John (or Ian) Buist was born 30 May 1930, son of Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Powrie Buist, RAMC, and Christian Mary Buist. He was educated at Dalhousie Castle School, Winchester College and New College, University of Oxford. From 1981 his partner was J. E. Regensburg, (Dennis Regensburg); Regensburg died in 1988.
Buist career included the following posts: Assistant Principal, Colonial Office, 1952-54; seconded to Kenya Government, 1954-56; Principal, Colonial Office, 1956-61; Department of Technical Co-operation, 1961-62; British High Commission, Dar-es-Salaam [Tanzania], 1962-64; Consultant on Administration, East African Common Services Organisation/Community, 1964-69; Secretary, Commission on East African Co-operation and related bodies, 1966-69; Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Development, 1966-73; Head of South Asia Department, Ministry of Overseas Development, 1973-76; Under-Secretary, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Overseas Development Administration), 1976-90. Buist died on 27 October 2012.