Bill Butt.tif

June 9, 1931 - June 26, 2021

While the Cascade and Olympic mountains were out in their glory on June 26, 2021, our dear father, Bill Butt, summited the highest mountain. He turned 90 two and a half weeks before his death and died less than a month after our mother passed away.

Our father was born into a farming family in Brazil, IN on June 9, 1931. As a farm boy he would keep insects in his overall pockets. He discovered the word “entomology” on a high school exam and decided that was the career he wanted to pursue. He graduated from Purdue University in entomology and went on to become a world-renowned scientist, revolutionizing the world of entomology.

He worked for the USDA Agriculture Research Service in Beltsville, MD and Brownsville, TX then headed the USDA research station in Yakima, WA working to sterilize insect pests such as the codling moth. He worked on several projects around the world in countless places like Austria, Africa, Pakistan, Vietnam, Hungary, and Bangladesh to eradicate crop pests; he also developed alternative crops to opium poppy in Thailand.

Bill fell in love with

Vienna, Austria during his two years as director of the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency Entomology Lab from 1972-1974 where he worked with the mass production, sterilization, and transport of the tsetse fly and Mediterranean fruit fly. He returned to Vienna from 1988-1990 managing some of the agency’s international research programs.

He also established, developed, and directed the USDA Agriculture Research Service in Kearneysville, WV and the Nursery Crop Research Station at Tennessee State University in McMinnville, TN. Through the years he promoted women scientists and helped scientists from Eastern Europe defect to the US. He was a unique leader, mentor of many young scientists, strong believer in the role of science in advancing human well-being and understanding among the people nationally and internationally, and in cooperation among scientists. Bill published over 100 articles during his career.

Bill was an avid rock climber and hiker, having climbed all the major peaks in Washington, as well as climbing the Alps, and was an active member of the Central Washington Mountain Rescue team. Throughout his life he was a passionate traveler, reader, learner, history buff, tinkerer, and collector of anything historic.

He moved from Shepherdstown, WV to Seattle seven years ago to be with his family, living at University House Wallingford, which he thoroughly enjoyed. We were able to dote on him for the first time and he continued to share amazing stories about his life that we had never heard before, which in turn enriched our lives.

He fractured his spine on January 25, 2021. Up until that point he went to the gym every day to battle his Parkinson’s disease.

He is survived by his daughters Cynthia Butt (Richard Furlong) and Jayn (Karen) Goldsen, three grandchildren, Zoe Furlong, Tenaya Goldsen, and Bryce Goldsen, sister Mary Butts (Steve) Youtz, three generations of nieces and nephews, and countless friends and colleagues throughout the world. He was preceded in death by his parents Lloyd and Verna Butt, sister Louise (Hubert) Fagg, brother Virgil (Mary Jo) Butts, and his former wife, Carolyn Campbell.

In remembrance of Bill, please consider saving the bees by planting a bee garden and exploring the wonders of nature.

To plant a tree in memory of Bill Butt as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.


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