BUTLER, Richard Kenneth Roy

April 13, 1953 – December 26, 2011

Rick – husband, Dad, brother, uncle, and friend to absolutely everyone who met him, left us suddenly while doing what he loved most – skiing with his beautiful daughters in Kananaskis. Rick was born and raised in Edmonton, graduated from the University of Alberta and married Gwynneth Penny, “the most beautiful girl in the entire school” in 1978. Rick loved Gwyn more than anything and most importantly, told her and everyone else that fact every day.

Rick held a number of senior government roles throughout Canada’s North from Yellowknife and Iqaluit to Whitehorse. Rick and Gwyn returned to Whitehorse after spending a year travelling the world; Corrie and Marni were both born there. In 2002 and after a time in Revelstoke, BC, they moved to Cochrane where Rick was the CAO of the Calgary Regional Partnership.

In 2010 Rick was elected Councillor and Deputy Reeve for the County of Rockyview. He threw himself into that role with the passion and enthusiasm he exhibited for everything in his life. Even the most hardened critic could not doubt that here was an honest and dedicated individual who truly cared about his constituents, who inevitably, became his friends.

No one could resist Rick’s enthusiastic and exuberant personality – along with the laughs, the hugs and the sound effects. He listened in such a way as to make everyone believe that this was the most important conversation and this moment was all that really mattered.

He had a passion for planting trees on ‘the land’ and would spend hours, days – entire weekends tirelessly nurturing and moving his seedlings. Rick planted thousands of trees and could be seen any time of day or night, in any weather, watering his beloved trees wearing his rubber boots, his housecoat and his cowboy hat complete with ear phones duct taped to his head so they wouldn’t fall off! He planted out of faith – “faith is planting a tree that you will never sit in the shadow of.” Rick was not tethered to traditional time, and so, there are still 1500 trees to plant!

Rick will live on in the hearts of his best friend and wife Gwynneth, his daughters Corrie and Marni, his siblings and their spouses: Barb Butler, Gail and Don Campbell, Shirley and Monte McIntyre, Rob Butler and Tannis Hushagen, the entire Penny family, his many nieces and nephews and countless friends.

Rick believed that moderation was for monks; to enjoy the full flavour of life take big bites. He did and we love him for it.

A celebration of Rick’s life will be held at Bearspaw Rock Point Church, Corner of Lochend Road and Highway 1A on Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 1:30. To respect Rick’s commitment to sustainability, rather than flowers, those who wish can donate to a leadership trust fund administered through the Communities Development Society. For details on donations, contact robbutler@xplornet.com.

The family extends thanks to the Nakiska Ski Patrol, EMS, STARS and the staff at the Foothills Hospital.

  1. On 29/12/2011 at 11:04 am Sue Meikle Said:

    Dearest Gwyn, Corrie and Marni,

    Words cannot express how saddened we were to hear of Rick’s passing. We have many happy memories of our times together here in Whitehorse; of Rick’s laugh, of his zest for life and above all, his very obvious love for and devotion to his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Love from Sue (Scott, Lindsay and Dylan) Meikle
    Whitehorse, Yukon

  2. On 29/12/2011 at 3:52 pm Mark Hambridge Said:

    Gwyn – I had the privilege of working for Rick in C&TS in Whitehorse in the 1980s and was always impressed by his energy and enthusiasm. It was a sad day when you left to travel the world but great for you and I’m sure you have wonderful memories of those times. I saw his name in the news here in Calgary over the last few years but only recently realized that this was the same Rick I knew back then. I share your sorrow and extend my sympathy and condolences to you all.
    Mark Hambridge.

  3. On 29/12/2011 at 8:40 pm Larry Kwiat Said:

    Gwyn, I remember Rick from YTG, where I brought information services to his efforts. He always inspired me to dream big, and to love all of the efforts – make them succeed. I was sad to see the news of his passing, and I want you to know that my thoughts are with you and the family. Somehow, I can see him rising even on the wings of this experience, but I know it is a tremendous loss to you and the family.

    God bless,

    Larry Kwiat

  4. On 30/12/2011 at 8:17 am Yvonne and Deb Callaway Said:

    Our thoughts are with you at this sad, sad time. Rick truly will be missed.

  5. On 30/12/2011 at 7:05 pm Kathy van Westenbrugge Said:

    Dear Gwyn, Corrie, & Marni,

    When I heard the telecast of Rick’s sudden death late on December 27, it took my breath away. I was awake all night thinking about you, praying that the Lord would comfort you in your deep sense of loss and grief.

    As I look back over the past few months, I felt glad that I had a chance to speak with you and Rick at Cochrane Alliance Church when my sons and I were visiting. I’ve always appreciated the warmth of your friendship and the ways in which you involved yourselves in ministry there. I also remember fondly Corrie and Marni as they were involved in children’s programs with our sons, Luke (20) and Mark (19). John says that he remembers teaching your girls in Sunday School in grade 4! We had a lot of fun with our kids during our years at the Cochrane church, didn’t we?

