Doris' Guest Book

So many people have wonderful stories to tell about Doris' life and impact—please share yours here. You can either write it in the message box or tape a short video and upload it. Once published, it will be available on this website for everyone to read and view. Your stories and reflections mean so much to Doris' family and friends. Thank you!

  • Ah, Doris! I learned so much from you as your Sunshine Lady Foundation employee/ambassador to the youth of Brunswick Co. NC -- your scholarships and summer camp experiences changed lives. Then, as you established the Women's Independence Scholarship Program (WISP) for survivors of domestic violence - headquartered in Wilmington NC. Through that program, you have helped hundreds of women and their children move beyond abuse. Your impact has the ripple effect and makes a difference in generation after generation. One of the greatest lessons you taught me -- which I use to this day -- is "Ask the next question!"

    You were a cherished friend. My gratitude for sharing some time and good deeds with you is deep and timeless. Thank you.

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    — Linda Lytvinenko
    Friend and former employee

  • When Doris lived in Fredericksburg, we occupied the lower level of her home. She referred to us as the Boys in the Basement, I tried to convince her that it would be more appropriate to refer to us as the Lads of the Lower Level. I'm not sure if she ever changed her description of us. We were all retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, so I think she felt safe having us around. I had many conversations with Doris, and I enjoyed them all as did my associates Nick and Dave.

    Doris was a remarkable person, always giving of her time to worthwhile projects. I will miss her, but she left excellent memories to remember her by, we should all be so fortunate.

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    — Michael Ferrence
    Friend from Fredericksburg

  • Reading about Doris Buffett’s call for volunteers in the Boston Globe in August 2016 was the energy of the universe offering me a way to give back and get involved. My fiancé had died a month before (pancreatic cancer) and I needed focus, so I hand wrote a 5 page letter explaining my background. When I was contacted and offered a Researcher role, I was thrilled. Life was changing and volunteering for the Letters Foundation was a piece of the forward movement.
    At the first annual gathering on Newbury Street (once I found the right door and climbed two flights of stairs) I was so happy to meet a talented, dedicated group, including Tevis and Liz, and Leah, and Tyra, who shook my hand so hard, I felt her determination and energy squeeze through me. It was painful, and wonderful.
    In a focus group we talked about getting organized and considering a database to help the Researchers streamline the process and avoid duplication of effort. It didn’t take long for Liz to ask me to take the lead to help populate the newly designed database. A lot of us worked on it, and relied on it, and maintained it. I believe it became an effective tool. It was great to meet Ann and Cheryl, co-volunteer Researchers. They helped me make sense of the organizational structure and how the Researchers and Database Divers fit into the picture.
    The Letters Foundation, with Amy Kingman leading the team, and Doris’ energy and mission guiding the purpose and meaning, provided a unique, personal “hand up,” helping families in a way no other philanthropy or charity works, that I know of. I never met Doris, but I talked to Alex and Mimi when I didn’t know who they were, and thought they were just really great volunteers, like the rest of us!
    It’s the vision of people helping people, and being valued as a volunteer in a very personal, caring way. I’m so proud to have been welcomed into this exceptional, giving group. So pleased that I could help in Doris’ work. So sad to lose her, she was a spark and a role model for being your best, genuine self. I'm sorry to see the Foundation sunset, and grateful to have met you all and participated in the giving, and please call if I can help in any way.

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    — Allison Sloan
    Volunteer Researcher & Database Diver for the Letters Foundation

  • Doris Buffet was an absolute gem. I met her in 2007 when I was a student in the first-ever philanthropy class at Tufts. She had funded the class through the Sunshine Lady Foundation; we were an early pilot for what became the Learning by Giving Foundation. I was entranced by her. She was smart, sassy, empathetic, and passionate. She spoke with us like we were peers, but also shared what she had learned. She inspired me to go into the philanthropy sector and to develop research on youth philanthropy!YouthGiving.org was inspired in many ways by what she helped to create.I have a quote from her framed on my desk that reads: "Doing something for someone else brings you so much joy and you meet wonderful people." Her legacy shines bright.

