accomplishments, his selfless networking and promotion of fresh ideas will be most sorely missed. Buz always had a kind thing to say and never let a good idea go to waste, no matter its origin. Friends have said Buz was “Cincinnati’s Best Friend.” Like a true best friend, Buz expressed his philia for Cincinnati and Cincinnatians exactly as Aristotle defined it: “wanting for someone what one thinks good, for his sake and not for one’s own, and being inclined, so far as one can, to do such things for him.” I think of Buz whenever I read my favorite quote: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”

VH1 Top 20 Countdown came to Cincinnati thanks to Buz

Laura Baverman at the Enquirer reports:

When others thought it couldn’t be done, Buse did it anyway, said longtime friend and Mount Adams resident Mary Armor.

“His hobby was promoting the city.”

Buse was also an avid supporter of the region’s young professionals and entrepreneurs, said Over-the-Rhine businessman Ran Mullins. Mullins hired the PR guru in 2008 to join his firm Metaphor as senior vice president of creative intelligence.

“He catalyzed scores of young creative Cincinnatians with their projects either directly or through his influence in the media and at the Chamber,” Mullins said. “Oftentimes the individuals didn’t know how their ideas were elevated so quickly. It was Buz behind the curtain, acting as their creative champion.”

Buz Buse, via

He was in many ways Wordsworth’s “happy warrior.” He was someone I looked up to. He was the subject of an OTRview that will never be published. He was the author of a book that will never be written (he recently retired to write a book about Cincinnati and his decades in public relations).

But good old Buz might have one last trick up his sleeve, Lucy May at the Business Courier writes:

The last big idea he told me about is still in the works. He swore me to secrecy months ago, and I’m not telling now.

But trust me, Cincinnati, it’s big and it’s bold and it’s innovative. In short, it’s 100 percent Buz Buse.

I’m not sure how much credit he’ll get once it’s finally unveiled. I know he didn’t want much. But I’m confident he’ll look down on that news conference and smile.

And if we as a region can pull off this one last big Buz Buse idea, the rest of the country might just smile back.

The comments left on the Business Courier article show some of the myriad ways Buz helped others:

Like his well-known father who passed away last year, Buz “envisioned barrels of opportunity when others saw empty promise.”

RIP Raymond “Buz” Buse III

2 Responses to “RIP Raymond Buse III: “Cincinnati’s Best Friend” and Creative Champion”
  1. Ran Mullins says:

    Buz really set the creative example for follow-on generations. His career was an exceptionally crafted love story with Cincinnati at the center.

    Buz was a consummate professional in his craft, knowing the ins-and-outs of the public relations business and its politics. Oftentimes turning them all upside down with an idea no one would believe would work until it did.

    Thank goodness winning the ‘Oscar of the PR World’ did’t spoil his innovation, but instead accelerated it. Buz helped me forward so many ideas in Cincinnati against the prevailing wisdom. I so enjoyed working with him on bringing VH1 to Cincinnati, the Downtown HopAround events, our own Liberate Domains software launch and the “All Roads Lead to Cincinnati” project. Once he joined Metaphor as

    Thank you Buz, for being an inspirational leader carrying the flag of Cincinnati out to the world. You will be sorely missed and never forgotten by those lives you touched.

    Today won’t be the day I remember, nor his birthday, but every year on groundhog day I’ll hear the name Punxutawney Phil and I’ll smile thinking of Buz and his love for great PR.”

  2. I had the great pleasure to work with Buzz at the Chamber. What a guy! A true believer in the possibility of Cincinnati. I am sad to learn of his death and express sincere condolences to his family.

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