John Buzbee, a Foreign Service officer who served across the Middle East, including two stints in Iraq after the 2003 U.S. invasion, died Sept. 15 at his home in Washington. He was 50. He was the son of former Publisher of the Hutchinson News, Dick Buzbee and wife, Marie.
Mr. Buzbee served in Iraq during the effort to rebuild the nation after the ouster of Saddam Hussein — first in Tikrit, under the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2004, and later as a political officer in Baghdad in 2008 and 2009.
Mr. Buzbee started his career as a newspaper reporter, working at the Kansas City Star and the now-defunct Outlook in Santa Monica, Calif. A fascination with the Middle East prompted him to change careers.
Mr. Buzbee served as a political officer and vice consul in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; an economic officer in both Cairo and Jerusalem; and a cultural affairs officer in Cairo.
In later years, he served in Washington at the State Department as deputy director for Syria in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs; as a senior adviser in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs; as a researcher at the Foreign Service Institute; and as an adviser in the office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs.
He also worked on Balkan issues in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs as the deputy director for South Central Europe.
John Richard Buzbee was born in Olathe, Kan., on April 15, 1966. He spent his high school years in Hutchinson, Kan., where his father was editor and publisher of a newspaper. He was a 1989 political science and journalism graduate of the University of Kansas.
Survivors include his wife of 27 years, Sally Streff Buzbee, and their two daughters, Emma and Margaret, all of Washington; his parents, Richard and Marie Buzbee of Hutchinson; and two brothers. Another daughter, Anne Marie Buzbee, died in infancy in 1998.