Buff Betz

November 3, 1952July 7, 2019

Buff Betz passed away early Sunday morning on July 7, 2019, in her home after a recent illness, surrounded by her immediate family and close friends.

Buff was a lifelong Florida native, daughter of former Sarasota Mayor Jack Betz and his wife Lucyle Cheney Betz. Buff was born with an unprecedented love for horses. She grew up here riding her beloved horse Snicker all over town on dirt roads long-since paved and developed, and became a locally renowned horse trainer for more than 40 years, ultimately specializing in Eventing.

Buff graduated from Lake Erie College and went on to complete her formal equestrian training at Fulmer School of Equitation in Ledston, England. In 1975, Buff, along with constant horse companion Traci Mollohan, started the Sarasota Equestrian Center. Her devoted young students, and in recent years, many of their parents, her adult riders, now number more than a thousand.

Buff was an avid and accomplished athlete and horse-riding champion with a keen competitive spirit, a calm and composed demeanor and a great sense of humor. She loved and mastered everything from Sailor Circus, water skiing and whitewater rafting to bowling, cards and games of all kinds. Buff was also widely known for decades as the Sarasota High School Varsity Cheerleading Coach as well as the SHS Cheerleading Competition Squad which she led on to win numerous National Championships.

For 35 years she worked in the school system, English Dept. & Career Counseling until her recent retirement from SHS, together with her now-departed husband, Math Teacher and Tennis Coach Kirk Pederson, where they were a constant fixture at every SHS sporting event since the mid 80's.

Buff's greatest pride and joy, and Kirk's as well, was their daughter Callie, a photographer, author and outdoors enthusiast now living in Colorado with her husband & dog Jude. They enjoyed a favorite family pastime of more than 30 summers & Thanksgivings at their creek-side North Carolina Mountain Cabin shared with dear friends Jinx Burr, Judy Goldman and their daughter Alyssa. Buff's spirit will live on there forever, as well as in the hearts of all her beloved family, friends and students. She will be deeply missed and never forgotten.

Buff is survived by daughter Callie Betz Pederson and husband Clint; sister Kim Betz and husband Steve; brother Johnny Betz and wife Carolyn Rule, his daughter Jacki and husband Peter, and his son J.B; devoted companion Mark Goggans; lifelong soul sisters, Traci Mollohan and her son Taylor; Douglass Greene; family members, Aunt Jan Betz and numerous beloved Betz, Boggs and Green cousins; local in-laws John and Janet Pederson and sons Max & Gus; beloved Minnesota in-laws, nieces and nephews; her loyal, longtime high school friends; and her many cherished horse friends.

Friends are invited to join for a Celebration of Life on Saturday, September 28, 2019; location to be announced at a later date.

In lieu of flowers and to keep Buff’s dream alive, contributions may be made to Finish Line Farms, PO Box 21465, Sarasota, FL 34276.


No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Buff Betz

have a memory or condolence to add?

Jan Spanos-Spangler

July 14, 2019

Like all of us locals, we grew up together, with Kim and Jonnie, even our parents were life long friends. I’ve tried to come to just one outstanding memory or kindness or wonderful fun thing I can grasp to share but there are too many. And I’m so heartbroken for her family and friends grieving right now my thoughts seem hollow. Buff was exceptional in many ways and everyone who knew her was changed for the better. She will be sadly missed in Sarasota and to far away places too. Gritty up horsey friend.

Margi Baskerville Nanney

July 14, 2019

Buff's sister Kim and I have been great friends for many years. My sister Liz graduated with Buff from Sarasota High School in 1970. They have worked together on the SHS Class of '70 Reunion Committee for many years and had been planning the 50th Reunion coming up next year. When Buff passed I not only felt the sadness and pain for Kim and her family but it also reminded me of how short life can be I would feel if I lost my sister Liz. Geez...I just can't imagine what this family is feeling. Buff was such an inspiration to so many full of life and I never saw her without a huge smile on her face. Horses and her family were her everything and I just can see her now teaching others in Heaven how to ride! May God's love and light shine upon Kim and her entire family and may Buff's legacy and winning spirit always remain at the center of our hearts. BUFF...YOU WILL BE MISSED SO MUCH!

