Wayne T. Butler, 91, of Marblehead, died peacefully on October 23, 2022 with his family by his side, in the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home after battling Alzheimer’s disease for many years. Born on Oct. 9, 1931, to Emma Frances (Hammond) and Edward Royer Butler, he was the first of five children. Although born in Boston, Wayne was a “true Marbleheader,” having spent all of his life living in and giving back to the town he loved. He graduated from Marblehead High School in 1950, and earned his Bachelor’s degree from Boston University in the College of Business.
Wayne joined the Navy at a young age and served on board the USS Trout and USS Harder submarines. He ultimately served 20 years in the U.S. Naval Reserves, ending his career as a Lieutenant Commander. In 1958, Wayne married Susie Gangi of Waltham and together they raised three children. His father had established a boat-building business, E.R. Butler & Sons, which was passed to Wayne in the early 1960’s. Over the years, Wayne made and sold small wooden rowboats (known as prams) and an array of other wooden products including bookcases, mailboxes and his signature window boxes that graced many homes in Marblehead and beyond. Always a problem-solver and intrigued with new challenges, he eventually redesigned his business to focus on the ever-increasing demand for specialty packing crates for antique dealers and local manufacturing companies throughout the North Shore. Wayne loved history!
He was a consummate reader, had volumes of books, and especially enjoyed reading about WWII and the history of Marblehead. He also loved to travel, and made many trips to Europe and the Holy Lands, on his own and with family members, where he enjoyed sharing his vast knowledge of each country and its culture. Wayne nurtured a deep interest in archeology as well, and participated in many archeological digs in Israel, England, and the US. After he retired, Wayne’s love of Marblehead led him to volunteer at Abbott Hall where he served on, and led, the Historic Commission for several years. He earned the “Marblehead Forever” award for his work on organizing the vast array of physical objects and historical documents that had been donated to the town. Wayne also loved children! He was a caring father, and a doting grandfather. One of his favorite quotes, “A man never stands as tall as when he stoops to help a little boy.” was a motto he lived by.
His woodshop was papered with thank-you notes from Gerry School kindergarteners who took annual field trips to see his boat building in action. Neighborhood kids could count on a great story, and he was always there for his own kids, nurturing their passions and interests. As his nephew, Joshua, put it, Wayne’s “love language” was mentorship, and he excelled at it. Wayne had a strong faith and was an active member of the Old North Church throughout his life.
He is survived by his daughter Sandra Butler (Patrick Michael Dethridge) of Marblehead, his sons Robert Butler (Deede) of Wylie, TX, and Charles Butler of Marblehead; two grandchildren, Foster and Madisyn Butler of Wylie, TX; three brothers, Edward R. Butler, Jr. of Peabody and his family, David Butler of Danvers and his family, and Christopher Butler (Denia) of Marblehead and their family (his niece, Melissa Bronnenberg (Cory) of Marblehead and nephew, Joshua Butler (Christina) of Methuen were like grandchildren to him); as well as extended family members and friends. He is preceded in death by Susie, his loving wife of sixty-three years; and his sister, Margaret Withum.
Service Information: The family would like to thank the staff members at the Soldiers’ Home for the compassionate care they provided. A “Celebration of Life” memorial will be held this summer on July 8, 2023, at the Old North Church in Marblehead. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at eustisandcornellfuneralhome.com for the Butler family.