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    — Jen Bokoff
    LxG student alumni

  • Thank you to everyone for a wonderful Memorial on August 4, 2021 to a remarkable lady, Doris Buffet, whom I met at Carol Achterhof's in Maine to celebrate July 4. Doris and I had many happy moments. This lovely lady left us too soon and will be sorely missed. Thank you, Doris, for the memories. Fondly, Renee Hutcheon

    — Renee Hutcheon
    Acquaintance in Maine

  • It was about 2015 when I read an article in the Boston Globe, in short, Doris Buffett was looking for a few volunteers to help with her Foundation goals. I wrote a one page letter about my past volunteer experience and sent it in. Maybe a month or more later I received an email from the Foundation. I was shocked but happy to have received a response. Next thing I knew I was chosen to help. Surprised and humbled, I agreed to participate.
    I met the Letters Foundation Family, including Alex & Mimi, Noni, Amy, Tevis and many more caring staff. The hours of discussions, problem solving, seamlessly working as a team, celebrating milestones, and recognizing the challenges people endured will always be a motivation for me to continue to volunteer.
    I am always willing to volunteer and if the Foundation needs one, I will always make time and would be delighted to work towards fulfilling Doris' vision.
    Thank you
    Ilda Montoya

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    — Ilda Montoya
    I as a volunteer for Doris' Letters Foundation

  • As a country,we must do better for our young and our old,our medically fragile,and simply the lost souls who are invisible in the everyday world. You chipped away at that population,and allowed us to help you. Such a gift.
    Your learning through giving program will enable that philosophy to carry on for generations.
    Well done,sweet Doris.🌞
    Nell

    — Nell Keif
    Boston Letter Reader

  • I am so fortunate to have had Doris in my life! Whenever she was in Fredericksburg I would see her several times a week at her home. Her jokes and laughter always made me laugh. It was a privilege every time I was in her company.

    I have so many Doris Buffett stories and one that stands out was when I went to visit her and she said ," Fred how would you like to go to Sing Sing with me?"
    Doris had educational programs for male and female inmates and invited me on several. I have 34 years of sobriety from substance abuse. Doris and I would talk about recovery. I helped her in our community with ,"giving a hand up not a hand out" as she would often say. I will continue to keep her dreams and mission alive in Fredericksburg. While always keeping in mind her laughter and undaunting INTEGRITY! Unconditional Love Fred

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    — Fred L Jerman
    Friend from Fredericksburg, VA 22401

  • Doris’s spirit and love lives on in her grandson Alex ,his wife Mimi and their children Luna ,Remy and Atlas…..

    — Sarah hudson krueger
    My daughter Mimi is married to her grandson Alex

  • What a wonderful celebration of the life of a remarkable woman! She has inspired me to remember to pay it forward whenever I can, no matter how small. Thank you, Doris, for all you did for others and your legacy will live on.

    — Linda Dispensa
    none

  • Learning by Giving has generously funded a class that I teach at Northern Kentucky University. After many years of teaching the first-year writing course at our university, I have experienced first-hand a basic truth: Students learn to write effectively when they are invited to write something important, and nothing is more important than contributing positively to the lives of others. Students in Learning by Giving classes learn about community needs and non-profit organizations that are addressing those needs. By providing funds to students and then asking the students to invest those funds in their communities, Learning by Giving encourages young people to become stewards of their communities. I am thankful to Doris Buffett and Learning by Giving for supporting our mission to teach our students in the context of community engagement.

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    — Jonathan S. Cullick
    Learning by Giving Faculty

  • I'm so fortunate to have gotten to know her and her family. I will always cherish our time together and I will certainly implement her teachings and wisdom.

    The world is a better place because of Doris!

    — Jeffrey Piermont
    Friend

  • — Poesy and Caroline

  • I guess you could say it started with a frittata. I mean, after we met through a friend of a friend, she interviewed me for the job helping her daughter, Robin, months earlier, but it was Doris’ birthday on February 12, 2011 that changed our relationship. I couldn’t imagine what I could possibly buy that would be good enough for someone who probably had everything they needed, or could buy anything they wanted, but the one thing I could offer is something home cooked.

