Robert Lance Butterfield, age 69, peacefully passed away on Thursday, May 19, 2022 in Grand Forks, ND.
Robert was born on October 2, 1952 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. He was the third son of Leo Norman and Irma Jean (Schindele) Butterfield. One more brother would round out the family where they lived on a small farm in Swatara, Minnesota during the 1950's and early 60's. When Robert was 9 years old, the family moved to Oak Grove, Oregon. Robert began an enterprising life there with a paper route and thus began an eventful life filled with endeavors in various places throughout this country. The family returned to Minnesota after the sudden death of his mother in 1963. After school in Barnum, MN, he worked at a number of occupations. One that was the most fulfilling and rewarding during that time was when he worked as a chef.
Later, he visited many places while driving across this country as a long-haul trucker working for Schneider National. He also operated a tour bus in and around Yellowstone National Park giving tours to countrymen and foreigners alike while expounding on the country's first national park and the beauty abounding in the area. He spent many evenings around the campfire telling tales and singing with the likes of Michael Montgomery Murphy in New Mexico as he worked on plans to open a dinner theater. Robert was a true cowboy at heart and always dressed to this lifestyle. He had even shared a story of when he had made his own clothing. There was one particular suit that he had made that was so cool and original that he was approached by someone that wanted to buy it. He always had an artistic mind with an eye for color and style. He could turn anything ordinary into something quite extraordinary.
Robert had a great love for horses. As a child he would practice standing on his horse while the horse was in motion. He shared how he aspired to maybe one day become a circus performer. He owned a ranch in Wyoming where he boarded over 95 horses. He was known as the “Horse Whisperer” in that area since he trained many of them to become show horses. While living in Wyoming, Robert also owned a restaurant where he worked for more than 25 years.
Robert later moved to Devils Lake, ND in September, 2007 to manage the Fireside Inn & Suites motel. It was there where he met both the Rhen and the Ginther families. When Lisa Ginther (daughter of Mitch and Carol Rhen) was introduced to Robert, there was an instant bond and connection between them. It was as if they had been the best of friends for many years. It was no surprise that her three children (Anna, Noah & Will) would gravitate towards Robert’s kind, loving and joyful demeanor. Robert continued to work at the Fireside Inn & Suites until he retired in July, 2012. At that time, Robert downsized to live a simpler life and moved to live with Dale, Lisa and their three children. He provided daycare for the two boys, teaching them so many things and taking them on many adventurous outings, until they were old enough to attend school full time. He was like a father and best friend to Lisa and a grandpa to the three children. He was such a blessing to the family in those 10 years that they claimed and “adopted” him as their own. During his time in Devils Lake, he met so many great people and friends that just adored him. Anyone who ever met him, would speak so highly of him on how he was always so positive, compassionate and giving in nature. He left a huge impression in the hearts of so many and there is no doubt he will be forever missed.
He was preceded in death by grandparents, both paternal and maternal, his parents, and nephew Casey. He is survived by his five siblings: John (Mary Ann), Gary (Susan), Chris, Rose Ann (Dave), and Brian (Sheila); numerous nephews and nieces, special friends: Dale, Lisa, Anna, Noah & Will Ginther, and Sherry DeMarais.