Jeffrey J. Butler, Okemos, Michigan, passed away Friday evening at his home surrounded by his family and friends after a valiant battle with ocular melanoma. His wife of 30 years is the former Rebecca Frick.
Born January 13, 1966, in Scranton, he was the son of the late Bruce E. and Mary Gene McDade Butler. Jeff was educated in Scranton schools and began his college education at St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. At the end of his first year, he and the college mutually agreed that he should continue his education elsewhere. He returned home and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English in 1987 from the University of Scranton. He took a “gap year” to travel and then enrolled in Western Michigan University, Cooley Law School. He earned his Juris Doctor in 1991.
After clerking for the Chief Judge of the Michigan Court of Appeals, Jeff spent nearly a decade with the Michigan Department of Attorney General, representing the Michigan Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and other Michigan agencies and government officials in all aspects of education law.
Thereafter he joined the law firm of LaPointe and Associates, P.C., in Okemos, Michigan where he specialized in school disability and special education law. He eventually became the principal owner of the firm, LaPointe and Butler, P.C. In 2017, Jeff joined Clark Hill. In July 2020, he began the Butler Law Group, PC where he continued to practice in the area of school disability, special education law, and civil rights matters, primarily devoting his practice to the representation of Michigan Schools. Jeff recently joined Thrun Law Firm to ensure the continuity of services to the clients he represented for the past eighteen years.
Jeff recently served as an Adjunct Professor at Grand Valley State University in the MA Education Leadership Program, where he taught special education law. Over the years, he also served as a Visiting Professor for Saginaw Valley State University, Northern Michigan University, Michigan State University, and Western Michigan University.
Jeff has also served on Boards for various charitable organizations, including Lansing Area Homeless Shelters and Special Olympics of Michigan.
Among his many accomplishments was his joint venture to recover, restore and return the famous lost “Betty Boards” concert recordings, holding the reputation of being some of the best live recordings in the genre, to their rightful owners —Betty Cantor-Jackson, the Grateful Dead and Warner Music Group — and, eventually, the masses. Jeff and others created the ABCD, LLC to embark upon and complete this mission. The members of ABCD estimate that more 1500 hours were spent getting the recordings back into the hands of the rightful owners. Their time included researching, traveling to gain possession of the recordings, and having each tape professionally restored and digitized. In 2016, the recordings were returned to the Grateful Dead Vault. Since then, there have been numerous Grateful Dead releases using recordings provided by ABCD. Each release credits and thanks ABCD for its assistance in providing the recordings.
Surviving are Jeff’s beloved children Brittany, Jeffrey, Jr. andSydney; siblings Ann Reese and husband, Brian; Bruce Butler and wife, Gina; Erin Butler Conner and husband, Christopher; Mary Gene Eagen and husband, Todd; Brian J. Butler and wife, Emily; nieces and nephews; aunt Ann Dwyer and numerous cousins. Also surviving are brothers-in-law Robert Frick and wife, Joni; and Bruce Frick.
Due to the current health crisis all attending are respectively asked to wear masks.
All attending the Mass are asked to go directly to the church.
The funeral will be Saturday with Mass of Christian burial to be celebrated at 10am in St. Paul’s Church, 1510 Penn Avenue, Scranton.
Relatives and friends may call on Friday 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Vanston and James Funeral Home, 1401 Ash Street, Scranton.
Jeff’s Funeral Mass will be livestreamed and may be viewed on the funeral home’s Facebook page.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Special Olympics at specialolympics.org in memory of Jeff.
Interment, private at the convenience of the family.
For directions, to share a memory or to leave your condolences for the family please visit www.vanstonandjames.com.
James C. Vlahakis
Please accept my condolences from afar. I was lucky enough to meet “Skippy” on a handful of occasions by and through his close friend Andy Acker. Skippy was a kind person, full of life and mischievous adventures. His work to help Betty Cantor-Jackson (along with Andy) was a true labor of love and an act of kindness where Skippy, Andy and others helped Betty obtain the compensation and credit she was entitled to.
-James Vlahakis (of Burr Ridge, Illinois by way of Lansing, Michigan)
Thinking of you all and sending some much love and prayers.
The Budash family
We are truly sorry for your loss and will keep your family in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time.
Consummate professional and advocate for students and educators always, Jeff was a great person who was full of personality and knowledge. He was a tremendous resource, and I learned a lot from him every time I was fortunate enough to work with or near him.
My deepest condolences to his family for their loss.
Jeff worked hard right up to the end to provide essential services to his law firm. He had supportive friends and family who helped him enjoy things he loved to do, continuing to make memories. His wife and children loved him and will miss him very much.
I am sad that he died so young. He fought till the end. Please cherish all of the memories you have of the good times spent enjoying Jeff.
So very sorry for your loss. I enjoyed working with Jeff and will miss his humor and laugh. He was definitely one of a kind. Prayers and comfort for all of his family and friends.
Bruce G. Frick
Our amazing well rounded brother in law will be missed. His impact on our culture and humanity was phenomenal!
I am so sorry to learn of Jeff’s passing. He was personable, super smart, had a great sense of humor-just an all around great guy. I met Jeff shortly after moving to Okemos several years ago. I was grabbing a burger at a local sports restaurant/bar and Jeff introduced himself to the “new guy.” I basically knew no one and I will always remember his efforts to welcome me. We nearly immediately engaged in discussions about intellectual property, music, local sports, and much more. Those discussions occurred regularly along with many other friends with all sorts of stories and laughter. I know I can speak for many of us in the Lansing area that he will be greatly missed.
Hahahahaha — I totally remember the “New Guy” phenomenon. Great seeing you last night.
