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Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Frank Butts, it is easy to see that he lived to be the hands and feet of the Lord he loved. His home was always open, and his compassionate spirit was easy to see. Frank was deeply devoted to his family, and it was no secret that he was married to the love of his life. He experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer, but what made these experiences so extraordinary was sharing them with the ones he loved. Life will never be the same without Frank here, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever cherish.
Life during the 1930s was anything but easy as the entire decade was cloaked in the hardship of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and things only became more dire when a drought covered our nation’s heartland for nearly two years during this time. Despite the trials around them, Clarence and Mabel (Haines) Butts were able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their lives with the birth of the baby boy they named Frank D. on March 22, 1931. The seventh of 13 children, he was raised on a small farm in Camden, Hillsdale County, Michigan, alongside his siblings. Growing up on a farm meant there was no shortage of things that needed to be done, instilling a strong work ethic within Frank. His father worked as a stone mason while his mother was a homemaker. As part of a large family, Frank often joked that he was the youngest at one time. The Butts family attended Frontier Church near Camden. Tragedy struck early in Frank’s life with the death of his father when he was only 10. This was also the same year that the family home burned down and Frank carried his Grandfather Haines out of the home as he was wheelchair bound. With the help of neighbors, friends, and family, they were able to move a vacant house to their property and then add on to it to make the place large enough for their family.
Although life wasn't easy while he was growing up, Frank made the most of what he was given. He attended a one-room schoolhouse for eight years. He was very close to his brother, Myron, and it has been said that they were partners in crime. They spent a lot of time target shooting as marksmanship ran in the family since their mother was an expert marksman throughout her entire life. Frank enjoyed waterskiing and was mechanically inclined from a young age.
After graduating from Camden High School, Frank was eager for all that life had in store. He enlisted in the Army and spent time at Ft. Custer in Battle Creek. Frank took a two week train ride to Ft. Ord in California, traveling North and South, picking up additional train cars of Army recruits as they journeyed West. Frank received training as an engineer at Ft. Ord before being sent to Korea during the Korean Conflict. One of his primary assignments was building a prisoner of war camp on an island, and he was in Korea for two years altogether. Frank’s ship returned to the United States on New Year’s Eve, but it didn't come to port until the next day so as not to release a ship full of soldiers into San Francisco on New Year’s Eve. Frank was very proud to have spent three-and-a-half years in the Army.
Three days after being discharged, new and exciting changes were in store for Frank when he saw an attractive telephone operator named Virginia through a window of the telephone company in the small town Quincy, Michigan. Smitten, he phoned her from an outside pay phone to ask her out, saying, “You owe it to me since I have been fighting for your country.” She agreed and a double-date that was scheduled at a local sandwich shop. They went on to date for two years and were married on June 20, 1954, at Union Church in Quincy. After an outdoor reception, Frank and Ginger drove off with their tin cans dragging behind. Unfortunately for Frank, a local policeman pulled him over as payback for his youthful shenanigans! The newlyweds then drove to Ohio for a quiet romantic stay at a motel, which ended up being right by an airport landing strip! Even after 64 years of marriage, Frank always brought Ginger coffee in bed in the mornings. The young newlyweds settled into their newly purchased home at 220 Maple in Camden. Together they welcomed two children, Greg in 1958 and Renee in 1961 into their hearts and home. After seven years they moved to a home that fit their needs better. Frank loved being a husband and father more than anything else. During his later years he was filled with unspeakable joy to become a grandfather.
Throughout his life Frank was rarely one to be still. He worked hard beginning with his younger days selling cookware in Marshall, Battle Creek, and then Grand Rapids. Frank also spent some time as a car salesman before ultimately making his career at Cummings Diesel until retiring after 30 years. He was the sort of person who could fix or build anything as he was very into woodworking. Frank could also repair furniture and also made handmade canes. With his time off, Frank could usually be found working on projects like home additions, concrete projects, or remodeling with his son Greg. He also knew how to cook. During his retirement years Frank enjoyed traveling and took trips to places like Boston, Niagara, Toronto, Las Vegas, Wisconsin Dells.
There was nothing that was of greater significance in Frank’s life than his faith. He became a Christian at a young age, and he lived his faith every single day. As a family they attended Metropolitan Baptist Church, Fundamental Baptist Temple, and later Berean Baptist Church. Frank was an active church member, serving as deacon and youth director, but he could also be counted on to help with any ministry opportunities that came up as he simply had a true servant’s heart. With every opportunity, Frank was very outspoken about his faith. He had a huge heart and were known for having a home that was always open. It has been said that anyone who walked through their door was instant family.
Loving, knowledgable, and giving, Frank was a devoted family man, lifelong friend, and amazing mentor. He was so giving and full of love no matter the personal sacrifice. Frank lived the faith he treasured, and his humor, kindhearted spirit, and unwavering faith were an inspiration. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
BUTTS, Frank D.
Grand Rapids, MI
Age 87, has gone home to be with our Lord and Savior. Frank found his faith as a Christian early on and was a member of Berean Baptist for many years. He made a true impact on so many lives sharing his faith with everyone he met. Known to many as a man who could fix anything, Frank served in the Korean War and retired from Cummins Diesel after 30 years. He met the love of his life, Ginger, at age 22 and they have been married for 64 years. All of his family and friends will miss his humor, affection, and most of all the ability to pick Grandpa's brain on any subject at any time. Frank's heart was full of love for his wife, Ginger; his children: Greg (Cheri) Butts; grandchildren: Tricia (Charles) Figueroa, Joel Butts, Tim (Louise) Nunn, Jamie (Jeremy) Berens; 16 great grandchildren, 2 great great grandchildren; siblings: Sharon Ladd, Shirley and Len Van Vliet, John Adams, Carl and Charlene Adams, Paul Seeley, as well as many nieces and nephews and the Bill & Val Holcomb family. He now has rejoined many of his loved ones in heaven including his daughter and son in law, Renee & Jim Gray, as well as his granddaughter, Brooke Butts. A celebration of Frank's life will be held on Saturday December 22, at 11 AM at Berean Baptist Church, 1574 Coit Ave NE. Friends may visit with the family on Friday 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE and beginning at 10 AM Saturday at church. Donations may be made to Berean Baptist Church. Please visit Frank's personal web page to learn more of his life story, leave a memory or condolence at www.lifestorynet.com.