Saturday, March 19, 2016
2:00 PM to 5:00 PM EDT
10641 Tompkins Drive
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Robert Butler, it is easy to see that he was a hardworking man of honor and integrity who lived a life of purpose each day. He was the sort of person who never did anything halfway, and he never backed down from a challenge. Bob was blessed to spend nearly 60 years with the love of his life, and together they witnessed their family tree blossom to include the family who made him so very proud. Someone who preferred to be casual and easygoing, he was the sort of person whom everyone wanted to know. Although he will be deeply missed, Bob leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his place.
The 1920s were an exciting time in American history, at least until the crash of the stock market in October of 1929 brought the prosperity of the day to a halt. The years that followed were laced with hardship as the Great Depression settled in for more than 10 years. It was just prior to this historic day in October that Leonard Herbert and Mae Angelia (Goldsmith) Butler were pleased to announce the birth of the healthy baby boy they named Robert Edward on April 2, 1929. Born in Three Rivers, Michigan, he was the second of six children in his family as he was raised alongside his older brother, Leonard, and his younger siblings, Beverly, Norma, Sandy, and Ray. Bob’s father worked as a baker while his mother focused her time and attention at home until his father’s death when Bob was just 16 sent her into the workforce. She went to work at local paper company, and Bob was deeply affected by the loss of his father.
In many ways, Bob experienced a typical upbringing. The family had moved to Vicksburg, and he enjoyed hunting and trapping, selling the skins to earn some extra money. Bob once used some of his money to buy figure skates for his sisters, Norma and Bev, to whom he was very close. He grew up on several farms and could sometimes be found out playing football in the fields with his good friends, Clare Moyer and Don Noel, amongst the cows. Bob graduated from high school in Vicksburg in 1946 where he also played football and ran track. As a young man Bob served in the Air Force and was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base. It was while in the Air Force that he first saw Alaska and fell in love with the place.
With his military duties fulfilled, Bob returned to civilian life. It was during this time he met his future wife Martha Gene Harding, also from Vicksburg, and attended school in Detroit where he studied radio communications. Bob and Martha married in June of 1955 and soon after moved to Arlington, Virginia where Bob took a job with the government as a teletype and radio repairman. Shortly thereafter he received a government assignment on the island of Cyprus
While they lived on Cyprus Bob built a boat on top of the apartment house where they were living. They even needed a crane to get it down! For his boat’s maiden voyage, Bob took a friend along since Marty was pregnant at the time, which proved to be a good thing as a storm blew in and left them washed up on an island. On that island was a nunnery, and with only beer on their boat the pair was exhausted and dehydrated. The nuns provided them with water, food, and assistance. Shortly thereafter, Bob and Marty were blessed with the birth of their first son, Steven, and they also moved back to Vicksburg. His boat remained, however, as he sold it to some friends. In Vicksburg he began working in television repair and eventually communications with AT&T, which is where he spent the majority of his career. They also completed their family with the births of two more sons, Thomas and Michael.
At first Bob and Marty bought a little starter home on Tomkinson Drive, but they later purchased 22 acres of property just down the street. Many of his nights and weekends were spent down on his property either digging a pond, or building his house, which was one of his dreams. He and a buddy bought a crane, and they each set about digging their own pond. The pond was a source of fun for summer parties for family and friends as they did plenty of swimming, canoeing and kayaking as well as their Fourth of July celebration complete with fireworks. In the winter, Bob liked cross country skiing on his property and ice skating on the pond with his sons and grandsons.
As his family and friends can attest, Bob was always doing something. He dreamed of learning to fly, and he did earn his pilot’s license and then purchased his own two seater plane that was kept at the Plainwell Airport. For the most part, Bob’s adventures in the air were rather tame, except for a few shaky landings including the time when one of the wheels fell off! A lifelong runner, he participated in several local races and was still getting out for between two to four miles most every day when he was 86! An avid bowler, Bob was on several leagues including his most recent league, The Old Timers. Throughout his long retirement he loved spending time with his family. Bob liked golfing with his sons, grandsons, his sister Sandy, and friends, and he was thrilled to take Marty on a trip to Alaska. For years Bob took his oldest grandson on spring break either skiing out West or golfing in the sun down South, and he enjoyed watching his youngest grandson take part in his various sports. Someone who loved to tinker, he restored several tractors and various other things over the years.
A laid back, driven, and fun-loving man, Robert Butler lived life to the fullest. He found his greatest joy in his family, and a friend of Bob’s was a friend for life. Bob leaves behind a priceless collection of memories and will be forever missed.
Robert Edward Butler, of Scotts, died on Sunday, February 28, 2016. Bob’s family includes his three children: Steven (Teresa) Butler, of Portage; Thomas (Cheryle) Butler, of Portage; Michael Butler, of Grand Rapids; two grandchildren: Justin (Jenny) Butler and Dylan Butler; and one great granddaughter: Arielle Butler. Robert was preceded in death by his wife, Martha, in 2015. The family will have a gathering on Saturday, March 19th from 2-5 p.m. at 10641 Tompkins Drive. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can get more updated service information, sign the guestbook, and share a memory and/or photo. The family is being assisted by the Life Story Funeral Home, 409 S. Main, Vicksburg (269-649-1697).