Earl “Butch” Butler, co-founder, president and CEO of Butler Amusements, passed away Dec. 21 at Kaiser Santa Clara (Calif.) Medical Center of health complications. Butler was 69.
His parents, George and Evelyn Butler, operated a game concession at festivals on the weekend, and Butler began helping them at 13 years old. He played varsity basketball at Austin (Minn.) High School, and married his high school sweetheart, Mary Lou. Butler moved from Minnesota to San Jose, Calif., in 1967.
In 1970, Butler founded Butler Amusements with his parents. Their first contracted fair was The Redwood Empire Fair in Ukiah, Calif., for which the company still provides the carnival. By 1975, the company was providing the carnival midway at more than 20 fairs. He served as president and CEO of the family owned and operated business.
Over the years, Butler’s company and family grew. He and Mary Lou had five daughters. Butler Amusements grew to the point it is providing the carnival for 34 fairs and over 80 other events annually.
Though he and Mary Lou divorced, she continues to work for Butler Amusements. Butler welcomed his first son in 1990.
At the Western Fairs Association’s 2005 convention, Butler was inducted into the WFA Hall of Fame. Over the years, Butler donated hundreds of thousand of dollars to local 4-H organizations and various charities.
In a statement, Butler’s family said, “He raised us in an industry that he truly loved and we will carry on the legacy.” They go on to state that Butler touched thousands of people’s lives. “We will be celebrating our father during this holiday season knowing he is now at peace.”
Continuing the family business tradition, Mick Brajevich, VP and unit manager of Butler Amusements and husband of Butler’s second-youngest daughter, will become CEO and president of the company. The incoming executive VP is Lance Moyer, current VP and unit manager, and husband of Butler’s youngest daughter.
He is survived by four daughters, Tami Quint, Kelley Butler, Kris Brajevich, and Jill Moyer, his son, Sean Butler-Murphy, 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, as well as his sister, Colleen Swank.
Contact: Andrea Owen, (707) 429-4788