Kennth David Butler (“Gig”), of Duluth, Minnesota, died on August 8, 2023 after a brief illness. He was an extraordinary Dad, a proud veteran, an accomplished attorney, and a devoted husband to his wife of 52 years.
Ken was born on August 5, 1946 in Cloquet, MN to Dr. John and Sheila Butler. He attended the University of Minnesota where he met his wife, Mary Sue Challas Butler. Promptly after graduating in 1968, Ken was drafted to Vietnam and served with the 4/9 (Manchu), 25th Inf. Division as an RTO with Bravo Company. Since 2011, he convened annually with fellow Manchu heroes and sometimes shared with his loved ones the stories that wrought their bond.
In 1973, Ken graduated from the Saint Louis University School of Law where he was on the law journal. He subsequently established a law career in Duluth and started his own solo practice in 2000. Ken was a talented writer who specialized in succinct legal briefs and excelled at attracting and solving absurd legal issues. He was a member of the Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Federal Bar Associations, and at one point served as President of the St. Louis County Trial Attorneys Association, President of the St. Louis County Volunteer Attorneys Association, and Chairman of the Minnesota Client Security Board. He also regularly volunteered with the Minnesota-Assistance Council for Veterans and the Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota. He was the 1985 Volunteer Attorney of the Year and a Minnesota Super Lawyer for several years running. He and his unparalleled paralegal and friend, Pam Fifield, were a force to be reckoned with until just days before he got sick.
Ken adored his two children, Joseph (Tammie McDonald) Butler and Molly (Cooper) Hanning. He had a sharp mind, a quick wit, and a quirky sense of humor that made his son shake his head and his daughter laugh. He encouraged his children to stand up for themselves and for others, and modeled a commitment to community service through volunteerism and pro-bono legal work. Over the years, he served on the Bentleyville Board of Directors, Duluth Airport Authority Board, Goodwill Industries of Duluth Board of Directors, St. Louis County Civil Service Commission, Duluth Superior Transportation Commission, Northland Vietnam Veterans Association, Sexual Misconduct Investigation Committee for the Diocese of Duluth, and the Three Lakes Development Association. He was also an Eagle Scout and very proud when his son achieved the same honor.
Along with his wife and children, Ken is survived by his siblings, Tom Butler and Sheila Doran, cherished grandchildren, Gus and Maida Hanning, many nieces and nephews, and his beloved rescue poodle, Angel. His parents, brothers Bill and John, and a parade of well-groomed dogs preceded him in death and certainly embraced him with great joy and sniffs. In lieu of flowers, please share a nice dinner with your family in Ken’s honor, or consider a donation to the Vietnam Manchu Association, c/o Bob Lannon, Treasurer, 3868 W. County Road 350 N. Danville, IN 46122.
VISITATION: Monday, August 21st from 5:00 pm-7:00 p.m. in Dougherty Funeral Home, 600 E Second Street, Duluth, MN.
FUNERAL: Mass of Christian Burial on Tuesday, August 22nd at 1:00 p.m. in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, 2801 E 4th St, Duluth, MN 55812, preceded by visitation at noon. Interment at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.