Missing Harry Butler — Grand Junction mourns longtime public servant
City councilman and longtime community volunteer Harry Butler died unexpectedly Sunday, June 2, of natural causes. He was 69.
Butler served on the Grand Junction City Council from 2001 to 2005 and was re-elected to council in April without spending a dime on campaigning.
Former Mayor Bruce Hill said he knew Butler well from their time serving together on city council, and later when Butler was elected to the Mesa County Valley School District 51 School Board of Education.
“I can’t tell you how many times we’d be working and end up at the dinner table together,” Hill said. “When I heard the news (of his death) the first thing that came to mind was what a caring citizen for Grand Junction he was. We just lost a great, caring volunteer. You could always count on him. He never missed a meeting.”
School board president Greg Mikolai said he had come to know Butler well as a “comrade, friend and fellow school board member for the past four years.”
Butler was involved in Special Olympics at the school level, was an advocate for minority students, and worked to keep school sports strong in the wake of budget cuts because of his belief that sports helps keep kids engaged in school, Mikolai said.
“Any organization would miss Harry Butler,” Mikolai said. “School District 51 will especially miss Harry Butler.”
Butler was also an ordained minister who for years led Saturday services at Handy Chapel. The tiny, historic church at Second Street and White Avenue was closed in February for remodeling and restoration.
Teddy Jordan had known Butler since fifth grade when the two attended Emerson School together. Later, as young adults, Butler umpired softball games that Jordan played in.
Butler’s family was one of the first families to settle in Grand Junction, Jordan said.
Jordan’s late wife, Kathy Jordan, was a historian, and instrumental in the preservation of Handy Chapel. Butler officiated at a memorial service for Kathy Jordan last year.
“He stopped by two weeks ago,” Teddy Jordan said. “It was good to see him. I was out on my porch; we talked about different things. I’m going to miss him.”
Josephine Dickey knew Butler “all his life,” and was friends with his mother and grandmother, she said.
Dickey attended Handy Chapel services on Sunday, and remembered how Butler would always shovel snow from the sidewalks surrounding the chapel.
He also visited prisoners at the jail on a regular basis, as well as hospital patients, she said.
“He was very faithful, going to the jails regularly to encourage them,” Dickey said.
“He loved the Lord, and was sure he was doing things that pleased the Lord. And he did it joyfully.”
City councilor Bennett Boeschenstein said Butler had been a family friend since 1982; he appreciated how Butler always asked about his kids, now grown and living in Denver.
The two men had worked together for the past few months on city council.
“He won handily,” Boeschenstein said. “He didn’t advertise and he beat out (his competition). People knew him and liked him so well.”
Butler is survived by his wife, Danielle Butler, and daughter Janielle Westermire, plus grandchildren. A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, June 10, at Canyon View Vineyard Church.
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