Farm Animals 09

Michael Charles Butler

January 16, 1951 ~ December 20, 2021 (age 70)

Obituary

 

Michael Charles Butler

Michael Butler of Rose Prairie, BC passed away on December 20, 2021 surrounded by his wife and four children at the Fort St. John Hospital after a two-year battle with cancer.

As the youngest of four children from Adrian and Mary Butler, Mike grew up on an acreage in Saanich, near Victoria, BC. He loved working at his sister Joan and her husband Jim’s business “Gilbert’s Boat House”, through high school. Later he became an apprentice carpenter working for his brother’s company “Steve Butler Construction Ltd.” In 1970, he married his high school sweetheart, Deborah Forbes and together they began the search for land they could afford.

Soon after their first daughter Julia (Bowie) was born, they left Vancouver Island to look around for property in the interior. In 1973, they found a half-section of rolling hills and settled in Rose Prairie BC. Soon they had horses, chickens, and pigs, but it was Mike’s dream to raise cattle.  Opportunities for work in the north were easy to find for a young, strong journeyman carpenter, so he was able to gradually built up the cow herd. This meant he required more land and more pasture, so he increased his land base and became involved with the Beatton Doig Community Pasture Association, where he served as president for many years.

Together they welcomed their daughters Joanne (Brough) born in 1975, and Shannon in 1981 and finally their son Warren in 1988. Having two jobs meant working hard and his philosophy for life was, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Mike was always building something. First setting up their trailer and building a porch, a cabin, a shop, then a house and barns and cattle and equipment sheds. As they built up their land base, there was lots to do, hay to make, roots and rocks to pick, and building and maintaining miles and miles of fences and winter feeding. He was a dedicated cattlemen and stories of the roundups and cattle drives, great horses and good bulls were told again and again. Many of his wonderful friendships were rooted in these experiences.

Warren was just a toddler when Mike partnered with his brother David to start a farm equipment dealership, Butler Farm Equipment Ltd. This was a new career for Mike, but he embraced it and tried hard to serve the farmers and ranchers in the area that he had so much respect for. He excelled as a salesman and won many awards and sales trips. He had varied interests from sailing to car racing and enjoyed running a few construction projects along the way. He was always drawn back to Vancouver Island where he was born, and ended up developing a special spot at Cowichan Bay where Mike and Deb spent a few weeks each year.

In 2014, Mike narrowly escaped a heart attack and required five coronary stents. The necessity of having an outside job as well as running the ranch didn’t seem to make sense anymore and he gave up working in town to do the job he loved the most. Mike was a long-time member of the BC Cattlemen’s Association and was given the Living Legend award in 2016. He was a founding member of the BC North Peace Feeder Association and served as a director for over 30 years until 2018. 

With more time on his hands, Mike picked up playing harmonica to accompany Deb while she sang and played guitar and soon the pair were performing at Open Mic’s, local music festivals, the Legion, the Seniors Hall dances and the Annual Butler Farm Equipment Christmas Party.  No matter what song he sang, everyone thought he sounded just like Johnny Cash and “Jackson” was regularly requested.  Any proceeds he was given he donated to the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation “popsicle fund” which provides free popsicles to anyone going to the hospital lab, which was his pet project.

The last few months became more difficult as his health deteriorated and though he was very ill in early October, he was determined to finish mortaring stone facing on his house using heavy field stones he had gathered from his land over the years. In late October, he was out in the coral organizing the pregnancy checking of the last group of Red and Black Angus bred heifers that he raised this past summer, with help from the family and friends. He was still working on the installation of a solar system for his cabin he designed to protect the water pipes from freezing in November.

Recently when a discussion about the quality of life came up, Mike said, “If I can just sit here without too much pain and have a nice view of the land with my wife beside me to talk to, it’s a pretty good day.” He truly felt that he had been blessed with a tremendous life, had four incredible children that had all chosen wonderful spouses, and was looking forward to grandchild number seven that will soon be born to Shannon and Lee. 

Mike leaves to mourn, his loving wife of 51 years, Deborah, and their children Julia (Ron Bowie, their sons James, Adam and Connor), Joanne (Kiley Brough, their son Nicholas and daughter Lauren), Shannon (Lee Coogan, their son Clyde and newborn daughter, Loretta) and Warren (Kayla, stepson Ben). Also, Mike’s sister Joan Gilbert, brother David Butler and brother Steven (Sharon) Butler, sisters-in-law Connie (Toby Davidson), Janice (Stephen Rice), Monet (Dave) Forbes. Many nephews and nieces and very good friends and wonderful neighbors.

He was predeceased by his parents, Mary and Adrian Butler and brothers-in-law Jim Gilbert, and Derek Forbes.

The family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you Dr. Michael Wright and the team of nurses in the cancer clinic at the Fort St. John hospital who extended to him the best care they possibly could throughout his illness and became his friends. We’d also like to thank Dr. Page for his assistance during the last month.

Expressions of sympathy can be made in memory of Mike to the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation - Click Here.

An informal memorial is planned for the Spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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