WOODBURY — Residents of Woodbury from all walks of life came to a memorial service on Sunday, Jan. 6, for recently departed First Selectman Bill Butterly.
In line to pay their respects were members of the FIre Department, town officials, Woodbury Ambulance Association employees and members of the Nonnewaug High School Future Farmers of America, among many, many others.
The Old Town Hall was filled with people sharing stories about Butterly. A line of people looking to give their condolences to the family stretched outside, across the street and down to the corner of Mountain Road and Main Street.
“This is a slice of Woodbury, a diverse group of people came here from all walks of the town,” said Jennifer Miller, director of the Parks and Recreation Department.
Miller said that Butterly was a “wonderful man” who will be “sorely missed” on both a personal and professional level.
“He was a very supportive gentleman, supportive of all town employees,” Miller said. “We will truly miss him and his leadership.”
Miller noted that Butterly was very proud of work done with What’s On in Woodbury (the WOW Committee), creating a vision of a “Wonderful Woodbury” by organizing events like the Fall Festival and Restaurant Week.
Butterly died in the early hours of Saturday, Dec. 29. He was the second oldest of six children from a Watertown family. He was predeceased by a brother, Brian, and is survived by brothers Barry, Sean and Charles and a sister, Judy Schmaling. He had just begun serving a third term as Woodbury’s First Selectman. Prior, he had served on the Board of Finance, first as a member, then as chairman. He was living in Woodbury with his wife of 50 years, Judy Butterly.
Fellow Selectman Barbara Perkinson, who stepped up into the First Selectman position following Butterly’s passing, said that he was a “true advocate for Woodbury.”
“He will be missed greatly,” Perkinson said. “He’s done so much. We’re indebted for his dedication to us.”
Bud Neal, owner of Neal Tree Service and a member of the Fire Department, said that Butterly was an “inspiration and a leader and a true friend.”
Sean Butterly of Watertown characterized his brother Bill as a “Great Watertownian who transplanted to Woodbury and went on to do more great things.”
Sean said his brother had deep small town roots, starting at the age of 12 working for their father at the family coffee shop, and being so dedicated at a young age that he was practically like a partner in the business.
“Few people loved small town life like he did,” said Sean, who credited his brother with a “bulldog tenacity” that allowed him to get things done, such as the purchase and building of Crestbrook Park Golf Course in Watertown while serving on Watertown’s Town Council.
“That was the best thing that happened for area parks,” said Sean. “My brother’s Town Council got things done.”
Sean said that his brother also had a “big impact” in Hartford despite only serving one term as State Representative in the 76th District.
He said that when Bill became First Selectman in 2013 at age 70, he treated every day he served like it was Game Seven in the World Series and loved working on projects with “all the nice people of Woodbury.”
Being Woodbury’s First Selectman was Bill’s dream, according to Sean. “He once told me – ‘You forget to dream sometimes when you get older… I got my dream.'”