John Spencer Butler, a resident of Inverell for 88 years, died at the Inverell District Hospital on June 6, 2021 aged 89 years.
John, remembered as a true gentleman, was a beloved husband and devoted father. He was highly respected in the Inverell district and widely admired and respected in his legal profession as a solicitor at Borthwick and Butler Solicitors. His clients valued and trusted his sound and wise advice.
John's parents were Cliff Butler from Casino NSW and his welsh mother Gwen was from Summer Hill in Sydney. John was the second child, the only son to Cliff and Gwen, born on the November 3,1931 at Craignish Hospital in Granville St. His three sisters were Gwen (Clayton) born five years earlier, Barbara (Dawborn) was born two years after John and then Bronwyn (Robinson) arrived 13 years later. Barbara is the only surviving sibling.
Cliff's father, Spencer Butler, was a solicitor at Borthwick and Butler Solicitors, established in 1900, in the Pastoral Chambers, Byron St Inverell. Spencer was in partnership with his cousin John Borthwick. Cliff also studied law and became a solicitor in the firm. A further 10 of Spencer's descendants would go on to study law including John.
John attended Ross Hill School, then Inverell High School before going to board in North Sydney at Shore school for his final years of his education. After school, John started his Articles in Law at Borthwick & Butler and excelled in legal studies topping the state in many exams resulting in his Articles of Clerkship being shortened so that at aged 21, John was admitted as the youngest practising solicitor in NSW.
He worked successfully on many complex cases. He was also a mentor for many and assisted with their legal studies including his wife and eldest daughter. He also mentored students for school debating teams and Apex public speaking, establishing the Butler Public Speaking Award at Inverell Public School.
John grew up at "Illawarra" in Davey St, Inverell, with views over the Macintyre River looking to the township of Inverell. With the gully below as the perfect adventure playground and many children in the neighbourhood it was a wonderful place to grow up. He grew up with music and laughter resounding.
John and his Davey-Brae Street friends, which included the Ditchfield boys, had many adventures on the Macintyre River in their tin canoes, yabbying, fishing and swimming and playing on the cliffs above. He became skilled at trapping rabbits, the skins bring good prices. Also camping trips to Goonoowigall Reserve where the boys, aged about 10, would gather some meat and a bit of flour to make damper and head off on a walk to Goonoowiggall and set up a camp and "battle" with other boys.
John was very fond of animals and his pets, stories of animal antics always tickled John's sense of humour. His first job was delivering milk from Frizell's Dairy with a horse and cart starting at Fernhill then winding through the streets of Ross Hill.
He lived most of his life in Inverell, apart from boarding school and a year or so in his 20's working in Sydney and Condobolin. He witnessed many changes as Inverell grew and prospered in his much-loved town and he was actively involved in many developments.
Participation in sport was a big part of his life. John was a very active sportsman playing rugby, cricket, tennis, swimming, fishing and sailing. He held memberships at Inverell Rugby Club, Inverell Cricket Association, Inverell Golf Club, Inverell Tennis Association and actively competed for many years.
The Macintyre River featured as a big part in John's life. He knew the river's comings and goings intimately. John was a member of the Inverell Flood Planning Committee, he had a wealth of knowledge as to the varied ways rain events could cause floods in Inverell. He had many experiences dealing directly with Inverell CBD in flood defending the Pastoral Chambers and assisting others, so much so, his advice was sought after. He walked many times each day along the river to and from work and in retirement and in latter years, many commented on not seeing him, and would ask after him. he was a part of everyday life in Inverell.
In 1962, John met Tiiu Aavik, a young Estonian woman, who moved to Inverell from Sydney to teach at Inverell High School. They became engaged in August and were married on Australia Day at Shore Chapel in 1963. Their home for their 58 years of marriage was at Myora in Davey St. They made a beautiful home and garden for their family, a home filled with children running through the house and lots of love. Their family includes four children, Tessa (Newmarch), Matthew, Rowan and Saima (Grills), 10 grand-children and one great grand-daughter.
John worked tirelessly at Borthwick & Butler attending to the Court of Petty Sessions, criminal matters and District Court matters, also wills and estates including death duties. At one time, he had three secretaries working for him. He soon was managing complex matters, having an exemplary knowledge of statute law. His legal expertise included appearances in Wardens' Court. He used his vast knowledge of mining law, for matters relating to the rights of farmers, private ownership of minerals, mining leases and contracts with mining companies. This was especially so during the 1970's when there was a sapphire mining boom in the Inverell district.
John was an alderman on the Inverell Council, an active member of the Apex Club, of which he became president. He held many honorary positions including the Inverell Show Society, Inverell Rugby Club, The Inverell Club and Australian Rodeo Riders.
He loved rural life and to get outdoors to balance his office life, purchasing a farm, Auburn Dean, near Inverell and then the adjoining property Westgreen, then Essendean at Gum Flat. He enjoyed looking at the stock and crops, improvements being made, and discussing rural business. He would go for long walks, so happy being out in the bush.
After retiring in 2001, John cherished time with his family and enjoyed reading, writing his memoirs, trekking, golf, tennis, snow-skiing, watching rugby and cricket, also travel through-out Australia and overseas.
A life well lived and loved.
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