I would like to thank everyone for attending today to celebrate the life of my husband Dan and I know that if Dan were here that he would be very happy to see everyone who came. I want to share with all of you this message which is in
honor of my sweet, handsome, and fun-loving husband Dan Butler. He is my other half, my soul-mate, and my best friend. The best years of my life have been spent with this remarkable man of God whom I am so proud to call my husband. Dan, when God made you “He
broke the mold” as my grandma would say.
I have decided not to write this message as if Dan were “just in the
past tense”. He lives on in my heart and in all of our hearts forever. I believe that Dan is merely continuing on with his journey. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:1 that a “great cloud of witnesses” surrounds us. Some of these witnesses
may be angels who record every detail of our lives, but others may be some of our loved ones who may continue to watch over us.
Dan and I were never people who did things according to normal traditions. We always did things our own way
and in the ways that felt right to our hearts as long as what we did lined up with the truths found in the Bible. I think that this is what attracted me to Dan from the very beginning since I could see that he was his own man who did things his own way. He
was always determined to do things the right way even if it meant standing against the popular tide or popular opinion. What I loved most about him was his sincere desire to help others and to bring honor to God. Dan’s brave and gutty spirit to live
out this aspiration is something that I will always admire and it basically swept me off my feet.
One of my favorite things about my husband was his willingness to “say things like it is.” Dan had a special gift for being very
honest and transparent about problems he had been through and therefore he was able to help many people who faced similar situations to himself. At one point in Dan’s life, he hit his bottom. It was God’s way of telling him, “Dan, you can’t
go any lower and you need Me. You have to stop pretending you can go it alone. Let Me in and I’ll show the way.” From that point onward, Dan let go of the alcohol that was ruining his life and started making an upward climb. Along that journey,
he has helped inspire many others to stay sober and strive to live honest and God-honoring lives. Through the grace and power of God, he had remained sober for 38 years. I couldn’t be more proud of such an amazing and incredible accomplishment. In honor
of this mission that was laid on Dan’s heart to help others who were struggling with addictions and other similar problems, I’d like to share a gospel song by one of Dan’s favorite singers, Hank Williams Sr., called “Are You Walking
and Talking for the Lord?” This song tells us that nothing is hidden from God’s sight and He knows if we have truly turned from our old ways of darkness and are now walking in God’s pure light.
After this major life-changing event when Dan turned away from alcohol and truly decided
to walk with the Lord, Dan wanted to make up for his past and asked God to use him in any ways He could. Not long after this, Dan left his jobs working in factories and started the true calling of his life which was working as a police officer. He began working
as a police officer at Princeton University in New Jersey and stayed there for a number of years. He then went on to work as a Department of Defense federal police officer at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey and worked there for over twenty years. What I admired
most about Dan being a police officer is that he was not the kind of policeman who wanted to impress others with how many speeding tickets he could write or with how quick he could climb to the top of the police department chain of command. Instead, Dan was
most satisfied and happy about honestly doing what he knew a police officer was truly meant to be doing. Dan was forever on the lookout to do things like help an old woman who needed a hand, help a child who was suffering from some form of abuse, or help protect
the community by keeping it safe from drugs or criminal activities. The stories concerning all of Dan’s selfless efforts and heroic deeds could all be compiled into a huge book, but I don’t think he would want me to carry on and on about it. He
knows, I know, his fellow police officers know, and God knows the great acts he did in countless ways and that is all that matters.
Not only is Dan known for having a kind, selfless, and caring heart, but he is also known as a wonderful
and very humorous storyteller. He has countless wild and funny tales about his days of working at Fort Monmouth, but some of the funniest stories I’ve ever heard came from his years of working at Princeton University. One thing about Dan is that he’s
been fairly oblivious about various celebrities. An example of this was when he told about the time that he was having a beer next to Jon Bon Jovi at a bar. Dan had no idea who Bon Jovi even was until Jon explained to Dan about the famous band that he was
in. The same sort of thing happened when Dan was working at Princeton and at the time Dan had no idea who Michael Jackson was. One day Michael Jackson arrived at Princeton University since he wanted to visit Brooke Shields who was attending the university.
Dan greeted Michael but thought that this rather strange looking person had no business to bother Miss Shields. Dan then basically told Michael Jackson to leave the campus and get lost. It wasn’t until later when the chief of police at Princeton questioned
Dan and asked if he had thrown Michael Jackson off of the campus. Dan then gave a description of the young man who wanted to visit Miss Shields and said that there was no one on his roster with the name of Michael Jackson who had permission to visit her. After
hearing the description, the police chief shook his head and exclaimed something like “Dan, you actually have never heard of Michael Jackson and you honestly threw him off campus?!!” Later on, after Dan learned about Michael Jackson’s celebrity
status and had an opportunity to listen to some of his music, I think Dan was actually glad that he had the opportunity to tell Michael Jackson to “Beat it”!
On a more serious note, the one thing I had never asked Dan about were the years when he served as a soldier in the Vietnam War. I figured that this was a private and difficult period of his life and I never
wanted to bring up such a rough and tragic time. Dan has always been a brave and heroic man, and this is another area where I am very proud of him for having to endure this difficult time out of service and dedication to his country. Since Dan and I both served
in the Military, we would sometimes enjoy having conversations about our years in the Army and sharing about some of the many unforgettable and interesting experiences we had there.
