Don Butcher could boast of plenty of achievements. He ran his father's electrical company. He worked until a couple of weeks before he died. He built intricate model ships. And he had tremendous devotion to San Jose.
His family, however, remembers him for his fun-loving ways -- the "ring-a-ding'' dance that convulsed them in laughter, or the foam-rubber Shark fin he wore to his daughter's wedding, or the way he taught them to rake their fingers across a birthday cake.
"My dad was really unusual,'' said his daughter, Terrie Haley. "We call him a goofus. But he wasn't trying to show off. It was pure fun.''
Butcher, 88, died July 10 from complications of pneumonia at a hospice near Modesto. His family members say he instructed doctors to take him off antibiotics. "He knew what he wanted to do,'' Haley said.
If anyone could be said to represent a generation of San Jose business figures, it might be Butcher. Born at San Jose Hospital on Feb. 18, 1924 to Roy and Ruth Butcher, he was the fourth of five brothers.
In 1910, his father had started Roy M. Butcher Electric, which had its offices at 510 W. San Fernando Street, a now-cleared site where the city hopes to locate an A's ballpark. The company had the #4 contractor's license in the state of California.
Football starDon Butcher went to San Jose High School, where he was a star football player and student body president in the class of 1942. After a brief stint at San Jose State College, he went into the Naval Air Corps, which sent him to Notre Dame for officer training.
For the rest of his life, Butcher loved college fight songs, and taught his children how to sing the fight songs for Air Force, Notre Dame and San Jose State.
After the war, a quarter short of finishing at San Jose State, Butcher went to work for his father, eventually taking over the firm. Even after the property was sold to the city, he continued to work as a senior project manager for MidState Electric until shortly before his death.
SJSU fanButcher was a member of Rotary and a fervent season-ticket holder at San Jose State football games. His model ships, which took as many as 800 hours each to build, were shown at the old Lou's Village on West San Carlos Street.
Butcher met his wife, Betty (nee Moxley), at Cowell's Beach in Santa Cruz. "That's the woman I'm going to marry,'' he told a friend. Seven months later, in 1948, he did.
Butcher is survived by his wife; children Terrie Haley (Mike) of San Jose; Donna Butcher (Bill McDonald), of Hughson, Ca; Jeff Butcher (Joanne), South Lake Tahoe; and Stacey Butcher, Marin. He also leaves seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
His family says there will be no services but a boisterous party. Check www.rememberingdonbutcher.com-- a site still under construction -- for details.