Family history is important to Delbert Buller, who has seen his family go through difficult times.

Family history is important to Delbert Buller, who has seen his family go through difficult times.

Buller treasures his collection of family letters, papers, documents, and records detailing their school years, marriages, work and everyday life. Much of his family's history has been pieced together from a box of papers found at his grandfather's estate sale, including envelopes that contained his father's love letters to his mother.

"I guess I'm just fortunate," Buller said.

He is especially fascinated with the tragically short life of his uncle, Lester Lu Redger.

Redger was born into a Mennonite family in Tampa on March 4, 1931, and attended school in Marion County.

"I found his grade school diploma," Buller said. "Lester just had an eighth grade education. When he came of age, he went to Wichita to get a job."

Buller doesn't know what his uncle did for work in Wichita after leaving the family farm, but he knows that was the place where Redger's life took a major turn.

"He was baptized in 1945, so he was a Christian in the Mennonite faith for five years. He probably went to church for six months to a year before he moved to Wichita and associated with what we call worldly people, non-Christians," Buller said. "That's when he lost his Mennonite faith and joined the Army, when he was 18."

The decision to fight in the military was a shock to Redger's family. With an aptitude for fixing machines, he worked during the Korean War in Japan as a mechanic at the Yokohama Engineering Depot.

"He never did see any action or anything, because he was a jeep mechanic," Buller said.

During his service, Redger received an Army of Occupation Medal, the Korean Service Medal and the United Nations Service Medal.

After three years in the Army, Redger received an honorable discharge in November of 1952.

"I knew Lester," Buller recalled. "We were living 10 miles north of Durham. Mom got the farm in 1952 from Grandpa Redger."

Buller remembers looking out the window and seeing Redger, riding a horse, coming to visit his mother, Kadie Buller.

Unfortunately, a car accident claimed the life of Redger just a few short months after his return home from Japan. He had begun working in Wichita for the Missouri Pacific railroad along with a friend, Harvey Morrison. As the two men were driving together from Wichita to Tampa, a blown tire caused the car to overturn. The crash left Morrison uninjured but claimed the life of Redger. He died on Jan. 24, 1953, at the age of 21.

Redger's sister, Kadie, married Buller's father, Raymond Buller, who was a conscientious objector during World War II and worked with the Civilian Public Service in Colorado Springs, Colorado and Terry, Montana.

"Some were smoke jumpers and some made roads, but dad was a mechanic," Buller recalled. "Dad had to serve over four years."

Following in the footsteps of his father, Buller's life also included being drafted into military service.

"It was a lottery in the Vietnam War for me," Buller said. "I got me a job in the Presbyterian Hospital in downtown Denver."

Buller worked one year in the kitchen, washing dishes, proving himself and being promoted to storeroom manager.

"I checked in all the food for the hospital, plus they had a 20-story nursing home right next to us, I checked in some food for that," Buller said. "My pay was $2.12 per hour."