    I didn’t know at the time that she didn’t like to cook, and in fact, as she was renovating her 1776 Virginia House, she didn’t even want a kitchen put in because she didn’t want to have to cook. She gave in and allowed a small modest blue kitchen with lots of light and a big window overlooking the courtyard, and just beyond, the Rappahannock River. It had white trim, white appliances and yellow touches, which I came to think of as her signature colors, and to this day remind me of her.

    Over the years, I came to love that kitchen, and cooked many meals for her there. She raved about everything I made. She was always so encouraging, telling me I was an excellent cook and could open my own restaurant. This particular Sunday morning, I made a sausage, egg, and cheese frittata at my house, sliced it while it was warm, and nervously knocked on her front door. It was an awkwardly long amount of time before she opened, and if I had not heard her talking on the way to the door, I probably would have left.

    She opened the door in her white flannel nightgown, with a puffy white hairnet on her head and said “I see someone is going to have to show you how to use the code to let yourself in”. I nervously said “I made you a birthday frittata” to which she almost squealed and replied “Now you’re talkin’”. She took it from my hands and held the door open with her hip for me to follow her in. We went to the kitchen where we spent the next three hours chatting while she ate two pieces, proclaiming it “the best she’s ever had”.

    I can’t remember all we talked about that day, but after my initial trepidation that comes with knocking on a famous person’s door, I never again felt uneasy around her and we were never at a loss for words when we were together. I was welcome to pop in any time I wanted, and she was always happy to see me. I soon found out that Doris was easy and fun to buy for, and it didn’t have to be fancy or expensive. She had a wicked sense of humor and enjoyed a good card or any silly little thing that made her laugh. I used to bring her holiday meals and goodies, a plate of whatever we were having, or just stop by to see if she needed anything. She always appreciated everything and we would sit and talk for hours.

    Someone did show me how to use the door code, not her though because she struggled with it herself. Since she rarely carried keys or a purse, and definitely not a cell phone, when she couldn’t figure out the temperamental code, she would knock on the basement window, calling “yoo-hoo” to try and catch the attention of Mike, Dave or Nick, the FBI guys who rented her basement for their office, and wave at them to let her in. If no one was there and on more than one occasion, she’d go over to the Courtyard by Marriott, which she lived catty corner from and they would put her in a hotel room for the night. We’d go back over the next day to pay but they would never take her money telling her how much they loved her and thanked her for all that she’d done for the community.

    Years ago, we were meeting their favorite person on earth, Robin’s son Alexander, and his wife Mimi, in Washington DC for a tour of the FBI academy. She drove, and Robin called out “Shotgun!” so I rode in the backseat. I cringed as the car sped up I-95 at 85 miles an hour, and thought for sure we were going to die when she took both hands off the wheel to mimic the 1st line of defense to protect the President (arms straight out to the side to take a bullet), and the 2nd line of defense (pretending to hold a shotgun). Then, without putting her hands back on the wheel, she realized she had it backwards and proceeded to show the opposite way, changing the gun position to #1 and the taking the bullet #2. As we got closer to our destination, I felt some relief and thought we might actually make it there alive. She was navigating the confusing streets of DC expertly, with a great memory from the time she lived there a long time ago, but I was worried about the pedestrian traffic. This is when Robin chose to share several pictures on her cell phone with her mom, who leaned over and closely examined each one, pointing to people and places and asking about them, not looking up to check the road for what seemed like an eternity. Heading to the car on the way home, I called “Driver!” saying how much I loved her car. Thankfully, she let me drive from that day forward.

    I remember once we were going to Tyson’s Corner in McLean, Virginia to do some shopping. I used to work in Northern Virginia years ago but the roads had changed so much, I couldn’t remember how to use a back way to get from Tysons to Tysons Galleria and I missed the turn and circled the whole thing 3 times! I was so embarrassed, but even as we repeatedly drove through a semi vacant construction area, she just laughed and said “It’s like an adventure!” Doris was always up for any kind of adventure, she didn’t get upset when everything didn’t go just right, and always took delight in the little things in life.

