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In Memory: John James Butler, Age 93

Obituary - John James ButlerJohn James Butler died peacefully on December 14, 2023 at his home in Rye with his family lovingly by his side. He was 93 years old.

Jack, as he was better known, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 18, 1930, the son of Mary Kate Moffett Butler and Martin Michael Butler. After a time in New York City, Jack and his family moved to Rye in 1942. Jack attended Catholic school his whole life, and for high school, he chose to commute by train to Cardinal Hayes High School for Boys in the Bronx.

After graduating from Cardinal Hayes, Jack joined the United States Marines and served in the Korean War. He was stationed in the Republic of the Marshall Islands for the duration of the war, where he served as a military police officer with a security detail for the atomic bomb tests. Upon his return home, Jack entered Iona College and married the love of his life, Theresa Fanella of Harrison.

Throughout high school and college, Jack worked after school with his father in their produce shop on Purchase Street. It was this experience that would ultimately propel him into the grocery business. After graduating from Iona College with a degree in business, Jack went to work for Grand Union, starting as an auditor to the manager in their Rye location. Jack worked his way up to sales manager for Grand Union’s Connecticut division, where he spearheaded the opening of 22 new locations. After leaving Grand Union, Jack served in a similar capacity at Daitch Shopwell.

Yearning to make his own mark in his industry, Jack followed the lead of his brother, Martin (Marty) Butler, who had recently opened a grocery store on Purchase Street in Rye called Butler Brothers. In 1969, Jack bought a grocery store and adjacent meat market in Harrison and opened his own Butler Brothers, which quickly became popular for its quality and convenience. Butler Brothers was a fixture on Halstead Avenue for 30 years. The Butler Brothers stores were among the first truly gourmet grocers in Westchester County.

Jack was a member of a well-known Rye family. His brother Marty served as a Rye City Councilman. Jack’s brother Tommy was also a Rye City Councilman and was a partner of a Rye law firm. Jack’s siblings and children, similarly blessed with tenacity and the entrepreneurial spirit, owned and operated prominent businesses in and around Rye—Kevin Butler and his wife Barbara owned Rags, Margaret Butler owned High Gear, Marty Butler and his wife Karen owned Butler Brothers and the Rye Village Market; Brian Butler owned The Marketplace of Harrison and ran a successful catering business; and Jacqueline Johnston and her husband John owned Crisfields Prime Meats for over 40 years.

Jack was a humble and generous person. When younger brother Timothy needed a kidney in the very early years of transplants, Jack did not hesitate to give him one of his. Sadly, the transplant could not prevent Timothy’s early death, but Jack never lost faith. Jack loved God, his family and his country. A devout Catholic, Jack was a parishioner at the Church of the Resurrection for his entire life.

Jack was happiest when spending warm summer afternoons with his wife, children and grandchildren by the pool and gardens in his back yard.

Jack is survived by Theresa, his loving wife of 71 years, their children, Jacqueline Johnston (John) of Harrison, Brian Butler of Rye, Terese Bisconti (Robert) of Bronxville, Kathleen Brown (Curtis) of Carmel Valley, California, Patrick (Debra) of Ridgefield, Connecticut, and Timothy (Christina) of South Salem, New York. He is also survived by his brother, Kevin Butler (Barbara) of Rye, 14 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Jack was preceded in death by his siblings, Timothy, Marty, Margaret and Tommy.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at the Church of the Resurrection on Monday, December 18, 2023 at 11:00 A.M. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jack’s memory to Cardinal Hayes High School, 650 Grand Concourse, Bronx, New York 10451.

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