Cover photo for William Sherman Butcher's Obituary
William Sherman Butcher Profile Photo
1922 William 2013

William Sherman Butcher

January 26, 1922 — December 5, 2013

William Sherman Butcher, PhD passed away on December 5, 2013 in Concord, MA at age 91. He died peacefully at home, surrounded by loving caregivers, after a long battle with Parkinson's. Born January 26, 1922 in Cambridge, MA, the son of the late William Laramy and Annie Dean (Sherman) Butcher and brother to the late Marion Clarke, he graduated from Belmont Hill, Harvard University, and received his doctorate from the Scripps Institution.

Bill had a life-long love of the ocean. He earned his PhD in Oceanography and published on both marine geology and oceanic bird distribution. Despite his general disinterest in swimming, he loved boats and built and skippered many. He bareboat chartered in waters from Tahiti to Maine and was ship's officer and researcher on surface vessels and submarines out of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) and Scripps. He shared his love of sailing with family and friends and passed many an evening at anchor with spirited games of four-handed cribbage. Bill was also a patient teacher and mentor, educating others on everything from SONAR at WHOI, Geology at the University of Wisconsin, to General Science, Physics, and Chemistry at Stoneham High and Concord Academy. As much as he liked the sea, Bill also enjoyed his water in crystalline form: he was an avid cross-country skier. He trained with the 10th Mountain Division in Colorado at the start of WWII, founded SCIA (a cross-country ski business ahead of it's time), and worked with Dovre Ski Binding and Volvo of America on their Nordic ski markets. He wrote "Waxing for Cross Country Skiing" which made the complex science of ski wax and snow crystals easily accessible to the curious skier. Bill was also a frequent traveler, visiting Stonehenge as a child and traveling widely as an adult to Kenya, Iran, New Zealand, Tahiti, Norway, Switzerland, and the Galapagos Islands. He was an avid student of languages, with facility in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Danish, Swedish, and Russian. Bill lived most of his adult life in Concord, MA and believed deeply in civic engagement. He was, at various times, volunteer President of the Brooks School in Concord, Concord/Carlisle AFS International Scholarships, and Alcott-Ripley Parent Teachers Association. He also served on the Concord Board of Health, gracefully navigating charged community issues such as odiferous pig farms and low-slung cheese displays. He was a long-time member of the Concord Players, serving as Treasurer, producer, and stage-crew. Bill was a member of the American Geophysical Union, Society of the Sigma Xi, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He will be remembered as a generous, kind-hearted teacher, businessman, and mentor to many.

He is survived by his son Jonathan B. Butcher, his wife Helen Frady of Carrboro, NC; his son Benjamin S. Butcher of Boston, MA; and his daughter Amy L. Butcher of San Francisco, CA. He was the loving grandfather (known simply as "Man") to Lucy Butcher of Carrboro, NC; the former husband of Patricia (Butcher) Till; and also leaves behind many beloved cousins, nieces, and nephews. The family wishes to extend a heartfelt thanks to all those who helped care for their Da in this last stage.

Family and friends are invited to celebrate Bill's life at a memorial service on Saturday January 25, 2014 at 1:00 pm at First Parish of Concord, 20 Lexington Road, Concord, MA with a reception to follow in the church hall. Interment at Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA will be private.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Bill's honor to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, Grand Central Station, P.O. Box 4777, New York, NY 10163

Arrangements under the care of Concord Funeral Home, Concord. A Life Celebration Home ®

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, January 25, 2014

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Eastern time)


20 Lexington Rd, Concord, MA 01742

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