Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Bumiller took path less traveled

Adventurer, filmmaker drove Jeep across globe

By Rebecca Goodman
Enquirer staff writer

CLIFTON - Ted Bumiller's red Jeep Willys was somewhat worse for the wear after he logged 45,000 miles driving it around the world in 1955-56. Stones thrown by Arab boys cracked the windshield, and a charging water buffalo in northern India left a gash in the right side.

The 11-month jaunt set him back $8,000. But after he returned to his home in Clifton, he told the Enquirer he was ready to go again. And he did.

Mr. Bumiller - an adventure filmmaker, lecturer and architect - died Saturday at University Hospital of complications of a stroke he suffered June 18. He was 79.

"He was larger than life," said his daughter, Elisabeth Bumiller of Bethesda, Md. "Everybody knew him, and they knew his house - a big old yellow house on Resor Avenue."

Mr. Bumiller made his way around the world two years after receiving a degree in architecture from the University of Cincinnati. He worked for little more than a year in his chosen field before investing $2,000 in camera equipment and film for his venture.

A bachelor at the time, he spoke a smattering of French and no other language except English. He said in that Enquirer interview that he depended on sign language to help him communicate.

Mr. Bumiller brought home about 8,000 feet of film and some 800 slides, which he edited and narrated for his first film: By Jeep Around the World. He had created a new career for himself. He spent the next 48 years making a total of 17 films and lecturing at schools, universities and travel clubs around the country.

Over the years, Mr. Bumiller climbed the Matterhorn in Switzerland, photographed the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, walked with Aborigines in the Australian Outback, camped with Bedouin tribesmen and went scuba diving off the French Riviera.

He lived with monks in a monastery in Burma and took a trip down the Amazon River, when he also climbed Huascaran - a 22,000-foot peak in the Peruvian Andes.

He photographed the Taj Mahal in India and a floating market near Bangkok. He discovered 2,000-year-old jars of Roman wine and oil while scuba diving in the Mediterranean Sea.

A lifelong Clifton resident, Theodore Roberts Bumiller graduated from Hughes High School and was a pilot with the Army Air Corps during World War II. The war ended before he could be shipped overseas.

His daughter said he was a five-day-a-week jogger and an avid gardener. "Neighbors in Clifton frequently stopped to admire and photograph the many hundreds of tulips that sprouted along (his) sidewalk each spring.

"He was a huge amount of fun. We made a lot of his travels with him," she said of family members.

Mr. Bumiller was editing his last film, a travelogue on China, when he died.

"He was dancing when he had the stroke," his daughter said. "It was a Friday. He had lectured somewhere in Columbus and had been driven down to join my stepmother at a birthday celebration at Kenwood Country Club. He was dancing, which we all thought was appropriate."

He was a member of the Travel Club of Cincinnati.

Other survivors include his wife of 29 years, Ruth Ann; three other daughters, Trine Bumiller and Jennifer Elken Maxwell, both of Denver, and Karen Bumiller of Phoenix; a brother, William Norton Bumiller of Dayton; and four grandchildren.

A memorial service is 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Calvary Episcopal Church, 3766 Clifton Ave.

Memorials: Calvary Episcopal Church, 3766 Clifton Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45220.

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Bumiller took path less traveled
Elaine McCarty, teacher and avid volunteer