Eight Bells for Stanley Butchart
The Pacific Northwest boating community lost one of its shining stars on March 20, 2020. Stanley (Stan) Vint Butchart Jr. of Burien, Washington, passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by his family following a long battle with pancreatic cancer and congestive heart failure. He was 94.
He was known to his family as “Grumpy,” but he was anything but that. He was a super cool guy when men his age were supposed to be grumpy old men. I met Stan when he was in his 70s and still skiing over 150 days out of the year. We met at Whidbey Island Race Week where Stan and his wife Joyce were part of our close-knit Race Committee team.
Stan was always on flags because the position required someone who was not only a good listener, but whose demeanor could keep an otherwise frenzied Race Committee team quite calm. He loved doing Race Committee, and in addition to Whidbey Island Race Week, he was a regular Race Committee volunteer at Corinthian Yacht Club in Seattle.
In addition to Race Committee, he was a helluva sailor. For those racing Duck Dodge during the summer months on Lake Union, chances are you spotted Stan sailing his beloved 25’ Polaris. He loved the camaraderie and missed only a handful of Duck Dodge races. At one time he also raced a Hobie 16 with his best friend, Merv Eaton. “It was pure joy for him,” shared Stan’s son Larry Butchart, longtime employee at Fisheries Supply in Seattle. “They didn’t win much, but oh, did they have fun!”
In his 70s, he was racing on the Olson 30 Road Runner with his very good friend, John Hoag. The story goes that John once asked Stan, “To call those waves behind us, so we can surf down the big one.” Stan calmly but loudly replied, “If you want me to call the waves, you’re going to have to slow down!” Hoag is said to have bought a S2 9.1 Chinook a few years ago just so he could continue sailing with Stan, who was on board almost every Thursday night for the Three Tree Point races right up until his medical setback last August.
“You can’t just talk about a few things you’ll miss about Dad,” noted Larry. “It’s the whole package. Things like that great big smile, and the funny smirk he would make behind my Mom’s back. The way he loved talking about airplanes and sailing, and his attitude that no situation was the end of the world. He wasn’t just my Dad, he was my best friend.”
Stan’s impact on others was immeasurable and he created a tight knit team of sailboat racers who also saw Stan as a father figure. Several of the 1D35 Shrek crew – John Hoag, Paul Carter, and Bob Combie, who lost their dads at an early age looked to Stan to fill the void.
Stan was born in Prosser, Washington, and he was one of three Stan Butcharts in the family named after his Father. The third Stan Butchart was his cousin, the famous NASA test pilot and, “the only reason I ever wanted to go to the family reunions,” joked Larry Butchart. He grew up on a farm and it wasn’t until he reached school age that he realized his name was Stan as everyone in the family called him, Junior. After graduating from Kittitas High School, he served in the Army medical corps during the Korean conflict and was stationed in Germany. His love for aviation took him to Boeing, where he worked for 39 years. In June of 1954, he married Joyce Hitt and last year, they celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.
I remember a conversation with Stan at Race Week years ago on the back deck of YC5, the Race Committee belonging to Corinthian Yacht Club, where I suggested that he was the modern-day Renaissance Man. “Oh that,” he replied with a twinkle in his eye and a rum cocktail in his hand. “I just like to stay active.”
And active he was. In addition to sailing and racing, he was an avid skier, and owned and operated the former Swuak Ski Bowl on Blewett Pass. He was a mountain climber, avid hiker, member of the Mountain Rescue Council, a boat builder, gardener (and famous for growing corn and tomatoes), a square dancer, a father, a grandfather and a great-grandfather. He is survived by his wife Joyce Butchart, two married sons Richard (Denece) and Larry (Janet) Butchart, seven grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren.
“Right now, we’re just glad the suffering is over,” added Larry. “But come summer, when we all start racing again, we are really going to miss him.” Though Stan Butchart reached the end of his watch, the impact he had on those he touched will carry on. There may have been three Stan Butcharts in the family, but only one Junior.