    I also didn’t realize that Rick and John are the same age–John was born on December 15, 1953. He also is an alumnus of the University of Alberta’s medical school. Rick and John both seem younger than 58!

    Please be assured of our continued prayers as you move ahead with your lives without your beloved husband and father. I pray that Corrie and Marni will find the strength and grace to continue their studies at the University of Calgary, even though this will be very tough for them right now. After speaking with you last fall, I realize that Rick was so pleased with all of your accomplishments at U of C.

    I hope to attend Rick’s memorial service on the 4th at Rock Pointe Church, which is not far from our home in Bearspaw. Some of our kids may have a chance to attend as well.

    Although skiing will never quite be the same for Corrie and Marni without their father along, I’m glad that he died in our mountains doing something that he thoroughly enjoyed.

    I want to share with you a promise from Scripture, in closing, that I read this morning from Isaiah 43: 1-3:

    “But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says,

    ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
    When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.
    When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.
    When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
    For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.'”

    Peace and Love to you,

    Kathy, for the van Westenbrugge family (John, Luke, Mark, Kristina, & VIctoria)

  6. On 31/12/2011 at 7:07 am Walsh Family Said:

    Dear Marni, Corrie & Gwen;

    We send our deepest condolences to you and to your family. Today and forever, may you always find comfort in the great memories that you shared.

    Sincerely, The Walsh Family, Austin, Brooks & Kristin, Jade, Susanna & Brian.

  7. On 31/12/2011 at 9:30 am Shane, Cheryl, Jennifer and Christine McPhail Said:

    Dear Gwen, Corrie and Marni,

    Our hearts were saddened to hear about the loss of Rick. Our memories went back to all the great times we had in Revelstoke. We will remember his great laugh and the love he had for all of you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. May the special memories you share help to comfort you.

    Sincerely Shane, Cheryl ,Jennifer and Christine McPhail

  8. On 01/01/2012 at 11:59 am Vicky Paraschak Said:

    Hi Gwyn – I was horrified to learn about Rick’s accident and death. I cannot imagine how you and your daughters will come to terms with his sudden absence from your daily lives. I know how fully Rick filled your days with love, support and enthusiasm for all you were and could be, and I hope those memories give you comfort and guidance in the dark times. Rick lived life so fully that it seems impossible he’s gone; I trust that God will bring you all peace and the knowledge that Rick is still with you in spirit each moment of every day. Love Vicky

  9. On 02/01/2012 at 7:56 am Tim Creelman Said:

    Mrs. Butler and Family:

    I work at The City of Calgary and I came to know and later work with Rick 10 years ago in his role as Executive Director at the Calgary Regional Partnership. More recently, our paths crossed in his new role with Rocky View County on the Intermunicipal Committee that our two municipalities maintain together. In all our dealings, Rick was the consummate professional. He elevated the quality of dialogue on sometimes difficult political issues between individuals and municipalities that had very different views on important matters. This is truly a unique skill. Condolences to you and your family.

  10. On 02/01/2012 at 11:45 am Buddy Wesley Said:

    I like to express my deepest condolences to Rick’s family, I knew him back in the late nineties when he started to work for us, ( Stoney Tribal Admin.) I knew him as a very kind gentlemen and a very understanding man. And he also work for my band ( Chiniki Band), but I have to say that it seems that the Creator takes home the very good people, and I belief that the Creator knows what is best for Rick. I really did appreciate his attendance for our Cochrane/Nakoda Pickin’ Party a number of times and I knew he was a good musician. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    With Deepest Sympathy Buddy Wesley

  11. On 02/01/2012 at 6:41 pm Fran and Greg Johnson Said:

    Dear Gwyn, Corrie and Marnie,

    Greg and I would like to say how sorry we were to hear about Rick’s passing. I have been a friend
    of the Butler family for many years and so has Greg, my husband. I first met Rick when Gail had
    invited me over to meet the Butler family. Rick was about eleven and I remember then, thinking what a nice brother Gail had and that he had an absolutely wonderful smile.
    Throughout the years Greg and I have enjoyed meeting you Gwyn and visiting with you and Rick at
    Butler gatherings. It was always fun to catch up with the two of you.
    Please know, Gwyn, Corrie and Marni how very saddened we are. Rick was a terific fellow.
    We are so sorry.
    With deepest and heartfelt sympathy,
    Fran and Greg Johnson

  12. On 02/01/2012 at 11:14 pm Dale Rae Said:

    For all the news stories I’ve read about him, I only really know Rick through his daughters, and my son – so I know that his contributions to this world are great, and will carry on. Corrie, Marnie, you are really special young women, so I know your dad was a special parent, who loved his family. He was a kind and generous mentor, as well; I know that Towen admired and appreciated your dad very much. There’s so much more to come, for this world, from what Rick Butler has given to the young people who knew him! He will be remembered, and his gifts will continue to grow.
    You are all in our hearts, and prayers.
    Dale Rae, for the Rae and Bilawka family.

