Edward “Ed” Allan Butler of East Hope, Idaho, passed away from a presumed heart attack on September 19, 2019, at age 78. He was born on August 26, 1941, in Sandpoint, Idaho, to Eugene W. Butler and Vernise G. Sharai Butler.
Ed was raised in East Hope and had deep roots there; his maternal grandfather, Wellington F. Sharai, settled there in 1889 and raised his family; his father and paternal grandparents,
Gene and Lillian Butler, moved to East Hope in 1933 when Gene and Lillian bought an old store and rebuilt it to become Butler’s Store. As a child, Ed’s main forms of summer recreation were fishing and swimming. He would often go boating with his Uncle Chester Sharai, who would pull Ed around the lake on a sheet of plywood and a rope – they called it “surf boarding” – and later on water skis, which he became very talented at. Ed graduated from Sandpoint High School in 1959. He attended the University of Idaho and graduated in 1965 with a civil engineering degree.
After college, Ed got a job with the Forest Service on the Clearwater National Forest at Orofino, Idaho. He also joined the Idaho National Guard and did basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and specialized training at Fort Lee, Virginia.
One spring day in 1966 his 18-man survey crew was loading up to head to Canyon Ranger Station. Two ladies – a cook and her helper, Sandy – asked the survey crew for a ride, which they obliged. Ed and Sandy hit it off right away and were seen holding hands by the end of the week. Ed knew she was the right woman for him on a trip to meet his family because of how Sandy immediately fit in. They married on February 22, 1968, at the Orofino First Baptist Church.
Shortly after Ed and Sandy married, Ed’s unit, the 116th Combat Engineer Battalion, was activated. This was the largest single National Guard unit to be called upon during war, having comprised of 804 men from Idaho. He was sent to training in Fort Lewis, Washington, in May, where Sandy visited him a few times. He headed to Vietnam in September 1968. For his five-day R&R in December, Ed and Sandy went to Kauai, Hawaii. He left the Vietnam War in August 1969 and was discharged from the National Guard the following month.
Ed and Sandy bought their first home together in 1970 on Chase’s Flats near Orofino where they lived for 27 years and raised their three kids. One of his favorite pastimes was spending time on Dworshak Reservoir, where Ed, Sandy, their three kids, and friends would camp and boat nearly every weekend.
Ed retired from the U.S. Forest Service in 1997 after 32 years as a Civil Engineer on the Clearwater National Forest in Orofino. It had always been Ed’s plan to retire in East Hope in the house built by his Grandfather Butler on the property his Grandfather Shari purchased in 1900 from the railroad. As such, Ed and Sandy moved to East Hope in April after his retirement.
Sandy was approached about taking the City Clerk job, which she accepted. Shortly after that, the mayor approached Ed about becoming a City council member, which he agreed; this followed in the footsteps of some of his ancestors. Ed was appointed on April 12, 1998 and served for 12 years, primarily handling street and water system repairs.
Ed and Sandy continued contributing to the community even after retirement, including donating property for the fire station (currently the City Hall) and serving the city as volunteers.
Ed was a tinkerer and skilled artist, particularly known for his woodworking craftsmanship. These skills also extended to carving, photography, drawing, and digital art. He was also a historian. In addition to his many skills and talents, he was admired for his honesty, integrity, and life-long pursuit of learning, of which are traits he instilled in his children.
He was also known for his sense of humor and mischievous ways. Ed leaves a legacy through both the special memories his family and friends have as well as the physical artifacts from his years of hobby work - historical documentation (including much about East Hope), civic service improvements, woodwork, and other artistic remnants.
Ed is survived by his sisters, Janet Butler, of East Hope, Idaho and Sandy (and Bob) McNeel, of Seattle, Washington; his children, Jeff (and Shelly) Butler of Gales Ferry, Connecticut, Rick (and Melissa) Butler of Portland, Texas, and Barbie (and Cliff) Miller of Potlatch, Idaho; eight grandchildren, Ryan Butler, Daya Butler, Jacob Pullin, Luke Pullin, Lindsey Pullin, Alyssa (and Luke) Johnson, Phylicia Miller, and Dylan Miller; three great-grandchildren, Kayden Kramer, Kassandra Kramer, and Charlie Miller; cousins, nieces, nephews and an abundant number of friends. He was preceded in death by his wife, Sandy Butler; his parents; and his three brothers, baby Butler, Leonard Butler, and Kenny Butler.
A celebration of Ed’s life will be held in spring/summer of 2020 in East Hope, and family and friends will be invited when a final date and location are determined. Memorial donations may be made to the Hope Cemetery Committee.
Family and friends are invited to sign Ed’s online guest book at www.coffeltfuneral.com.
Arrangements are under the care of Coffelt Funeral Service.