    One time she invited us to tag along on the private NetJet to New York City for the day for her to be honored. After it was over she said we must go to Serendipity to get Frozen Hot Chocolate. I learned that any form of chocolate was always welcome and I loved that she often ordered dessert first. Life is short after all. Her response when I thanked her for that unforgettable trip to New York, was “You know the way I feel about it is, I get to do a lot of things, I may as well fill the plane!” That’s how she showed love, rather than buying stuff, she shared experiences that made lifelong memories.

    The first time she invited me to go along to “the best adventure I can share”, the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting, we were going into Borsheims, a high end jewelry store, and she turned to us and gave us both a crisp $100 bill because “it’s no fun if you can’t buy something”. I bought a beautiful pair of earrings that I still wear nearly every day.

    In March of 2014, I started working a few days a week covering for her assistant who went part time. We spent our days alternating between working on projects, talking and laughing together, planning, going through letters that came in the mail and talking about how she could help people. Even taking her to doctors appointments turned into a fun outing. Doris liked to make each day count. She always had a list going and we would start every day by updating it and adding more. We always felt great at the end of the day when we got so much done. She loved that I was a professional organizer and had me organize every closet, cabinet and drawer in her house and overhaul her filing system. I also cooked for her, decorated for holidays, planned outings and gatherings, kept her company and anything else she needed or wanted. I enjoyed taking care of her because she was always doing so much for others.

    I could tell Doris anything, we had so much fun together, and we giggled like school girls. She was my friend, and I never felt like there was 40 years between us, except when she gave me advice that I’m sure made my mom smile down from heaven above.

    At one point, we were talking about my long-time love, Rick. She really liked Rick and his sense of humor but when she found out that we were living together, in a very committed relationship, but not married, she told me I was “a letter waiting to happen”. From her many years of experience, she had seen a lot of stuff. She had no problem giving advice when she thought you needed to hear it. She told me that Rick and I needed to go get our wills done and that she would pay for it. She gave us the name of her lawyer and set up an appointment. We knew she was right, we had talked about it before, but just never got around to it. When the lawyer gave us a bill for $700, Rick and I agreed that we couldn't let her pay for it. I told her how much I appreciated the advice, and the offer to pay, but Rick would not allow it. She always admired him for that, and we always appreciated the guidance.

    Doris and Rick had a great friendship. We’d gone on many outings that included Rick, she had gotten to know him well and they really enjoyed each other’s company. She had been to our house many times, once for a backyard Low Country Boil with Robin, Alex, Mimi and Mac Dog. I admired her willingness to jump right in, getting her fingers messy and enjoying, like all of us, Mimi demonstrating the best way to eat shrimp, with a perfect order of butter, lemon, cocktail sauce and Old Bay.

    When Rick proposed a couple of years later, Doris was the first person I called. She was thrilled for us and I thanked her for her influence and support in our lives. The next time I was at her house, I was showing her my engagement ring and telling her the story behind it. It belonged to my mother and I wore it on my right hand. I shared how Rick removed it and slid it on my ring finger. It was something he knew I wanted because I never wore a lot of jewelry and my mom’s ring meant so much to me. It was very touching and romantic. She and I were sitting on the side of the bed, her holding my hand, admiring my ring and then said “wait here”. She went to her room, and came back with a small box and handed it to me. I opened it to find a beautiful delicate diamond eternity band. She said “This belonged to my grandmother, and I want you to have it”. I was speechless and tears welled up in my eyes. She asked if I liked it, and as the tears overflowed, and ran down my cheeks, I told her I love it. She said “It’s settled then”, and as we hugged and I thanked her, I had an overwhelming sense of my mom’s presence. I love that the two rings I proudly wear on my finger, and close to my heart, are from the most special women I have ever known.
    A few months later, after racking our brains trying to figure out a place to be married that wasn’t too “wedding-ish”, Rick and I decided to have a spontaneous backyard BBQ and surprise our friends and family by getting married. We’re pretty low key and we live in a very small house. Our big backyard is where we do most of our entertaining during the warmer months. It’s our favorite place on earth and with our dogs there too, it just seemed like the perfect informal place for us to be formally united. Unfortunately, Doris had been in Maine for the summer and we’d played phone tag several times but since she never checked voicemail, we hadn’t been able to catch up.

