William Buthorn III
William Buthorn III
William Buthorn III
William Buthorn III

Obituary of William Buthorn III

It was a heavenly day on September 14, 1948, when Bill Buthorn was born to William and Laura Buthorn in Grand Junction, Colorado.  


Telling stories about growing up on the farm with his brother, Don, and sister, Alice, brought joy to Bill.  He loved his childhood days, attending schools in Grand Junction, and just being a kid --  riding his bike, playing baseball in the field with all the neighbors, driving the tractor, playing with his cousins, hunting ducks and pheasants, participating in little league and high school sports, being in the drama and music programs, helping his mom and dad at the family hotel (The LaCourt), and attending summer camps with his family and friends at Saint Matthew’s Episcopal Church. 


He would tell anyone who would listen that he had the best childhood ever.  Two highlights: (1) Picnics with his family in the Colorado “hills.”  Not your average picnic but steaks grilled, potatoes fried, fresh peaches, and the likes.  He soon learned the joy of outdoor cooking, which spurred an interest in all kinds of cooking.  (2) Meeting his friend, Phil Emerson, in kindergarten and remaining friends until the day he died. Phil brought him lots of entertainment throughout the years.  A true golf partner!


After high school graduation, his mother decided Bill needed to go to college.  Bill was surprised he needed to leave the comforts of home and Laura, being wise, told him he would go to Western Washington State College in Bellingham, where his cousin was attending.  Now this was 1967 and he was leaving quiet Grand Junction.  Bill would laugh about that time but would thank God daily because that is where he met his true love, Nancy Jessemey. They met in 1969 and never separated.  She couldn’t resist those blue eyes and that smile.  


While at college, Bill learned to play pool real well.  He honed up his golf game, too.  He was good enough to make the golf team.  However, he needed to get his grade point up because it was also Vietnam time.  With a draft number of #1, he was soon to be drafted. However, Nancy’s mom was working at Ft. Lewis and was able to pull some strings to get him in the Reserves.  He was assigned drill sergeant school and loved every minute of it. He reported for duty for several years.  


Bill and Nancy were married at St. Michael Catholic Church on December 23, 1972, in Olympia, Washington, where he became a member of the church and stayed until death.  The Buthorns completed their cute little family with son, Jess, and soon Andrew.  Both were the highlights of Bill’s life. He always said he grew up with the boys.  They enjoyed camping trips, visiting friends and relatives in Colorado and other places around the country, golfing, Y Indian Guides, basketball, house projects, etc.  Bill would do anything he could to be with the boys. He spent every minute with them that he could. He coached both boys’ YMCA basketball teams from second grade to eighth grade.  Still to this day, those kids on the team meant the world to him and they would come to see him often.  


Summer trips to Sunriver and winter trips to Hawaii were highlights for the family.  Plus, Bud and Laura lived in Seattle so going to Papa and Lala’s house was a treat.  Of course, Lala fixed first class meals and Papa had Husky tickets!  They lived by the Locks so beach life was at its finest.  


Bill was able to complete his college at St. Martin’s before the kids were born and then got a teaching degree at the University of Washington.  He taught school in Tenino for 30 years, being able to coach football and basketball.  He loved it all.  He was also part of the tech team after getting his master’s degree from Western Washington University (WWSC) and was able to help many staff and students learn to use the computer for the first time.  


He loved his days in Tenino because he loved the people.  He will forever be indebted to Hal Williams for hiring him and giving him free reign.  Bill would tell anyone how blessed he was to have had those years.  


Bill and Nancy were active at St. Michael Church.  Together they taught confirmation classes, marriage prep, served on building projects and, for the last six years, served on Fr. Jim’s ALS support team.  They were also involved in many small groups, which brought new friends and new commitments to their faith. Together they served as members of the St. Vincent de Paul conference, assisting the needy of Thurston County.  They also served with the Olympia Host Lions group, finding many ways to serve community members. Here Bill was loved and met many friends, and held many offices throughout the years.    


After retiring in 2009, Bill and Nancy traveled with their best buddy, Fr. Jim Lee, to many parts of Europe on various pilgrimages that Fr. Jim planned.  Once again, a true blessing.  Bill and Nancy bought a home in Buckeye, Arizona, for a winter hideaway.  Here they opened the door to many and Bill was able to cook and welcome any and all.  They met many friends in Arizona that remained by his side until the day he died. Lots of golf was played.  Lots of dinners were served.  Lots of guests were welcomed.  Lots of wine etc. was poured. In the later years, many family members lived close by so he was able to play with the relatives that he adored.  The last few years brought great-great-nieces and a nephew down South.  What a treat for Bill. 


Many days were spent working out with good friends at Olympia Personal Training Center with David, their trainer.  Of course, good friends equals wine tasting, so many days following training included the wine.  The people Bill and Nancy met at the center are part of their Olympia family and they loved Bill to the end. 


Besides family, friends, golf, cooking, reading, gardening, teaching, and history, Bill loved to snorkel, hence the trips to Hawaii.  Bill and Nancy celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Hawaii just three months before he was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma.  He was happiest in the water.  What a blessing that trip was for them since Bill’s brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Mike and Gin, joined in the fun, adding much joy to the celebration.  


Jess sums up his dad as “A man of thought, contemplating the world around him.”  Bill will be missed by anyone who knew him.  His eyes sparkled and his smile was catchy.  If he knew something, he would share it with you.  If you needed to learn something, he would teach you.  As an apron says that was given to him by his sister-in-law, Kathy Jo, said, “What I do…I drink, I cook, and I know things.”  We will miss all those things!  As Nancy says, “I am a better person for knowing Bill.”


Bill passed away March 9, 2024, at home in Olympia, Washington, surrounded by family members.  He leaves behind his beloved wife, Nancy; son, Jess; brother, Don (Candace); sister, Alice (David), and sisters in-law, Linda (Al), Mary Lou (Dale), Gin (Mike) and Kathy Jo (Bob); and several nieces and nephews that he adored.  He was predeceased by his parents; his mother-in-law, Lucille Chambers; and son, Andrew, who preceded him in death in 2017.


He loved the Lord and was ever so thankful for the parish life and friends at St. Michael, especially the priests.  Until his dying day, he always said, “Don’t feel sorry for me.  I have had a great life.”


A funeral mass will be celebrated Friday, May 10, 2024, 12:00 p.m. at St. Michael Catholic Church, 1208 11th Ave. SE, Olympia, WA 98501.


There will be a golf event and luncheon sponsored by the Olympia Host Lions Club on August 29, 2024, in honor of Andrew and Bill.  All proceeds will go to the Physical Therapy Scholarship Fund, where Andrew attended to receive his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. More information to follow. 


Memorial donations may be sent to: 

St. Vincent de Paul

℅ St. Michael Catholic Church 

PO Box 766

Olympia, WA 98507


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