Rebecca, Brittany,Jeffrey & Sydney,
Thank-you for sharing this incredible man with all of us these many years. I am honored to have had his counsel and friendship both professionally and personally. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.
“Believe in your heart that you’re meant to live a life full of passion, purpose, magic and miracles.”
I think this sums up our good friend Jeff very well. He was passionate about helping students who were disabled. We lost a great advocate. Thank you for a life well lived friend. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and colleagues throughout Michigan he has impacted.
Terry and Carol Brown
We will miss Jeff and his work to make this world a better place.
A life well lived and much too short.
Blessings to his family.
Jeff was an advocate for those with disabilities. I was fortunate to have him as a friend and mentor at Special Olympics Michigan. Thank you Jeff for your guidance and expertise. You were never too busy to assist when needed. I am very sorry for the loss of this incredible man. Prayers to his family and friends.
Jeff was a giant among men with a heart even larger. He was always about the kids…always. His family of Michigan Educators will miss the him greatly and always note the huge space his passing leaves.
John and Patrice Sadler
We were so terribly saddened to learn of Jeff’s passing. Our hearts and prayers pour out to Becky, Brittany, Jeffrey and Sydney at this time. Jeff will continue to inspire us by living life to the fullest. As the saying goes, “While alive, he lived.” Jeff embodied that to the fullest and it is such a blessing for the Lord to have placed him in our path. Our sons Jack and Ian join us in extending our deepest sympathy and most heartfelt condolences to all of Jeff’s family. Take care and God bless.
Jeff was a remarkable young man. His service to the Special Education community will never be forgotten. He will be sorely missed.
My condolences to his family.
God rest his soul.
Jeff is the best; a legend. He will be dearly missed on a daily basis, but in a great way.
Jeff always, always, ALWAYS, had a positive impact on anybody lucky enough to be in his presence and his good counsel over the years will always be appreciated.
“Party on, Rock Star!” Love to Rebecca, Jeff Jr., Brittany and Sydney
Thomas F. Higby
Regarding Jeffry Butler obiituary: I note that his mother is or was Mary Mcdade, the same as my great aunt Dr. Mary Kimball Mcdade, born about 150 years ago in Lenawee Cy. Mich. a UM grad in 1897, horse and buggy Dr. in northern Minn. about 1900. Would enjoy discussion of possible family connection.
Thomas F. Higby, M.D.
I’m so saddened to hear of his passing and send my condolences to the family. I was blessed to have Jeff as my teacher for special ed. law at GVSU. As a student, you can’t ask for anything better than learning from the BEST! However, I learned so much more than that from being in his class. He made class fun and took the time to make sure everyone understood the content. I was enrolled in his class when COVID hit and we had to quickly transition to online. He was so diligent in making sure the transition was smooth and spent time discussing the situation, emotions, etc. with all of us. He stressed the importance of taking care of ourselves and each other first and foremost. He was a great man and I am thankful that I had the opportunity to learn from him! He will be missed!
It’s difficult to capture Jeff’s life in a few words. He was a friend to all with a heart of gold. He was an accomplished attorney and truly a super hero to many of us. Jeff was a staunch advocate for children with disabilities, an entertaining teacher, and a role model. Jeff was small in stature but bigger than life itself. He fought so hard, inspired so many, and made the world a better place. I will miss him. My thoughts and prayers are with you Rebecca, Brittany, Jeff, and Sydney.
How deeply penetrating Jeff’s transition feels. What a wonderful professor and colleague. I will greatly miss his sound advisement, wit, and classic phrases. The only person I’ve encountered who could make a six hour law class fun. Jeff will be greatly missed and always remembered. A life well lived with purpose and integrity. My condolences to his family.
Ray and Anne Hayes Newman. Chris &Amy
To all the Butler family, there are no words to fill the sorrow in your hearts. We have been praying for Jeff since we knew of his struggles. As a cousin, I have not seen him in later years as much as I would have liked except at some family gatherings, happy and sad. The family can take great comfort in what a wonderful man Jeff was. Not only was he an accomplished lawyer and teacher but he put his whole heart and soul into helping children. You cannot ask for more than that. We are so sorry we could’t attend the funeral because of illness. Our hearts are so sad. Love you all.
My sincerest condolences to each of you. I will forever hold all the memories of Jeff near and dear to my heart ❤️
Carol La Pointe-Zastrow
Jeff will truly be missed by all you ever met him or had the special opportunity of listening to his wealth of knowledge about special education law. His quick wit and great sense of humor always added a lasting impression.
One particular memory: Jeff agreed to being the facilitator for our district for a due process case. At the time he was affiliated with the attorney law firm of LaPointe/Butler, our attorney’s last name was Butler and my name was La Pointe. The parent in this case thought we were all related.
Jeff made you feel that you were part of his family and always had kind words to share.
Please accept our condolences for your loss. His extended family will miss him greatly.
Jeff has left an indelible mark on special education in Michigan and individuals in the field beyond. I am grateful to have been connected with him early in my leadership career. I’ve learned so much and he will always be remembered in the continued fight for equity for all children! Grateful for his contributions.
Please accept my condolences on the passing of Jeff. I just found this. I remember moving him from his LaPointe/Butler law firm to Clark Hill, PLC. He was a wonderful asset to the Clark Hill Family.
So very sorry. Many good memories. Thoughts and prayers.
Love, Sue Baker
I went to law school with Jeff and we were neighbors/roommates for two years. He was a good guy. We we’re close back then. He was at the top of his class. It sounds like he had a very altruistic career in special education. I’m proud of him, using his brilliance to improve the lifes of the less fortunate. I’m sure it’s a tough loss for his family, clients and colleagues who worked with him everyday. Please accept my sincere condolences.