    A couple of Doris sayings (that many of us still use today) are when talking about something she was interested in knowing more about, she would say “Use your Google Machine”. She also used to say “Just because you have a phone, and they have a finger, doesn’t mean you have to answer”. I thought of that last one as I was just about to enter the backyard to reveal the big surprise, when the phone rang. And then I saw it was her calling. Surely it was bad timing as I was ready to ‘walk down the aisle’ so to speak, but how could I not answer to tell my good friend, who had played such a pivotal role in our lives, what was about to happen?!

    I answered and quickly started rattling off “Dodo! You’re not going to believe this, but we’re having a surprise wedding ceremony in our backyard! I’ve been trying to reach you, I wish you were here! All of our family and friends are waiting for me to walk out for the big moment!” I was talking fast and not listening when I realized she was talking too. I heard her saying “... the number for the nice lady who works at the domestic violence place?” I went on talking just as quickly, explaining that I couldn’t talk, when I realized she was still talking too. “....she has long brown hair”. I laughed to myself knowing that the Judge, a good friend of Rick’s, had already walked out and our guests knew at that point that someone was about to be married. I had to quickly wrap it up by telling her “yes, that’s Kathy Anderson, I have her number, but I’ve got to run, I’m getting married!”. She got it at the last second, and said “Oh! Go! Call me later!” She most fittingly ended up being there with me on my special day after all, and it was one of my favorite memories of the day. Every time we thought back on that conversation we would get so tickled.

    I could go on forever about Doris Eleanor Buffett and would never do justice to the most amazing, inspiring, caring, genuine, thoughtful, giving, funny, hoot of a human being that she was. I learned so much from her during our time together, and with her in mind, I consciously live my life trying to help others, give to those less fortunate than myself, and to make a difference, even if on a much smaller scale than she.

    What a beautiful person inside and out, and such an amazing life well spent. I’m so happy she was able to spend her last few years close to her family, and that she had the chance to enjoy her two great-granddaughters, whom she adored, as they adored their Dodo.

    I’m so blessed to have known her, and looking back I hope I made half as much of a difference in her and her family’s lives, as she did in mine. I’m so glad I decided on the frittata as her birthday present! Though I miss her everyday and she may be gone from this earth, she lives on in my heart and memories. I know she is watching over me now, and I look forward to when I will see her again one day.

    I truly believe she is also guardian angel to her daughter Robin, grandson Alex and wife Mimi, their children, Luna River, Remy Rain, and her new great-grandson whom she never got to meet, but will always be watching over, Atlas Rhodes. As well as the many people whose lives she touched, because well, she’s Doris, and she’s not going to just sit up there and do nothing all day!

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    — Linda Martin

  • Have you ever reached a point in your life where you were...done? Exhausted? Ready to quit? You needed help, a break from what you were doing but you also knew in your heart that your work was divinely driven and you couldn’t stop. You were helping too many people to simply walk away?

    That was me, just a few years ago. Pre Doris. I was severely burned at age nine in a natural gas explosion
    at my grandparent's home.

    Everything was destroyed. I was left with scars over 1/2 my body and face. As a woman, I didn't want to waste my pain of surviving this world with disfiguring scars. I wanted to do all I could to prevent other adolescent girls and young women from falling into the abyss of low self-esteem leading to poor life choices as a result of how they looked.

    So, I created and launched Angel Faces, a national nonprofit focusing on this very mission. www.angelfaces.com. I led the charge of this small but mighty organization with 98% volunteers, and two staff members.

    After decades of this hard and ‘heart ‘work, I was on the verge of burnout. I couldn't bear to yet again plan another fundraising dinner or event as I was still washing the tears off my blouse from the girls whose hearts I had carried that day. Consumed in daily operations while helping the girls who survived traumatic events led me to a place where I really thought about giving it all up. I was beyond exhaustion. I needed funding. I needed a donor who valued our work but didn’t care if their name was in lights, they just wanted to support us.

