By Dr. Curtis Varnell
On Sunday mornings, his deep, sonorous voice could be heard throughout the Gray Rock community as he expounded upon the word of God. Rolling across the flat bottomland, his bass tones resonated with the congregation who joined with him in worship. The Gray Rock church really just got going about the time church services concluded in surrounding towns. Worship usually consisted of warming up for an hour or so with Sunday school, congregational singing, special songs, and testimonies, and then letting Brother Logan preach till he got tired. As he warmed up, he would take his suit coat off, wipe his glistening face with the handkerchief from his back pocket, and exhort the crowd to live in a manner pleasing to God.
Accompanied by amen’s, hallelujah’s, and hand-clapping, he delivered the word of God to his congregation. Born in Logan County in 1906, he was eventually able to acquire several acres of prime farmland near Cotton Town and produced some of the best cotton crops in the region. An August 17, 1954, Paris Express photo shows him and Mayor Guy Conley at the Conley gin where Buford had just produced the first bale of cotton for the year. The week before, he had delivered a load of cotton to Dardanelle, the first bale produced in Yell County. At that time, he expected to produce a half-bale of cotton per acre on his farm. During the 1950’s, he employed many area farmworkers who helped weed the cotton in the spring and harvest it in the fall. As he grew older, in addition to preaching, he worked part-time at several jobs in Paris. He ran his own business cleaning several stores including Dillon’s grocery and Warehouse Market after hours. He also assisted in running the produce market and other general jobs around the store. Customers loved him and would catch him the aisles to chat.
Dennis Baltz of Warehouse Market enjoyed having him to work simply because he was the ideal greeter and brought in customers who enjoyed visiting with him. He was a very jumpy person. Employees loved to slip up behind him and “goose” him in the ribs. In his seventies, he would still jump straight into the air and oomph in his loud voice. Good-natured, he would smile from ear to ear, “I’m a gonna watch out for you son,” he would state with a big smile, “can’t let you be slipping up on me like that.” Buford Logan was an esteemed man of God and did much to bridge the gap between the black and white communities of the region. His bright smile would light up his entire face and he beamed with the joys of life. With his warm heart, positive attitude, and sense of humor, he influenced generations. Every community has these individuals. People who accentuate the positives and find good in others. Let us celebrate the contributions of the Buford Logan’s’ in our midst.