Chris Niederpruem

July 14, 2019

I had the great privilege of having gone to school with Buff from first grade at Alta Vista through graduation at Sarasota High, then working with her and the English Dept. at Sarasota High. When I got sick four years ago, it was Buff and Traci who spearheaded all my aftercare, when I came home from the hospital. No one could have been kinder or more generous. That was just the way Buff was: kind, generous and unselfish to a fault. Ride like the wind, dear, along with Snicker and Prince and Kirk. YOU GO GIRL!

Tom Milner

July 13, 2019

I can remember Buff riding her horses, while I was spending many hours watching my sons at Sarasota Little League. Spending time during concerts and at the fire pit. Buff will be missed by the people’s lives that she touched.

Tom & Gerri Milner

Amy Hildreth

July 13, 2019

Thanks for giving me that chance to be a freshman cheerleader. I was unable to stay on the team due to an injury, but I felt beautiful, and part of something when very often in 9th grade you just don’t. I was moved away from most of my friends with the redistricting and this helped a lot. You were tough but kind. Rest In Peace Coach.

John Proctor

July 12, 2019

A day back in Germany, Autumn of 1972 that forever changed my life was meeting Buff, Michael Pillot and Scott Kady. So influential was meeting them, that I left Sydney, Australia, and moved forever to Sarasota. Buff taught and introduced me to many things including gaining self-confidence, how to shuffle cards, drive on the wrong side of the road, wearing Down vests, buying Levi’s and cowboy shirts from Drapers, how to muck out stables, and even ride Snicker.....well, kind of. I had the honor of being her Brother in Law for a short, but wonderful time. The kindest person I’ll ever know always with the sweetest disposition and brightest smile and whitest teeth! I will miss Buff

Deb LaPalerma

July 12, 2019

I had the pleasure of knowing Buff in highschool. She was always very kind and generous in nature. Her next journey will also bring her love and happiness. God speed...

Beth Gormley

July 12, 2019

What can be learned from such an extraordinary teacher and human being? Judging everyone favorably, and judging all animals as wanting to bond with humans are a couple of things that can be absorbed from learning from Buff. There is simply nobody so realistically compassionate that I know of, and I have known Buff, as her riding student, since 1982. The only thing that matters at this point is that her family and her animals are OK.

Buff was by my side or in contact with me during the most significant times of my life. She really made a huge positive impact on me and many horses. I hope all of her students pass on the gift of her knowledge and practices by participating in equestrian sports while helping other horse people as she did.

Beth Turgeon

July 11, 2019

The countless ways Buff touched young women's lives is so special! I'm only one of so many who is grateful for sharing happy times with her! I was her student office assistant at McIntosh "Junior High" at that time and remember how excited she was planning her sidesaddle ride down the aisle on Snickers back when she married her sweet Kirk! Both Snickers and Kirk were her great guys! In the years that followed she spent countless hours molding myself and many other eager young horse lovers into well trained, safer, better riders. We loved every minute together in the arena and on the cross country track she created for us on the 12th Street and Tuttle corner property. From painting jumps to practicing emergency dismounts at a canter together we experienced a spectacular horse world all thanks to her! I will always be able to hear her laugh in between sips of Pepsi from her Tervis with her doberman by her side in my heart forever. Thank you Buff, you are loved and missed!!

Betsy Schaub-Lauber

July 10, 2019

When I first met Buff, she and Tracy were at her Grandma's place on 12th and Tuttle (I think). I was to help teach riding with them for the summer. The weeks that I worked with the two of them made me admire how they interconnected with each other and their students. I had never been around a person like Buff who was so devoted to what she was doing and who she was working with. She became my 'idol' and will always be. When I saw this post tonight I couldn't believe it! Buff was loved by so many, and has helped so many through the years. I don't know what happened but I can say for sure that God has a Very Special Place for such an Incredible Woman. I am so sorry Kim and Johnny and Buff's daughter. My thoughts and prayers are with you all! And my heart is broken.