Mr. William P. "Bill" Butler III

  • Born: November 29, 1938
  • Died: December 20, 2019
  • Location: Battle Creek, Michigan

Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care

105 Capital Ave NE
Battle Creek, MI 49017

Tel. (269) 962-5527

Tribute & Message From The Family

William P. "Bill" Butler III, age 81 of Battle Creek, died Friday morning, December 20, 2019 following a long illness. He was born in Battle Creek on November 29, 1938, the son of William P. Butler, Jr., and Catherine Morrison. Following his father's death, he was raised by his mother and stepfather, David H. Rathbun. He was preceded in death by them, as well as a half-brother, David Rathbun, Jr.

Bill is survived by his wife of 55 years, Judith (Justesen) Butler; his daughter, Jennifer (Michael) Lambert; his son, Michael Butler; and four beautiful grandchildren, Will and Cate Lambert, and Lauren and Jack Butler. He also leaves behind many extended family members and dear friends.

Bill was a lifelong resident of Battle Creek. He served in the Air National Guard and graduated from Western Michigan University. He was working with his stepfather at the Rathbun Insurance Agency in town when he met the love of his life, Judy Justesen, on a blind date. They were married at St. Joseph Church on August 22, 1964. Bill later returned to school and pursued a career as an Occupational Therapist, first at the Coldwater State Home and then at the Battle Creek Sanitarium Hospital.

An avid tennis player, Bill could often be found on the courts at the YMCA, and later in life enjoyed golfing. He was a diehard University of Michigan fan, and with Judy enjoyed season tickets to the "Big House" for almost 50 years, inspiring a love of Michigan football in more than one generation of his family.

Bill was a strong believer in supporting his community, and he served faithfully with the Cereal City Lions Club for more than 45 years. He was recognized as "Outstanding Lion of the Year" in 1982, and served as the chairman of the White Cane fundraising campaign for many years. He was also an active parishioner at St. Philip Catholic Church, volunteered at the Marian E. Burch adult day care center, and was a member of the Binder Park Zoo and W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. Bill often boasted that he had visited the bird sanctuary every year of his life.

The family will receive friends 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., Thursday, January 2, 2020 at Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care, Battle Creek where the Parish Rosary will be recited at 7:00 p.m., Thursday. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 11:00 a.m., Friday, January 3, 2020 at St. Philip Roman Catholic Church. In lieu of flowers, please consider making donations to the Cereal City Lions Club and/or the Msgr. William Fitzgerald Tuition Fund. Arrangements by Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care, Battle Creek. Personal messages for the family and/or favorite memories of Bill may be placed at


Condolence & Memory Journal

My sincere condolences to Judy and all the Butler family upon the death of Bill. Bill was a wonderful person, active in so many activities helping others. Ill always remember him with a big smile on his face.
One memory I have of Bill and Judy, a number of years ago, when they gave my husband and me tickets to the Kalamazoo Symphony. The tickets were for seats in the Grand Tier. Our name is Grantier. We all laughed.
Wanza Grantier

Posted by Wanza Grantier - Marshall, MI - acquaintance   February 03, 2020

Bill was such a special person. He will never be forgotten by his loved ones and friends. Judy: I regret so much not being @ the services.. I wanted to hold you tight and tell you how much you and Bill meant to Jerry and I.. I will do that when I see you. My heart goes out to you and your family. My prayers are with you.. May Perpetual Light shine Upon Him.

Posted by Helen Borsum - Battle Creek, MI - friend   January 05, 2020

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Butler family. On a trip to Detroit with Mike, I had breakfast with Bill and Judy. We talked for a couple hours. Despite his health challenges, Bill was such a gracious and thoughtful man - a truly good person.

Posted by John Goodale - Carbondale, IL - Family Friend   January 04, 2020

Dear Judie-- Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the family. It seems like yesterday that Bill and Ron drove a homecoming car at Pennfield High School. Knowing you from St. Philip, Nazareth College and Pennfield High School seems like yesterday but I am so glad you both had a wonderful life together and for many years.
May God bless you and yours, always,
Ron & Joan (Larese) Tuttle

Posted by Ron & Joan Tuttle - Battle Creek, MI - Friend   January 03, 2020

I have many great memories of Mr. Butler from my childhood. He created the Indy 500 pool every year and I loved participating in that. His deviled eggs at the 4th of July started my lifelong love of them. I will always carry these great memories of him with me the rest of my life. He and my dad playing tennis together. And on and on... RIP Mr. Butler.

Posted by Steve Sadler - Hastings, MI - Family Friend   January 02, 2020

Dear Judy,
So sad to read this news of Bill's passing. I pray that God's love and peace surround you and your family at this time and the weeks ahead.

Posted by Eileen Stewart - Battle Creek, MI - Friend   December 29, 2019

Dear Judy, I am so sorry for your loss. I didn't know Bill well, but I know you were very dedicated to him. May God hold you and yours closely during this difficult time. Much love. Judie

Posted by Judie Tuttle - Battle Creek, MI - Friend   December 28, 2019

Our prayers and love are with Judy and the family.

Posted by Teresa Durham - Battle Creek, MI - Family Friend   December 28, 2019

I wanted to convey our thoughts and prayers to Judy, Jennifer, and Michael during this tough time. I will think of all the great memories we had growing up.

God Bless John

My mom also sends her prayers and told me about all the great things that thy did together those many years ago.

Posted by John Adams - Tempe, AZ - Family Friend   December 27, 2019