Henry Buist was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Henry Buist and Francis Ravenel Buist. He was educated in Charleston schools, at the Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, and graduated from Yale University in 1919 with a B.A. degree. He served two years in the United States Army during World War I. From 1919 until 1924, he was employed by the Gas Engine and Electric Company.
He graduated first in his class from the University of South Carolina Law School in 1927 and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He was a fifth generation lawyer.
He practiced law with the firm of Buist and Buist, which was composed of his father, Henry Buist and his uncle, George L. Buist. In 1960, the firm merged and became Buist, Buist, Smythe and Smythe. In 1970, the firm again merged into Buist, Moore, Smythe and McGee, of which he was the senior partner at the time of his death.
In 1928, he was elected to the South Carolina Legislature and served two terms. He was a President of the South Carolina Bar Association, a vestryman and devoted member of St. Luke’s and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
He was a devoted churchman, a superb lawyer and a splendid citizen.