  13. On 03/01/2012 at 9:54 am Judi Gunter Said:

    I worked with Rick as a consultant to the Calgary Regional Partnership in 2005. I particularly remember a coffee break during which he talked with such obvious pride and love about Gwyn and the girls. I am so sorry for their loss of husband and father. But I also remember what a master Rick was at ‘herding cats.’ He had a gift with leading people. His passing is a loss to the whole community.

  14. On 03/01/2012 at 10:27 am Carolyn McDonald Said:

    Dear Gwyn, Corrie and Marni:

    I had the opportunity to meet you when I rented your home in Cochrane while you were living in Iqualit. I was saddened to hear of Rick’s passing. I thought at the time that you had a lovely family and were some of those special people we are lucky to meet in life. Thinking of you.

    Regards, Carolyn McDonald

  15. On 03/01/2012 at 8:11 pm Marina Krainer & Heinz Unger Said:

    It is with great sadness that we have learned about the passing of Rick. He was a true visionary who worked very hard towards achieving collaboration, accountability and sustainability.

    When Rick and his wife Gwyn visited the Ghost Watershed this past fall on a hike guided by GWAS Directors, he was in awe of the beauty of the Ghost, while recognizing the challenges it is facing. He encouraged us to continue being a voice for the Ghost Watershed and valued the work being done by GWAS’ volunteers.

    Our sincere condolences go out to Rick’s family and friends.

    The Boards of Directors of the Ghost Watershed Alliance

  16. On 04/01/2012 at 8:23 am Brenda Said:

    On 02/01/2012 at 3:54 pm Rick Butler Said:
    Dear Gwyn and Family:
    Diane and I extend our condolances at you husband and dad’s passing. My experience of Rick was exactly as you have described him in the various articles and interviews. He was truely exceptional and we will both miss him so much. I can’t stop thinking of my last words with him at Truper’s launch in Bragg Creek. As I walked by him on my way out he was eating a second bowl of the chili he had made for the participants. I tossed out a comment to him that he shouldn’t be eating it if he hoped to loose weight. He burst out with his signature laugh.

    The day before Christmas I opened a cc’d email between him and a member of my Water Co-op. He was helping her get a mortgage. I loved his dedication to anyone who needed his help. There were certainly lots of us in Div 1 and we are all very grateful for the time he had with us.

    Gordon and Diane McIlwain

  17. On 04/01/2012 at 10:49 am Lyle Rowe Said:

    Gwyn, girls, and family, – very sorry to learn of your huge loss with Rick’s tragic accident. In my own experience and in speaking with others over the years, Rick had earned nothing but great respect and the highest regard in the community, with peers and from friends. Reflecting back only a few years, well – to the previous century – the mid 70’s, when Rick was about to finish his final year in Rec Admin, U of A, and I was only entering my first year; well absolutely just the same as Corrie was quoted in the Calg. Herald: Rick was and always had been a ‘Cheerleader’. He promoted continually and encouraged ALL of the new students to participate in ALL of the Rec. Students’ Society events and activities, ‘Rookie Camp’, Ski trips, Talent Nights, intramurals, AB Rec. & Parks Assoc., and even academic studies!! I will never forget his enthusiasm, joviality and encouragement of the ‘newcomers’. Fortunately, I did manage to follow in Rick’s foot-steps on at least a couple of occasions; one was with the County of Barrhead – he had been the Rec. and Further Education Director. Then when I took on that role, the legacy he left with the County was one of very high regard for his promotional and advocacy abilities, and again, the greatest respect and admiration for his community and public service contributions!
    With our sincere condolences and sympathies,
    Lyle and Diana Rowe
    Starland County, AB

  18. On 06/01/2012 at 6:20 pm Keith Irving Said:

    Gwyn and family,

    Rick inspired us.

    He inspired us all to to care about our community,
    He inspired us all to look for the good in people,
    He inspired us all to serve our neighbors,
    He inspired us all to work hard,
    He inspired us all to be self-less,
    He inspired us all to be good friends,
    He inspired us all to work together,
    He inspired us all to laugh,
    He inspired us all in the meaning of family,
    he inspired us all to love,

    No, I’m wrong, the tense is wrong, … he inspires us in so many ways, today, tomorrow and beyond.

    Rick Butler, a truely fine man. A man that we will all miss, but he will continue to inspire.

    Keith Irving
    Wolfville, NS

    Former Councillor, Iqaluit, NU
    Councillor Wolfville, NS

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