The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

Obituary: James David Butcher

May 16, 1939 – May 11, 2016


Jim was born the second son to Faye and Charles Butcher in Carlsbad, New Mexico. His father worked in the mines in New Mexico and thought the last frontier was the place to be, so in 1949 he moved the family to Alaska. Jim loved living and growing up in Alaska and could spin you many tall tales about the people and life in the frozen north.

During Jim's teenage years, he moved to Valdez and found there was no Boy Scout Troop. He led the effort to establish a Valdez Troop and attained the rank of Life Scout. In 1953 he attended the Boy Scout Jamboree at Irwin Ranch and toured the eleven Western States for six weeks with 50 other Alaskan Scouts.

He was a proud member of the Valdez High School's Buccaneer basketball team for four years and jokingly claimed his role was to rest the starters. He graduated 1957 in a class of eight. Upon graduation, Jim's summer employment was with the Alaska Department of Transportation. He worked as a surveyor on the old railroad right-of-way of the Copper River Railroad out of Cordova, which influenced his future decision of a career path.

Jim's family moved to Washington State and he soon followed and started working for the US Forest Service in Clark County. On weekend trips to Vancouver, he met Shareen Newman and they were married in 1962. The military draft was in effect and Jim was soon drafted into the Army. After basic training Jim was stationed at Ft. Lewis and served in the motor pool. After being discharged, he was hired by the Bonneville Power Administration in Portland, Oregon. He was a Civil Engineer Technician and worked on numerous power line design projects. For the next eight years Jim, Shareen and twins Scott and Rene, led a gypsy life in a 40' trailer in Washington and Oregon. The family finally settled, when the twins were eight years old. in LaCenter, Washington.

When the twins were in junior high, the family moved to Vancouver, Washington. In their sophomore year, Jim transferred to Bonneville's Covington Sub Station in King County. BPA was having problems with the power lines being vandalized and Jim headed the pilot project to mitigate the damage. He taught gun safety classes and talked to hunters he saw on the line about gun safety.

After the twins graduated from high school, Jim transferred back to the Portland office where he worked in the Photogrammetry Dept and started a new project to design standards to identify trees that may become a threat interrupting power on the transmission lines right of ways. He finished his career in 1994 with 33 years of government service. Jim earned many awards and accolades for his service over his career.

Jim found new adventures in retirement and for the next 13 years he did contract work for GERA Finley Engineering, Varsity Contractors, Locating Inc, NSR Information Inc, Quest and US West Communications.

James David Butcher

Jim and Shareen found time to travel and took several cruises. There was also a train/bus trip to Branson. Jim was known by his Western boots, large Western belt buckles and his distinguished curled 'stache. He did an eleven day land tour of Europe in his Western boots.

Jim is survived by his wife of 54 years, Shareen; his son Scott (Jenny), five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. His extended family includes four more grandchildren and five more great grand children and multiple more nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brothers Nathan and Thomas Butcher, his mother Faye, father Charles and beloved daughter Rene K York.

A Memorial Service will be held September 9, in Vancouver at the Evergreen Memorial Chapel at 10 a.m. Inurnment to follow.

Donations may be made in lieu of flowers to Arbor Hospice, 890 W Stetson, Suite A, Hemet, CA 92543.


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