Music 01

Franklin Fitch Butler

December 17, 1930 ~ July 29, 2020 (age 89)


Franklin Fitch Butler, an Ithacan since 1976, passed away July 29, 2020, in the loving care of the nurses and physicians at Cayuga Medical Center.

Son of Dorothy Faye Baird Butler and Stannard McLean Butler, he and his twin brother and buddy Bruce were born in Schenectady, NY on December 17, 1930, where they lived until going away to college. Frank earned undergraduate and master’s degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY where he met his wife-to-be, Janis Crystel Rollow. They married in 1959 and have lived, worked, and taught in NY State and Michigan.

Things, times, and people which gave Frank joy----Experiences as a student and on the stage crew at Interlochen’s National Music Camp in Michigan….Being a French hornist in the US Army Band, Fort Huachuca, AZ, a highlight of which was a plane trip to a “run-out-performance” when the pilot gave them a thrill by flying through the middle of the Grand Canyon!.... Summers spent working at a resort in the Adirondacks….Teaching and directing elementary and high school bands in NY State and Michigan….Introducing our son and daughter to the fun of camping in our Big Blue Tent…. Showing his collection of recorders to friends, and particularly to children—from the tiny garklein recorder to his hand made seven foot contrabass recorder….Organizing and teaching adult education recorder classes to introduce participants to the fun of playing music together….Arranging and transcribing music for various types of ensembles….Witnessing and hearing his transcription for French horn ensemble of the “Interlochen Theme” played by more than sixty horn alumni of Interlochen at the 100th Anniversary Celebration of its composer Howard Hanson’s birth….Founding with his friends the “Big Tooters” recorder ensemble of Central NY, comprised of professional and serious amateur performers of recorders and historic instruments….Training for more than a year for his successful swim across Cayuga Lake….Long distance trips to visit family. He liked the driving and the people and when at Grand Lake, OK, riding around the countryside on their “4-wheelers”…Driving daughter Laurel and her car to California when she and her string quartet re-located there…Driving to music conferences with his car full of instruments and music belonging to his music sales business “Pipe and Tabor”…. Repairing string instruments when working at Reuning and Son Violins….Being in Kyoto, Japan for his son Jim and Kayoko’s unforgettable wedding ceremony….Escorting Laurel down the aisle of their lovely church of her wedding day. He was quite moved….Pride in the accomplishments of his children, and the adults which they became….His many church-related friendships and activities which have so enriched his life.

Franklin is survived by his wife Janis; son, Jim Butler and daughter-in-law Kayoko; daughter, Laurel King Butler Lawshae and son-in-law Tom; and fifteen nieces and nephews and their families. He was preceded in death by his brother Bruce Baird Butler; and brothers-in-law, H. Cooper Rollow and H. Alan Rollow.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations will be welcomed at First Baptist Church, PO Box 254, Ithaca, NY 14851; the Interlochen Center for the Arts, Interlochen, MI; or the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Road, Ithaca, NY 14850.

A “Zoom” Celebration of Life Service will be held in mid-September. Please visit for additional information.

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