RONALD JAMES BUTTERFIELD
June 7, 1944 - August 20, 2021
After a loving virtual visit with his dear friend Spenser Chen in Taiwan, Ron died peacefully at Riverview Health Centre on August 20, 2021.
Ron was born in Neepawa, MB. to parents Jean and Jim Butterﬁeld. He was raised in McCreary, Mb. where his early musical training began, fostered especially by his mother. Ron described himself as having had a very “creative childhood”.
Ron attended United College (now University of Winnipeg) as an Arts Theolog from 1962 to 1966. He was student minister at Red Lake United Church, Ontario, in 1965. After deciding on Education rather than Theology as his chosen path, Ron began a long and distinguished career as a Music and Creative Performing Arts teacher. He also completed a degree in English at the University of Toronto.
Many United Churches beneﬁted from Ron’s special musical talents including Grey Street (Winnipeg), Red Lake (Ontario), Rideau Park (Ottawa), Westridge (Winnipeg) and St. Stephen’s Broadway (Winnipeg).
Ron’s working life took him to many places. In Red Lake, Ontario, Ron founded and directed a Music Arts Festival which later developed into a Performing Arts Music Theatre program in the area. In Ottawa Ron taught an English program for gifted students seeking entrance into competitive Universities. Notably, while working for the River East School Division, Winnipeg, Ron created a multi-media performing arts group of 150, Grades 1-9, students he called “Kids on Stage”. These talented kids performed at the Centennial Concert Hall and Pantages Theatre until 1980. Ward Keith, likely speaks for many of these “kids” when he recently expressed to Ron, “You made a big impact on my life for which I will always be grateful”.
While teaching on a 3-year Government of Canada contract in the Bahamas, Ron took a troupe of 80 Elementary and 20 High School students and a 22 piece band of local Bahamian musicians to Ottawa where they put on a “full show” in several location including the Parliament Building. The students were partly funded by Harry Belafonte, especially a new pair of shoes for every child for their exciting adventure.
In the 1990’s Ron moved to Calgary where he developed many friendships and was loved by many, particularly his neighbours in Edgemont. During this time Ron funded the “networks” social club. He brought so many people together in a way no-one else could. Ron had an eye for talent and he knew everyone had something to contribute. With members of the club, he created a “trade show” out of virtually nothing but the ﬁnished product looked like an elaborate Broadway musical production.
Ron’s contribution to Education eventually took him to the far East. Spenser says Ron moved to Taiwan in 2002 to teach English and that is where they ﬁrst met. In 2003 Ron moved to China to teach at Cliﬀord Estates. He then decided to start his own business as an International University Adviser, helping students ﬁnd appropriate post-secondary placements in Universities around the world. Many of these grateful students have kept in touch with Ron.
Ron loved Asian culture and fully embraced life in China and Taiwan. He had a huge network of people he called friends, from University scholars to taxi drivers and everyone in-between. He loved them all, no matter their social status - and they loved him. Ron loved the fast-paced, high-energy life of Asia and he took to it naturally.
In 2014 Ron moved back to Taiwan. Spenser bought an apartment. They lived together in Taiwan for about 3 years, having a wonderful time together.
In 2017 Ron became unwell and returned to Winnipeg where he was diagnosed as having stage 4 prostate cancer. This began a challenging time for Ron. Many caring friends, old and new, stepped in to help, as they were able. Thanks are due to Cancer Care and their amazing doctors, social workers and staﬀ who helped Ron on his way. Special thanks go to Riverview Health Centre whose remarkable team made such a diﬀerence in his last days.
Ron was loved by many - especially his partner Spenser whose constant loving support gave such comfort to Ron. His dear friend Mike Cush in Calgary also meant the world to Ron. His friend Ginette said; “You are and always have been an inspiration to me.” She summed him up with these words: “courage, wisdom, strength, compassion, pure spirit, visionary”.
Ron’s wish was for his ashes to be taken to Dogtooth Lake, Ontario, a place of many joyful memories.
Spenser and other close friends wish to thank all those who have so eloquently expressed their appreciation for the life of Ronald Butterﬁeld.
Due to covid restrictions and growing health concerns a few close friends will gather for a private celebration of life at a later date.
And now we say to Ron, in keeping with his faith:
The grace of Christ attend you,
The love of God surround you,
The Holy Spirit keep you. Amen.
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