Thomas Butler, 1932-2017

Published 9:52 am Friday, January 20, 2017

Thomas Robert Butler Jr., 84, of Albert Lea died Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, surrounded by his family in his home in Sun City, Arizona.

Tom was born July 31, 1932, in Mankato, to Thomas Robert Butler Sr. and Stella Josephine (Chambers) Butler. He married Barbara Ann (Lehman) Butler on May 13, 1967, in Austin.0120-obit-butler

Tom was a devoted father to Dawn (Butler) King, Tammy Butler, Rob Butler, Kimberly (Benjamin) Fryer and honorary children Jini and Johann Vethavanam. He cherished his grandchildren Mallory and Maxwell King, Madeline, Thomas, Emilee and John Butler; Natalie, Jessica and Isaac Weiland; Madeline and Noah Fryer; and honorary grandchildren Natasha and Samantha Vethavanam. 

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Tom was preceded in death by his mother, Stella (Chambers) Butler; father, Thomas R. Butler Sr.; stepmother, Genivieve “Girlie” (Landkammer) Butler; sisters Mary Patricia (Butler) Holmstrom and Margaret Chambers (Butler) Delfosse; and grandson, Benjamin Weiland.

Tom was a graduate of Mankato High School, class of 1950. He went on to complete his political science degree at St. Thomas College in 1954.  On the advice of one of his uncles, Tom went to the University of Minnesota, where he obtained his law degree in 1957. From there he moved to Albert Lea to practice law until Aug. 1, 1977.  At that time he was appointed to County Court judge in Freeborn County, later becoming a District Court judge until his retirement on July 31, 1997.

Tom was an active member of his church and community.  He was a member of St. Theodore Catholic Church in Albert Lea for 60 years. Tom served as a lector and was grand knight of the Knights of Columbus. Tom was a member of the Jaycees, Elks Club, past president of the Lions Club, chair of the Albert Lea School Board and a scoutmaster for Boy Scouts of America. 

Tom and Barb also participated in philanthropic organizations in Albert Lea including the Albert Lea Art Center, United Way and the Riverland Community College Scholarship Foundation.  Tom volunteered for the city of Albert Lea in sanitation and recycling. His favorite pastimes were golf, reading, gardening and first and foremost — his family. Tom enjoyed watching the Vikings, socializing with his amazing friends, his best friend, Barbara, and a Bushmills neat.

Funeral services for Tom will be at 11 a.m. May 5 at St. Theodore Catholic Church in Albert Lea.

Memorials are preferred to the Albert Lea Art Center, St. Theodore Catholic Church and Riverland Community College Scholarship Foundation.