    At the brink of my decision making I received a clipping in my snail mail (not a link, strangely so organic) of the Boston Globe article about Doris and the Letters Foundation.

    One of my volunteers from Boston apparently saw my exhaustion and knew what I needed was a funding source to shine the light on my darkest hour. I took a shot and mailed Doris my book and some information about Angel Faces and the girls we serve.

    The call came weeks later. After several tight deadlines of requested proposals from Doris, descriptive documents, and vetting forms flying over our computer screens I received word that Doris agreed to fund my retreats for three years.

    I remember the day well. The call came from two women, Noni and Leah, to give me the news. My tears of gratitude squirted across the room. It was what I needed. I wasn’t burned out after all! I just needed someone to believe in our mission and my team.

    This grant allowed my enthusiasm, which I feared I had lost, to immediately bubble up in me again and onto the girls and women we serve.

    We continued to run two levels of retreats for the past three years – all because of Doris gave me the chance, the nudge, and the hope I needed via of a grant – to keep moving forward, guiding, teaching, and inspiring many girls with disfiguring injuries to stand up and ask themselves, not “why me? But ‘Why not me?”

    The more I read and learned about Doris the more my heart squeezed for Doris understood pain and rejection and clawed up a long rocky road to find her own self-love, like me. Her warrior heart now breathes hope into our retreats.

    I’m sorry she was not able to meet the girls she has helped through Angel Faces nor see our retreats firsthand. However, a group of women from her Letters Foundation attended each year as special guests.

    Doris, you are not gone, you have just gone ahead. Your love, compassion, honesty, and reverence for what is real will forever live in our hearts and the hearts of those we touch.

    You too did not waste your pain in helping so many people get up off their knees and heal. As you recently passed, we can trust the earth surely shifted on its axis.

    I can hear the whisper from above, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

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    — Lesia Cartelli
    Grantee — Institutional at Letters Foundation (Angel Faces)

  • — Linda Martin
    Close Family Friend

  • — Ken Menkhaus
    Learning by Giving Faculty

  • I can only imagine the countless entries that will be posted on this site to give tribute to Doris Buffett - an extraordinary lady.

    I keep searching for the right words to give a meaningful tribute, but how is that possible for someone like Doris who gave so much of her time, herself, and her means to help others.

    I met Doris in a most unusual way - through a news paper clipping I held
    on to for a number of years prior to reaching out to her. Her beautiful smile captured my attention and something just told me to hang on to the article.

    I never thought twice about it until years later when I met a little boy who desperately needed help and I needed $20,000 to help him. I contacted Doris through her foundation and within a few days I got an email back that she would help. I was told if I could raise 10,000 she would match me 10,000. Her only request was that I could not tell anyone she was helping me.

    I didn't understand at the time but as I started sharing his story, lives began to change and I saw a deeper level of wisdom to her request. It was never about the money, it was about sharing this little boys' story so change could occur. She was wise beyond her years and her faith in me allowed me the opportunity to gain the skills I needed to help three other children get their heart surgery through other means. Her incredible insight and faith in me is something I will always be greatful for.

    In 2019, I was invited to Doris's 91st birthday party. So much fun and forever grateful to Noni Campbell and Alex Rozek for this invitation. They will never know how much meeting her meant to me. In closing, I want to say, Meeting Doris and being there at the party was a confirmation that miracles really do happen.

    I'm a pretty simple person but her family and best friend Noni made me feel right at home. While walking around admiring her beautiful home, it was clear to see she had her priorities in order. Elegant but not Lavish, just a down to earth fun place to be.

    The things that stood to me were the gifts she displayed proudly that were given out of love from family and friends young and old. Above everything , what really impressed me the most about her home was her family and best friend Noni.

    You could clearly see her caring and compassionate influence in all of them. Without a doubt she lived a life full of purpose and for those of us lucky enough to cross her path the torch will carry on.

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    — Patricia Ann Normand

  • — Kathy Anderson
    Executive Director of Empower House

  • — Ira Silver
    Learning by Giving Faculty

  • — Tyra Sidberry
    Former Director of the Letters Foundation

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