Cover photo for Joel Stephen Butz's Obituary
Joel Stephen Butz Profile Photo
1958 Joel 2023

Joel Stephen Butz

November 17, 1958 — September 23, 2023

Big Sky - Butz, Joel Stephen


Joel Butz, 64, entered fully into the presence of the Lord on September 23, 2023. He died peacefully, surrounded by his family. Joel was born in Green Bay and grew up in De Pere, Wisconsin. He attended Notre Dame grade school and Abbot Pennings High School, where he made many lifelong friendships. He matriculated at UW Whitewater and UW Oshkosh where he met Debbie Matzke in 1979.


Joel and Debbie were married in 1981. Together, they were intentional and involved parents to Stephanie, Dan, Tom, and Suzanne whom they raised in DePere. They loved the outdoors (especially the mountains) and prioritized spending time together as a family while skiing, hiking, biking, and backcountry camping. In 2012, Joel and Debbie moved to Montana, residing first in Bozeman, then Big Sky. Being a father brought Joel great happiness. His paternal legacy is the close-knit and loving family who survives him. As a grandfather of eight, Joel relished his role as "G Pops".


The sixth of seven children to Don and Joy Butz, Joel maintained close relationships with his brother and sisters. He was a natural mentor and had strong bonds with his many nieces and nephews.


Joel worked in the family business for 20 years before choosing to pursue his passion for construction, specifically remodeling. He loved the creative process of walking into a space and envisioning its transformation. Not only did he take joy in the process of improving homes with attention to quality and craftsmanship, but he also valued the relationships built with contractors who invariably became close friends. This "work" was never work to Joel; it was his passion.


Joel's zeal for life was undeniable. His excitement and positivity about projects he loved was magnetic. He will be remembered for this contagious enthusiasm as well as his kindness, integrity, strength, and easy smile. People were naturally drawn to Joel and he cherished many close friendships.


In 2020, Joel was diagnosed with cancer. While the process of fighting cancer was extremely difficult, he expressed that in many ways it was a gift, because it strengthened his faith and brought him closer to Christ. With this strong faith as a base, he faced health challenges with grace, courage, and humility while never losing his ability to light up a room. Joel didn't shy away from engaging in heartfelt conversations about dying, which eased the sadness of those who will miss him most. He did not fear death; instead, he was at peace given Jesus' promise of eternal life. Joel's close relationships offered him tremendous support during this struggle against cancer. He and Debbie were grateful for all those who extended kindness, from all over the country, especially as his health waned over his final weeks.


Survivors include Debbie, his devoted wife of 42 years. Surviving children are Stephanie (Bill) Schmitt and their children Charles, Eleanore, and Claire; Dan (Meg Troy) and their children Nolan, Theo, and Avery; Tom (partner Jennie Eller); Suzanne (Grant) Anderson and their daughters Elizabeth and Catherine. Also survived by siblings John (Jan) Butz, Barb (Jim) Spitzer, Mary (Mark) Lewis, Kay (Dave) Barrett, Debbie Butz, Chris (Tom) McEnery. Surviving in-laws Dianna Matzke, Robert (Kathy) Matzke, Jeff (Terry) Matzke, and Kirk (Lynn) Matzke.


Joel was preceded in death by parents, Donald and Joy Butz; Debbie's parents Bob and Leona Matzke; brother-in-law John Kersten.


Family and friends may visit at St. Norbert College Parish (Old St. Joe Parish), 123 Grant St., De Pere, on Saturday, November 4 from 12:00 to 2:15 P.M. A Memorial Service will be celebrated at 2:30P.M., with a reception following at the Bemis Center.  The service will be livestreamed via this link: (https://www.snc.edu/parish/worship.html).


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Christian Healthcare Ministries (checks mailed to 127 Hazelwood Ave. Barberton, OH 44203) or Big Sky Youth Empowerment (https://www.byep.org/donate).



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Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Saturday, November 4, 2023

12:00 - 2:15 pm (Eastern time)

Old St. Joseph's Catholic Church on St. Norbert Campus

100 Grant Street, De Pere, WI 54115

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Memorial Service

Saturday, November 4, 2023

2:30 - 3:30 pm (Eastern time)

Old St. Joseph's Catholic Church on St. Norbert Campus

100 Grant Street, De Pere, WI 54115

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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