Ross Buford Ausburn, co-founder of SMC Packaging Group, formerly Southern Missouri Container, passed away on Saturday, December 26. He was 88 years old.

Ausburn was born on February 27, 1932, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and graduated from Will Rogers High School in 1950. He attended the University of Oklahoma on a football scholarship and played for the legendary coach Bud Wilkinson.

After graduating with a BSBA, he enlisted in United States Marine Corps, attaining the rank of First Lieutenant. After his stint in the Marines he returned to the Tulsa area and began his career in the corrugated packaging industry at Hoerner Boxes. Following several promotions he ended up in 1963 in Springfield, Missouri, as the General Manager of the Hoerner sheet plant at Battlefield and Scenic. It was here that he started his long-term business relationship with his partner Charles R. “Chuck” Bachus, and in 1972 they founded Southern Missouri Containers, Inc. 

The company has grown to encompass four operations in Springfield and Kansas City, Missouri; Conway, Arkansas; and Tulsa, Oklahoma, and has been rebranded as SMC Packaging Group. Today SMC Packaging Group is the largest independent corrugated box manufacturer west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rockies.

Ausburn was active in many business organizations over the years, including the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Missouri, AICC, The Independent Packaging Association, and Rotary International. He served on the Board of Directors of AICC from 1985-1991, first as a Regional VP for the states of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas, then as a Director at Large. He was active on AICC’s Containerboard, Regulations & Sheet Supply Committee, the Safety Committee and Membership Committee.

He was also active in community affairs, volunteering his time and resources. He served on the Springfield Park Board, Springfield Family Y Board, and was a big supporter of the Ozark Trails Council, Boy Scouts of America. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. 

He is survived by a son, Kevin Ausburn, and a daughter, Kristin Schneider; one brother and one sister, as well as several grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wives Mary Ann Ausburn in 2002, and Sally Fisher Ausburn, in 2012.

Expressions of sympathy may be made to Covenant Presbyterian Church Foundation, 2441 S. Lone Pine, Springfield, MO 65804, or the Ozark Trails Council Boy Scouts of America, 1616 S. Eastgate Ave., Springfield, MO 65809.

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