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Life Story / Obituary
Joan Butler was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and sister whose generosity and kindness were limitless. She enjoyed many simple pleasures in life yet her family was clearly her greatest reward. A faithful person, there simply wasn’t anything that Joan wouldn’t do for a family member or friend in need. She lived her life fully and treasured her deep companionship with her husband, Paul. Joan leaves behind many wonderful memories and contributions to the communities she called home. There is no doubt that she will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved her.
The 1920’s were known as a time in our history of sustained economic prosperity with a distinctive cultural edge, aptly earning the decade the name of the Roaring Twenties. With the media focused on jazz music and celebrities, especially sports heroes and movie figures, Rodney and Norma Phillips welcomed home their own shining star, their newborn daughter, Joan on August 17, 1929, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Born just weeks before the fateful October stock market crash that led to the Great Depression, Joan’s generation will go down in history as one of the greatest.
Growing up in Indianapolis, Indiana, Joan learned the importance of love and forgiveness from her close-knit family and Quaker community. Her parents modeled a life of hard work managing a truck repair service where her mother was the bookkeeper. Raised as an only child for a large majority of her growing years, Joan was entertained by the many adults in her parent’s social circle as well as extended family that lived in the family home. She was well behaved for the most part except for the occasional stirrings during Sunday service where she was known to be yanked from the pew from time to time. Joan often teased that one of her arms was longer than the other from these moments from her childhood! Her childhood was filled with memories of spending time with her Dad’s family in Ohio where she played with her cousin, Charlotte on her uncle and aunt’s farm. During those hot summer evenings, Joan’s southern grandma and her aunts kept them entertained with their funny stories and superstitions. As a high school student, Joan had a natural talent for music. She took classical piano lessons in downtown Indianapolis and played everything from Chopin to Hoagy Carmichael until her fingers were worn out! During her senior year of high school, her family welcomed home her baby sister, Jane and she was delighted!
Not to be forgotten was the meeting of Paul Butler who would steal her heart forever! Introduced by a mutual friend, they hit it off right from the start. Theirs was a lasting love that marveled the minds of others. Married at Second Friends Church on September 20, 1947, the happy couple was soon joined by the arrival of their first daughter, Dianne and shortly after along came Debbie! Committed to their faith, she and Paul remained active at Second Friends Church bringing up their girls with a strong foundation. As a young mother her daughters kept her busy running with neighborhood friends as well as their involvement with Girl Scouts. Jo cherished these years as a Troop mom! The years seemed to fly by with camping, crafting, and performing songs for church services and area nursing homes. Raised by a dedicated music lover, it was no surprise that the girls were accustomed to cleaning the family home on Saturdays with the jazz music of Dave Brubeck and Thelonious Monk blaring from the radio! Jo relished in those years of sharing her love of music, playing games, and filling their hearts with laughter!
As a family, they shared many lasting memories. They first traveled to Florida along with Paul’s sister and her husband in 1956 in their brand new Chevy! They also visited Washington, DC with Jo’s parents and Jane, as well as Northern Michigan before they moved to Lansing where Paul accepted a position with Oldsmobile. A memorable trip was after her sister, Jane graduated from high school, Jo and Paul took the family to the New York World's’ Fair where they also splurged on attending Broadway shows and live TV game show tapings. Each July 4th, they hosted the entire family from Indiana and Ohio to their Lansing home to swim in their backyard pool, to race rafts, to do cannonballs, and to play games well into the evening hours. No one cared if this meant sleeping on the floor as the barbeque and the laughter were always worth it! There was never a dull moment whenever the family was together!
Solid partners, she and Paul held many special interests. They shared a common love of dance. On countless occasions, during their younger years, they’d take to the dance floor to show off their jitterbug skills and later joined a square dancing group, the Mosquito Hoppers, who met at an outdoor pavilion once a week to perfect their skills and have a good time! Social by nature, they also enjoyed many years spending weekends in their Hi-Lo trailer camping with other couples. Remarkably, they walked the Mackinac Bridge on Labor Day for many years! Blessed with grandchildren, Jo and Paul treasured time with each and every one of them. They included them on countless trips in their Hi-Lo often scouting out just the perfect spot for adventure!
After her retirement from the purchasing department from the State of Michigan, they took their Hi-Lo trailer to several locations seeking their future home. Luckily, they discovered Gold Canyon, Arizona, where they made their home for more than twenty years. During retirement, they fell in love with ballroom dancing! But it didn’t stop there, Jo also joined a clogging class, proudly donning her pin that declared, “I clog so that my arteries won’t!” Always accepting of one another, Joan encouraged Paul to pursue his dream of obtaining his pilot’s license. They spent many years flying together around the country! Active in their faith, Jo and Paul became founding members of the Gold Canyon Methodist Church, now a thriving and vital presence in the area. Jo developed deep friendships with the women of the church and people in the community. She will forever be remembered as a positive person with a strong faith in God, and a firm commitment to her family. May her loved ones be reminded of her steadfast love as they endure the years ahead savoring the rich memories she leaves behind.
Joan Butler, 88, passed away July 15, 2018. Loving wife of the late Paul. Beloved mother of Dianne (Bill) Dishman, Debbie (Dave) Mitchell. Dear grandmother of Eric (Kimberly) Mitchell, Sarah (Brent Reynolds) Mitchell, Abigail (Jon) Steuwe. Great grandmother of William, Samantha, Ethan, and Ellie. Sister of Jane Trowbridge. Surrogate grandmother to Jane’s two children, Janet and Jeff.
A memorial visitation will be held on Friday July 20 10-11 AM with a memorial service at 11 AM at Neely-Turowski Funeral Home, 45100 Warren Road, Canton.