Trevis Milton Butcher
WINIFRED — Trevis Milton Butcher passed away in his sleep of natural causes Sept. 14, 2017 at his home in Winifred. Trevis was born Jan. 23, 1967 in Missoula, Mont. to Edward and Pamela (Ward) Butcher during their final year of college.
Trevis is survived by his wife of 29 years Karla Ann; sons Joshua (Nicole), T.J., and Noah; daughters Katelynn (Garrett) Wenetta, Jenae, and Victoria; his brother Ross (Karla), their children: Andrew, Taylor, McKensie, Jace; sister Becky (Buster); parents Ed and Pam Butcher; as well as many loving family members.
During his first four years, the family lived in Hardin, Mont. where his father taught American Government and in Valley City, N. D. where his father was a history and political science professor. In 1971 the family returned to Winifred when they purchased the family ranch from his grandfather Milton Butcher. Young Trevis soon became involved in ranch activities.
Trevis was always a very independent and inquisitive person following his dad "helping" with ranch operations since he was more interested in working than playing! This included long days riding bareback in the "Breaks" (first his pony Jigger and then "Old Vic"). At age 6, he "fired" a hired man who had not properly saddled a horse and by the time he was 9 and 10 years old, Trevis was operating most of the machinery and was working in the shop including welding and helping to tear-down and rebuild motors and transmissions.
Trevis attended Lewis and Clark grade school in Lewistown from 1st through 4th grade. His parents transferred him and his brother to Winifred for his 5th grade where he attended until his sophomore year when he made the decision to transfer to Fergus High School where he played football and became immersed in the Future Farmers of America. He became the only member to be elected twice as the FFA Chapter President, won the District Farm Mechanics contest for three years, as well as winning the Chapter Public Speaking contest for three years. The high-light of his FFA involvement was being awarded the FFA State Farmer Degree. However, one of his greatest thrills was being elected to the State FFA Officer Team. He devoted his first year at Montana State University traveling as a State Officer to FFA chapter functions throughout Montana promoting youth agriculture.
Trevis was a gifted speaker and his senior year in high school was high-lighted when his class voted to have him give a "student address" at the class graduation in addition to the normal Valedictorian and Salutatorian speeches. Trevis' inspirational address to his classmates contained all the "theater and drama" which was his trademark!
While at MSU, Trevis met his future bride Karla Finlayson who was a College of Great Falls basketball player visiting Bozeman. He finished his formal education at MSU, married Karla, and they moved to the ranch at Winifred where he had been operating a 1,500-colony honey bee operation. He began the honey operation during high school in conjunction with the ranch operation. He partnered for five years with Bernie Podeska from California, until Trevis sold his interest.
Upon his return to the ranch, Trevis partnered with his father (Ed) on the cattle and grain operation as ranch manager. In 2008 he and Karla took complete control of Butchers Rolling Hills Ranch. Trevis had converted the ranch from grain to a total cow-calf operation, with dry-land hay which Trevis began producing for the national dairy-hay market.
Trevis became active in local and state politics upon his return to the ranch — leaving the Democrat Party (he had organized Young Democrats in high school) and became an ardent conservative in the Republican Party. He was soon elected Chairman of the Fergus County Republican Committee and was also selected to serve on the State Republican Board.
Trevis successfully managed several state-wide constitutional initiative campaigns including: limiting State budget increases, protecting property rights from eminent domain actions, and allowing voter recall of elected judges (which brought out opposition of the legal community in full force led by then Attorney General — current Governor — Bullock in conjunction with the public employee unions, who were able to maneuver a sympathetic Court to order the initiatives removed from the ballot even though polls showed voter support over 60 percent.
Trevis was a sought after advisor for political campaigns and had numerous offers for national positions. Involvement in the political process resulted in his frustration with the "lack of transparency" (or misrepresentations of officials' voting records) by partisan groups using selective legislative votes. As a consequence, Trevis designed his famous "Legistats" website which reviews ALL votes made by legislators instead of using selective votes to rate and promote favorited elected officials.
He was also a strong supporter of term limits for elected officials and successfully managed the opposition to legislators' efforts to gut or eliminate Montana's limits on Legislative terms.
He dedicated extensive time to local community and youth needs — especially the Winifred Volunteer Rural Fire Department, procuring equipment and serving in numerous positions with a primary focus as the department training officer.
He worked extensively with the home school movement in Fergus County and throughout the State with an emphasis on promoting speech and debate, resulting in a number of the students qualifying for regional and national competition.
However, this man of many talents was centrally focused on involvement in his Church. In addition, he devoted several years to the Gideon Bible distributions as a camp officer and church speaker on behalf of the Gideons.
He was a fourth generation Winifred rancher, who expanded and modified much of the ranch operation with innovative concepts for range management and livestock management, which had become the primary focus at the time of his death.
He will be remembered for his "high energy" love of God and his family, and strong patriotic love for America and its traditional values which he often used his speech and debate skills to defend. Most of all, this warm and gentle man loved people and always had time to visit and help someone in need. Trevis was an organ donor. He left this world the same way he lived — helping others!
Viewing and visitation will be Thursday, Sept 21 from 5 to 8 pm at the Creel Funeral Home Chapel. Services will be held at the Fergus High School auditorium on Friday, Sept. 22 at 10 am with lunch following at Central Baptist Church in Lewistown. After lunch, interment will be in the Winifred Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested for the Winifred Rural Fire Department, the Gideons, or Your Network of Praise.
Arrangements are under the care of Creel Funeral Home. Trevis' family and friends can share memories and condolences at www.creelfuneralhome.com
Published by Great Falls Tribune on Sep. 19, 2017.