The richest and happiest years of my life have been spent
with my wonderful husband Dan who has been the love of my life. We have been married for 27 incredible years and I can’t imagine my life of not having him by my side but I am so thankful that God has given me this special man to love and treasure. We
have both always been such deep thinking people which had made us bond so closely especially since we share the same strong values. We both share a very deep passion for the things of God and treasure the teachings in God’s word above all else. We also
both have some pretty crazy and silly sides to our personalities which have helped to keep us positive and balanced. We would never pass each other by without sharing a hug, and saying “I love you” and to me, those are some of the greatest riches
that I could ever imagine. As a couple, we’ve always enjoyed the simple pleasures of life such as peaceful times having coffee and long conversations together far above seeking the luxuries of the world. Dan was a simple man with simple needs and lived
out what it teaches in I Timothy 6:6-11 which states - “godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that … Some people,
eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.” He knew that his true treasures were being built
up in heaven above. In honor of Dan’s desire to not focus on the treasures of this world but on the treasures in the next, I’d like to share a song by another one of Dan’s favorite singers, Johnny Cash, called “God has my fortune laid
Dan has also been a very
wonderful, caring, and loving father to his three children Donna, Shawn, and Laura throughout their lives. I always admired that Dan was never a pushy or demanding type of father but instead always strived to be patient and understanding with all of his children.
He deeply loved and cared about Shawn just the way he was despite all of the challenges and difficulties associated with autism. Dan’s good friend Jerry had just told me recently that when Shawn was little Dan had wondered to himself what he would ever
be able to teach Shawn and passed this concern on to one of Shawn’s teachers. The teacher had a wise reply and told Dan “Don’t worry about it, Shawn is going to be teaching you.” Laura and her dad always enjoyed each other’s
company so much and shared such a strong and special bond. I feel so blessed that Dan cared for his family above all things and helped in teaching his children to live God-honoring lives. I also love that Dan made sure to take time for his family and was always
there whenever they needed him. I feel so thankful that his children have so many fun and wonderful thoughts and memories of their dad that they will love and treasure forever.
Dan may have grown up in Massachusetts and lived in New Jersey
for decades as well, but his heart was always set on being a ‘westerner” from the time he was just a kid. Dan enjoyed western movies from the time of his youth and always dreamed of living out in the wide open spaces. When he first traveled with
me and saw the great openness of the west he could not get over the vastness of the land especially in comparison to the hectic crowded pace of the east coast that he had always known. He adapted so naturally to Nebraska and came to love the peaceful ways
of the west. One of Dan’s childhood dreams came true when we bought an acreage here in Nebraska after he retired. Dan always enjoyed target shooting and he fell in love with the idea of being able to target shoot with his friends and family right in
his own back yard. He said that the old fashioned charm of our home reminded him in so many ways of the fond memories he had in his grandmother’s home as a child. He also took up an interest in gardening and planted various fruit trees and bushes over
the years. Dan has really treasured being retired over the past twelve years in this beautiful country. During that time he has also enjoyed developing a deeper bond with all of his family here in Nebraska, growing new friendships, and appreciating this beautiful
state that he considers to be his true home.
We are spirit beings and therefore I feel quite confident that Dan is present with us in spirit here today. When we had to choose between having a formal type funeral service or a more personalized
memorial service we felt that a memorial service would be the more appropriate choice in order to honor Dan’s life. We wanted to personalize Dan’s service with the types of music that he truly enjoyed and hold it in a place that was full of some
of Dan’s favorite memories. Whenever we wanted to celebrate a graduation, anniversary, or some other important occasion we would always come here to Napoli’s reception room since it’s not only such a beautiful place, but the food always reminded
us of all of the delicious Italian restaurants that we used to enjoy when we lived in New Jersey. It’s a place where Shawn normally feels quite comfortable too and we wanted to make sure that Shawn would not be excluded from this important family event.
I will miss my husband so greatly. It’s been the most painful and difficult time in my life as I’ve had to watch my husband suffer through his terrible illness. I believe this experience has caused much of my hair to turn gray
and has brought me such brokenness and heartache. However, I also feel so tremendously honored to have had the opportunity to help him each day and be there for him whenever he needed me. It’s been a true privilege to share my life with Dan and to be
his dedicated wife for all these years. I feel so blessed and thankful that we built a loving and Christ-centered home together which has been a home full of respect, laughter, kindness, and understanding. We also deeply appreciated all of you who took the
time to come and visit, called up Dan on the phone, sent cards, or did whatever you could to help him out in any way possible. We all felt so blessed by this support and we thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts.
Dan will be deeply
missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. Despite this painful time, I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything. Even through the heartbreak and tears of this time, I thank the Lord for helping me to feel so much hope and comfort deep in my
heart. I am comforted to know that he was a man who knew, loved, and obeyed the Lord sincerely and had a true personal relationship with Him. We LOVE you Dan! Thank you for being such a tender, wise, and dear husband and father! Thank you also for sharing
your friendship and your beautiful and loving life with all of us! In honor of Dan’s dedication in walking with the Lord daily, I’d like to share another song by Johnny Cash called “This Train is Bound for Glory.”
God bless you my sweet honey and I love you forever! XXOO