Born and raised in New York City, he attended Queen's College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in voice.
He served in the Army during the Korean War. In New York he worked as a musician, playing the lute, and as a music editor for films.
Mr. Buetens came West in 1966 to attend graduate school in music at Stanford University, and never left the area.
He continued his career performing and teaching lute, guitar and voice. He even wrote a method for the lute that was widely used throughout the world, family members say.
Mr. Buetens worked at various jobs, including as a music professor, music publisher, printer and paralegal. He thought of himself as a tinkerer and Renaissance man, the family says. He was always busy creating, in one way or the other, says his oldest child, Sophi Buetens of Oakland.
He had a love of classical music and opera, languages, gardening and science. He followed the news, loved to read and cook, and enjoyed watching football and tennis. He was always exceedingly proud of his children and never ceased encouraging them in their own pursuits, says Ms. Buetens.
His wife, Blair Scott Buetens, died in March.
Survivors include his four children, Sophi Buetens and Sara Buetens, both of Oakland; Raymond Buetens of Aptos; and Julian Buetens of New Mexico. Other survivors are his sister, Miriam Simpson of New York; brothers Bernard Buetens of New Jersey and Melvin Buetens of Florida; and five grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held in April.