Mark Stanton Butcher, a loving husband, devoted father, proud veteran, and lifelong nurse and emergency medic, left us on April 12, aged 71.
Born February 28, 1952, in San Antonio, Mark grew up in a military household with two brothers, Bob and Steve. His father, Boyd Butcher, was a U.S. Air Force veteran. Mark, influenced by father-in-law, Dan Smith, and his own father, chose to follow in their footsteps with a United States Army career, enlisting at 19 and taking a path toward medicine as an Operating Room Technician.
At church, Mark met Lisa, the love of his life. They were inseparable from the day they first encountered each other. One year after Mark began his military service, he married Lisa, who would follow him everywhere from that day forward. Their adventures took Mark and Lisa as far as South Korea, where they lived for a time as Mark worked his way up through the military ranks. Together, they went to university, where Mark earned his Nursing degree while remaining active in the U.S. Army Reserve. He felt the call of duty pulling strongly, and he returned to the Army as an officer, now a fully-trained Operating Room (OR) Nurse.
It was apparent that service in the OR was Mark's calling, and he remained in the medical field the rest of his life. Besides South Korea, Mark's distinguished service took him to Germany during Operation Desert Shield, as allied forces repelled the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Among his many achievements, Mark was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (LTC). The later half of his Army career took him to the Dallas V.A. Hospital, where he provided outstanding care for America's veterans until his retirement in 2001.
Throughout his service, Mark found time to raise a family, which was always his first priority. Together with Lisa, he raised three children: Brion, Patrick, and Melissa. Mark gushed over his children's accomplishments, and his pride in them was apparent to all who knew him. He truly believed that his kids are some of the best people in the world. He devoted himself to bringing them up with love and encouragement, striving to tell them regularly how proud he was of them and their accomplishments.
Retirement from active duty was hardly the end of Mark's devotion to caring for others. As their children grew up and moved out, the couple decided to take their nursing skills on a nationwide tour. Mark and Lisa loaded their truck and hit the road as traveling nurses, utilizing their skills to provide important treatments and save lives from coast to coast. Mark truly loved that opportunity, as he got to see new places and meet all kinds of interesting people. He was known and beloved for his genial bedside manner. Mark's easy-going sense of humor helped put patients at ease, such as when he assured them that everything would be alright, even with a "Butcher in the Operating Room."
Their nursing travels also allowed Mark and Lisa to save up for their dream retirement home. They built a cabin-styled house in Cloudcroft, a tiny town high in New Mexico's Sacramento Mountains. There, they created a quiet and comfortable retreat for themselves and any visitors brave enough to scale the narrow, twisting, and unpaved roads that led to the driveway. They quickly established themselves as pillars of the community, making friends with just about everyone on the mountain, and continuing their health care careers as volunteer emergency medics in nearby Mayhill. Mark also joined the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, No. 11999, and remained active there.
His Cloudcroft home also served as a self-curated museum to Mark's passions: books, cars, and aviation. Any visitor would be treated to his unrivaled collections: thousands of books, some very rare and out of print; automobile and aircraft models, ranging from Matchbox and Hot Wheels toys to more detailed scale kits; and a variety of posters from famous auto races of the 20th Century. Mark was well-known in some circles as an amateur historian of the Chaparral Cars racing team and engineering group that transformed American auto racing. So deep was his passion for these distinctive cars, he could recite from memory a bewildering trove of statistics, specifications, and race results. He was quite literally a living encyclopedia of Chaparral racing.
In late 2022, Mark and Lisa relocated from their New Mexico retreat, along with Mark's beloved dog Boomer, to Madison, Wisconsin. In January 2023, Mark and Lisa celebrated 50 wonderful years of marriage.
Mark will be remembered as a man of great kindness, generosity, and joviality. He was always eager to bring a smile to the faces of friends and family, and it could be said he "never met a stranger." He was always sure to remind loved ones as they parted or finished a phone call: "I love you, and be safe."
Mark is survived by his wife, Lisa; his children, Brion, Patrick, and Melissa; his grandchildren, Chloe, Erin, Taylor, Abigail, and Graham; his brothers, Bob and Steve; and his sister-in-law, Patricia.
A celebration of life will be held on June 12 in Madison, Wisconsin.