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Duane Harris Butcher


1927 - 2020
Duane Harris Butcher
June 21,1927 ~ December 23, 2019
The patriarch and leader of our family, Duane Harris Butcher, received his wish to spend Christmas with his wife when his mighty heart stopped beating and he returned to his heavenly home to be with her on Monday, December 23, 2019. He was a cherished father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, brother, cousin and friend to so many who will miss him.
Duane was born to James Harris and Marie Ross Butcher on June 21, 1927 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He grew up as the middle child with 7 siblings, including his darling younger brother Jerry, who died in 1941. Duane attended South High where he excelled at football and was an All-State Fullback. Upon graduation he joined the US Coast Guard as a Merchant Marine, serving the final months of WWII on the USS Partridge. As a young adult he was very interested in weightlifting and bodybuilding, becoming a champion lifter. In 1947 he was the Utah Junior Heavyweight Champion and named Mr. Junior Utah. He always felt privileged to have trained at Vic Tanny's on Muscle Beach in California with bodybuilding champions such as Steve Reeves and his good friend Bill Melby.
Upon returning from service in WWII and its aftermath, he began his career as a general contractor, first with his brothers and later with his own company, where he had a long and successful career building and remodeling homes, businesses, military housing and government installations. He was particularly proud of the Kaimuki-Kahala Stake Center, the Lahaina, Maui chapel and the many projects he did on behalf of Valley Bank & Trust.
He met his lifelong companion and Valentine, his "Mrs. B" of almost 71 years, Valene Colton, shortly after his return from WWII service. They were married on October 12, 1948, and later sealed in the Salt Lake Temple.
Together they had six children and numerous adventures together. He was generous and loving, always taking care of his entire family especially his widowed mother, his dear in-laws Frank and Katie Colton, and his siblings and extended family, but especially Valene during health crises and as her health declined.
One of the highlights of his life was being called to serve on a building mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He took his wife and 5 children to Hawaii where he worked on the Polynesian Cultural Center, the Hawaii Temple Visitor Center and several chapels. He developed a love for Polynesia and its people during his mission and subsequent work in the Pacific Islands, making lifelong friends including Daniel Hola, Ross Moody, and President Glenn Lung. He and Valene lived more than 50 years in the Holladay 24th Ward where he held many church callings, from High Councilor to Young Men's President, plus serving for many years in Scout Leadership whereupon he earned the Silver Beaver award.
Duane loved to work and always worked hard. He dedicated himself to every endeavor he attempted, whether in his profession as a building contractor, his church service, or supporting his family, friends and neighbors. He often said "The harder you work, the luckier you get." He recognized that luck really meant blessings, and expressed gratitude in all things, from "living in the land of the free" to being "born of goodly parents." He was blessed with many great friends and enjoyed spending time with them playing tennis, golf, or talking of family, business, and the gospel. He was particularly loyal to his boyhood and life-long friend Roger Mackay; and cherished his friends Ed Throndsen and Marv Wallin, whom he considered mentors and brothers, all who passed before him. He had many other friends too numerous to mention, some who remain to honor him.
Duane valued education but chose to forgo his own, even giving up his football scholarship for WWII service and family responsibilities. Through avid reading and self-teaching he became accomplished in his field and as knowledgeable as his peers who went to college. He helped establish a scholarship at the University of Utah for students of Utah Pioneer Heritage, as he often expressed gratitude for his ancestors and the sacrifices they made so that he and his posterity could have the blessings of the gospel in their lives.

Duane was an example to all who knew him, always engaged in good works. He honored every request for help, and was known to perform building or maintenance projects and other service for friends or family without payment. He loved to go the extra mile (and then some) in his service. There was always someone in his life in need of help, and he never gave up on them. There are many examples of employees he treasured, that others would not take a chance on to employ, yet he was loyal to a fault, saw the good in people and always gave them another chance.
He had a strong testimony of his Savior Jesus Christ and lived his life accordingly. He wrote in his testimony: "If the Lord has plans for me soon in the next life, I'm sure that the greeting I will get from loved ones will be reward beyond measure. I wouldn't want anyone feeling sorry for me. I've had a wonderful life, a beautiful loving wife, 6 great kids and now my beautiful grandchildren. Oh, how I love each one of you! If I'm not here to enjoy your presence then know I will be able to watch over you from above. Try to be the best you can. I bear witness that the Book of Mormon is indeed 'Another Testament of Jesus Christ' who is the Lord and Savior of all mankind. It complements the Old and New Testament and gives us a more comprehensive understanding of God's plan of salvation for us. I express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to the Prophet Joseph Smith and the many others throughout the ages who sacrificed their lives and earthly comforts to bring these magnificent Testaments to us."
He is survived by five of his children, Brent, Bonnie Pace (Stan), Bethann Martin (Gary), Blake (Jane) and Bradley; 18 grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren as well as many nieces, nephews, and cousins. His wife Valene, daughter Brenda, and his siblings preceded him in death, but are rejoicing to see him again.
Services will be held on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020 at 11 a.m., at the Holladay North Stake Center, 4395 S. Albright Dr. SLC. Viewing will be at Wasatch Lawn Mortuary, 3401 S. Highland Dr., SLC, Friday 6-8 p.m., and 1 hour prior to the service on Saturday. Donations may be made to the Duane H. Butcher Family Scholarship at the University of Utah.
Published in Deseret News from Jan. 5 to Jan. 10, 2020
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