Michael Paul Butler, age 76, of Ripon California died at home on September 29, 2020. Mike leaves behind a legacy of love and laughter that knows no bounds. He was a character, a storyteller, and a grumpy old fart as his wife Sharon (Haynes) Butler is known to call him. Behind the grumpiness was a kind-hearted softie that would do anything for her.
Mike was born the second son of George and Hazel Butler on August 26, 1944. He was the perfect sidekick to his older brother Bill who quickly taught him how to become a troublemaker. The duo became a trio when brother Steve was born nine years later. The Butler Boys share a strong work ethic, twisted sense of humor and stubbornness that is legendary.
As a kid Mike was involved in Boy Scouts and spent a great deal of time outdoors. He started camping and fishing at Pinecrest Lake when he was just a toddler, a tradition he carried on with his children and grandchildren throughout his life. He also worked mowing lawns with his dad and brothers on Saturdays. He may or may not have been fired for his attitude. Twice.
After having been invited to leave St. Elizabeth’s, Mike graduated from Castlemont High School in 1962. He immediately went to work as a Teamster for Robertson Drayage and was there for a few years before his number was called. He was inducted into the US Army in 1964 and served a tour in Vietnam where he specialized in chemical warfare and running a very lucrative craps game. A proud veteran, Mike returned home safely in 1967 and returned to work for Robertson’s.
On weekends he tended bar at The Safari in Oakland. It was there that he met the woman who would change his life forever. One look at the redheaded firecracker and that was it for him. Sharon and Mike married on June 22, 1968. It was the one and only time he shaved his beard. Sharon almost did not recognize him.
The following year they welcomed their daughter Colleen (Butler) Medeiros into the world and two years later came Shannon Butler. Brother Tym rounded out the family three years later. Together, Mike and Sharon poured everything they had into building a life with their kids. They bought a small house in San Leandro and signed the kids up for everything they did not get to do when they were young. He coached soccer, umpired baseball games, sat through cheer competitions and wrestling matches. He worked through his lunch hour and breaks just to race home to catch that last inning or two of a ball game for his kids. All while rebuilding that small house into one large enough for all those kids and all their stuff.
After almost 40 years of service, Mike retired from Tharco as a proud member of Teamsters Local 70 at age 57. That is when he took on his new persona as Santa Claus. Mike worked as Santa at the Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton and for private parties for years. He was the grumpiest Santa ever behind the scenes but in front of the kids he embodied the spirit of Santa Claus like no other.
In 2003 Mike and Sharon relocated to Ripon where they quickly became part of the community. The two founded the Ripon Community Garden in 2014. The garden provides fresh organic produce to the Ripon Senior Center and opportunities for residents to grow their own little garden. The garden grew from clear ground to a sprawling landscape filled with garden boxes and fruit trees. In recent years they have added chickens and honeybees.
Before the first grandchild was born, Mike and Sharon got to pick what they wanted to be called. Sharon wanted to be Nana but in his typical grumpy fashion Mike refused to be Papa. Then Savannah came along, and he was so in love with being a grandfather that he melted. Papa it was from then on out. Over the years, eight more grandchildren came along including Tony, the twins Ilana and Violet, who were followed quickly by Maclaine. Then along came the triplets Kincaid, Tildon and Braige. Pulling up the rear is Bowie. These children were the light of his life and most importantly they are all hilarious, making him immensely proud.
Mike worked hard his whole life taking care of people the best way he knew how, through acts of service. While he may have grumbled his way through every minute of it, he loved it. He wanted his family and friends to know that he had a wonderful life largely due to his wife Sharon and the family and life they built. In the end, he made it clear that he wanted people to remember him by the stories he told and that he hoped he made you all laugh.
Services will be held Saturday 10/17/2020 at 11:00AM at the Deegan-Ripon Memorial Chapel 111 Palm Avenue Ripon, CA 95366. A luncheon reception will be held immediately following at the Ripon Community Garden located at 1179 Vera Avenue (corner of Vera and Doak).
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