Michael R. Butler
1940 ~ 2019
Captain Michael Richard Butler, Age 78, of East Aurora, died in his home on Sunday April 7 after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. Born in East Aurora, New York, August 5, 1940, the son of Barrett and Mary Butler. He was an independent Irishman, who did not have the career of the average Northwest Airlines pilot.
“I just always wanted a job” Growing up, he worked in a drug store, as paper boy, soda jerk, gas station attendant, and shipping clerk. He graduated from the University of Buffalo, class of 1962, with a degree in economics. In college he continued his avocations working for Bethlehem Steel, a machinist, printing for Life Magazine and Merrill Lynch as a billing clerk.
From 1961 - 1962 he served his county proudly as a US Marine. While in the Marines, he was offered pilot training, having been identified as having the aptitude for flying. He was very interested, but his uncle, a pilot in WWII, begged him not to. He continued his diversified career working for the Pennsylvania and Erie Railroads, carpet installer, telephone switch installer, and taxi driver, while building flying time in South Florida and earning his pilot’s license.
He took a sabbatical in 1963 and was a ski bum in Aspen where he was a flight instructor, waiter and cook. Mike continued his extensive sky diving avocation.
He began his flying career with Sunny South Air Craft, flying charters. He was also a ticket agent for Eastern Airlines, a flight instructor for Burnside Ott and a pilot for Mackey Airline. Mike joined Northwest Airlines on 3 March 1969. July of 1970 began the series of 4 layoffs over the next 7 years which would extend Mike’s numerous job opportunities: bartender, freight loader, used car salesman, convenience store clerk, city bus driver, sky marshal, and as a pilot, working for Cargolux, out of Luxembourg to S. America. Mike worked for ALPA several times. Mike retired from Northwest airlines in 1999.
He was an active community member, serving in Kiwanis Club and volunteering for many community organizations. He was also a member of Frontier Skydiving Club from 1960 to 1965 making 294 jumps. Mike was his own general contractor for his farmhouse south of Apple Valley, MN, where he had his racehorses. He hiked across the Grand Canyon with 19 friends in 2007, four months after having a hip replacement.
Mike was a kind, generous, loving, adventurous, humble and respectful person. He loved people, animals (especially dogs), dollar stores, big band music (played trumpet with community bands), thoroughbred horses (he raced and bred thoroughbreds), pick-up basketball and the Boys & Girls Clubs. He was an interesting and interested person. He never forgot a name, story, or sports statistic. A favorite past time was sitting on his front porch listening and sharing stories of East Aurora life. No matter a person’s walk in life, Mike was interested in getting to know you and would always remember and care about you. He saw the best in everyone.
He is survived by his wife Glenys, cousins: Linda Blair (NWA pilot, Larry Becker’s sister-in- law), Laura Butler, Steven Butler, Pete Hinman and Mark Hinman; brothers in law sister-in law: Marlo Maschoff and Eldean Maschoff and many nieces and nephews.