Keith Edward Butus, age 62 years of Niles, Michigan, husband, father, brother, mountain climber, alpine skier, and lumberman died peacefully at 12:12 a.m. on Sunday, January 15, 2023 with his family gathered around at his home, ending a battle against pancreatic cancer.
He was born on July 25, 1960 in Niles to Peter H. and Kathlyn A. (VanHaften) Butus. He began his education at the Stanley Clark School in South Bend, Indiana and was a member of a local troop of the Boy Scouts of America, earning the highest rank of Eagle Scout at the young age of thirteen which included leading a project to refresh Niles’ historic train station. His high school education and graduation was from the Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. After attending Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana he returned to Niles and joined the family business, Woodparts International Corporation in Elkhart, Indiana. Following the death of his father, Peter in 2012, Keith has continued the successful lumber processing enterprise.
Keith was an active outdoorsman, climbing mountains including his successful ascent of all 58 Colorado “14ers” - peaks that exceed an elevation of 14,000 feet. He had also completed his father’s interrupted mission to reach the 19,341 foot summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa to which he delivered the cremated remains of Peter. After his cancer diagnosis, Keith summitted his final Colorado 14er, Mount Evans on his 62nd birthday.
He enjoyed backcountry skiing, making his own trails through unmarked, isolated, and remote slopes. Closer to home, he was an avid lumberman who enjoyed maintaining his wooded property, earning him the nickname, “Captain Chainsaw”.
Of his many accomplishments, Keith was proud to celebrate 12 years of sobriety, which were successfully completed with the encouragement and support of his friends at Alcoholics Anonymous.
Keith’s choice in music included the classic rock of the Rolling Stones, led by Mick Jagger, for whom Keith’s beloved pet English Lab was named “Jagger”.
On January 2, 2021, fittingly outside in the snow at home, he married the former Sarah Anne Boyle, who survives, along with his daughters, Cassandra (& George “Bert”) Berry of Saint Charles, Illinois, Laura (& Zachary) Fashbaugh of Granger, Indiana, and Jillian Butus of Niles; Sarah’s children, Elijah Yu and Naomi Yu, both of Albuquerque, New Mexico and Eva Powell and Miriam Powell, both of Buchanan, Michigan; Keith’s mother, Kathlyn Butus of Niles; and Keith’s sister, Julie Ann Butus and her son, MacAllister B. (& Vassana) Griffiths, Sr. and their children MacAllister Griffiths II, Miles Keith Griffiths, and MacKenzie Griffiths.
The family of Keith Butus will host a celebration of his life from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Friday, January 20, 2023 at the Carnegie Library Special Events, 122 North Hill Street in Mishawaka, Indiana with a special tribute offered at 5:00 p.m. by the Rev. Edward Fashbaugh of the United Methodist Church. Committal of the cremated remains of Keith will be at a later date, at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Contributions in memory of Keith Butus may be made to the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, a non-profit 501(c)3 whose mission is to preserve and protect the natural integrity of Colorado’s Fourteeners; 1511 Washington Avenue, Suite 310, Golden, Colorado 80401; https://www.14ers.org/. Arrangements were completed at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main Street in Niles. Online condolences may be left at:
Keith’s life feels too brief, even at 62 years, but he used those years in an epic manner. When asked to name his favorite trip, his answer was always “the next one”. Keith is at peace and on to his next adventure.
Colorado Fourteeners Initiative
1511 Washington Avenue, Suite 310, Golden CO 80401