Buford Pusser – Biography, Wife and Children, Death and Funeral

Perhaps one of the toughest jobs one can ever think of doing will be the job of having the responsibility of keeping out, putting down and bringing in the bad guys in the society to face the law. It is a risky job in that one’s life is constantly at risk whether out there in the field or back at home with one’s family. It is only the bravest of men who take up this noble responsibility, often times paying huge sacrifices for their career choice. Buford Pusser is one man who aptly fits into this class of men. Read more…

Buford Pusser – Biography

Buford Pusser was an American Sheriff who born on the 12th of December 1937 in Finger, McNairy County, Tennessee, to Helen and Carl Pusser. He grew into a tall fine young man with a good body frame which influenced his choice of playing basketball and football while in high school.

After high school, he enlisted at the US Marine Corps as he hoped to pass the recruitment training and serve as a Marine Corp. However, it was discovered that Buford had asthma which made him medically unfit for the rigors of the job. Pusser then opted to pursue wrestling as a career. He began wrestling in Chicago in 1957 under the ring name “Buford The Bull.” He wrestled for a while before he returned to Tennessee in 1962.

On his return, he joined the police (taking after his father who was the police chief of Adamsville, Tennessee) and served as Adamsville’s police chief and constable till 1964. Pusser got elected the sheriff of McNairy County, Tennessee when the serving sheriff James Dickey died bizarrely in an auto crash. In his new office, Buford Pusser had the main focus of fighting and eliminating the Dixie Mafia and the State Line Mob which were both involved in crimes ranging from moonshining, gambling, prostitution, human, drug and arms trafficking as well as several other vices. It was in the discharge of this duty that Pusser emerged the hero we remember him for today.

As he put the bad guys out of their illegal businesses, they in retaliation made several assassination attempts against him which he kept on surviving. Buford Pusser took the fight to the bad guys but they kept on failing to put him out of the way, his family became soft targets to get at him. An assassination ambush which was targetted at him ended up taking the life of his wife Pauline Pusser on August 12, 1967.

He was en route to respond to a distress call from New Hope Road in McNairy County, with his wife in the car with him. When they passed New Hope Methodist Church, a car pulled up beside theirs and the occupant opened fire on the unsuspecting Pusser and his wife. They both sustained injuries from the assault but while Buford survived, his wife died. Despite all his efforts to bring the suspects/perpetrators of the crime to book with proof of guilt, no one was actually sentenced for the murder.

Wife and Children

Buford Hayse Pusser met his wife, Pauline Mullins while he was a local wrestler in Chicago. The two got married on the 5th of December 1969 and in the course of their marriage, they became parents to Dwana Pusser who was born on the 9th of January 1961 in Chicago.

Dwana Pusser
Dwana Pusser (image source)

Sadly, Dwana is no more but while she lived, she did all she could do to keep the legacy of her father alive as well as maintain his image as a sheriff who was tough on crime. Dwana was reportedly found dead in her room on Thursday 8th March 2018. Before her death, she was believed to be battling with a lot of personal problems. No autopsy was however conducted after her body was discovered.

Buford Pusser’s Death and Funeral

For someone who survived several assassination attempts, it seemed at the time that Buford Pusser was indestructible. However, death came when no one expected. The sheriff died on the 12th of August 1974 following injuries he sustained with his car in an accident.

Earlier that day, he finished a meeting with Bing Crosby for talks about his starring in the sequel of his biographical film Walking Tall and as he drove home, he hit an embankment which caused him to lose control of his car because he was speeding. Buford was thrown out of the car and he sustained several injuries from the accident which caused his death, while his car went ablaze.

When his mother – Helen and his daughter Dwana arrived at the scene, they were of the opinion that Bufford Pusser was murdered and the locals also termed his death a sabotage. Also, no autopsy was conducted. Bufford’s funeral services held at the Adamsville Church of Christ.

See Also: What We Know So Far About Amber Guyger and Why She Shot Botham Jean

After his death, his home was turned into a museum called The Buford Pusser Home and Museum. It contains the original furnishings Buford and his family used in the home, photos, guns, cars, and memorabilia of the Pusser’s.

Similarly, the biopic Walking Tall which tells about his life and sad death came out in 1973. Though the film had some fictions introduced in telling the story of the dead sheriff, it turned out to be a success. A remake of the film which starred Dwayne Johnson as Chris Vaughn was released in 2004, three years later, Walking Tall: The Payback (2007) came out with the main character – Kevin Sorbo acting as Nick Prescott. Kevin also starred in the follow up titled Walking Tall: Lone Justice (2007).


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