Betty W. Butler, 83, of Fair Haven, died Saturday, April 29 surrounded by her loving family and friends.
Born Betty Ann Wheeling in Long Branch (track star and graduate of Long Branch High School), Betty lived most of her adult life in Rumson. A scholarship student, she attended Douglass College-Rutgers University where she received her degree with a zoology and biology split major, as close to a pre-med as she could get at the time she would say. She met and married Elliott Butler and they raised three children. They remained married until his death in 2018.
Extraordinarily generous and kind, Betty was unflinching in her defense of those animals and people who needed help. Whether it was Exxon Mobil, a public utility or an errant hunter, she believed right was might and took them on.
Rehabilitating injured waterfowl (specifically swans and geese) Betty found her life’s work, documenting and fighting what she found to be gross misappropriation of public funds in the management of wildlife. Her work in this area over many years resulted most recently in her being honored by the national group, In Defense of Animals. The award will be renamed in her honor, the Betty Butler Goose Savior Award which helps to ensure that her work will continue.
Professionally Betty rehabbed buildings and managed real estate. For several years in the mid-70’s she owned The Village Store in Sea Bright (1032 Ocean Avenue). Sporting an inventory of sturdy but inexpensive clothing for children and adults, it became a local gathering place, as kids tried on sneakers and adults grabbed a cup of coffee, pastry and gossip at the register.
Betty gardened, always with an eye to what the birds and animals would want to eat; she loved to walk the beaches of Sandy Hook, Sea Bright and Long Branch. Mostly she loved her family, friends and animals fiercely. In addition to her life-long friend Suzanne Parmly, in her last years she found new connections with her numerous caregivers who join the Butler family in mourning her loss.
Betty is predeceased by her loving husband, Elliott Butler and daughter Loren Butler Feffer. She is survived by her daughter Pamela Butler and her husband Kim Deitch; her son Edward Butler and spouse Jennifer Savage, all of Manhattan; and her brother John Frank Wheeling, Jr. of Florida, her cousin Judith Cox and as well as her five cats and 2 grandkids.
In lieu of flowers donations to In Defense of Animals can be made in Betty’s name at www.idausa.org or to the Boys and Girls Club of Red Bank (bgcmonmouth.org).