It is with great regret and
sorrow that we must notify you of the death of our Classmate, Butch Robertson,
on February 16, 2016 in Leesburg, VA.
Butch is survived by his wife, Barbara; daughter,
April; son, David Pierce and his son Caleb; son, Steven Pierce and his spouse
Irene; grandchildren, Stephanie Angele and her husband Ethan, Marcel Pierce and
his wife Heather, Mary Reuter and her husband Louis, John Pierce, Paul Pierce,
Mark Pierce, and Luke Piece; and
great grandchildren, Brigitte Angele, Liliana
Angele, Derek Angele, Kateri Angele, Gerard Pierce, Killian Pierce, and Ignatius
memorial service will be held at 2 PM, February 25, 2016, at the Great Oak
Clubhouse at Ashby Ponds, 44755 Audubon Square, Ashburn, VA 20147.
The funeral for Butch Robertson will be at 1 PM on June 21, 2016 at the Old
Post Chapel, Fort Myer, VA, with burial with full military honors to follow at
Arlington National Cemetery. A reception will follow at the Fort Myer Officers
Condolences may be sent to Barbara at
21144 Cardinal Pond Terrace, #WC402, Ashburn, VA 20147
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in
Butch’s memory be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka,
Butch. Be thou at peace.
Class Memorial Pages\H-1 Butch Robertson.pdf
Okja and I plan to attend. Beyond that, words fail me. Fortunately, fond
memories of our ever cheerful warrior-friend and classmate lend comfort to help
combat our inevitable sorrow.
Over the many decades since our graduation
I have frequently claimed that our old South Area Beast Barracks squad (Butch,
Jim Cullen, Terry Kirkpatrick, Tom Mercer, Bill Nesbeitt, & TFF) was the only
squad to survive Beast Barracks intact all the way to graduation and to reach
these later years undiminished. Now, as we face the inevitable, may Butch
Robertson’s ever cheerful presence offer comfort and example of a soldier's life
I believe you may recall the Handrail Award
Ceremony Butch arranged less than a year ago at our Ft Belvoir Class Brunch. I
was deeply honored when Butch presented to me the piece of stairwell railing he
valiantly removed from our old Co. G-1 Central Area barracks just prior to their
demolition. This piece of railing will forever summon up fond memories of our
Butch Robertson as we wait our turn to follow him into our Long Grey Line.
In Sadness,TFF, Central
Area Flanker, emeritus, Co. G-1
It is my sad honor to be asked to say a few
words about Butch from the perspective of his West Point classmates. I feel
quite inadequate to the task on two counts.
First, I cannot presume to represent the 800 plus
young men (it was all men then) who started with the class of 1961 or the 534
who eventually graduated. While I am confident they would all share my
sentiments about Butch, there are many who would express them in far more
eloquent terms than I can. Some are present here today and I hope they will
share their own reminiscences.
Second, I feel inadequate in trying to summon words
that would do Butch justice – what words are there to describe a man of such
achievement and character, a man who was loved by so many?
The West Point experience is not only defined by the
arduous four years on the rock. Because of the special bonds that are formed
between classmates, it lasts a lifetime.
Butch himself described his four years as a cadet as
among the happiest of his life. Not all of us felt that way, but it is an
indication of his natural leadership ability, his good humor, and his singing
voice – yes, his singing voice – that he would think that.
When I polled classmates in our company about their
recollections of Butch, those three qualities were consistently mentioned. I’ll
give brief examples of each drawn from those recollections.
First, his leadership ability:
John Grisoni: “Almost 60 years ago I was about to be
separated from West Point because of deficiency in mathematics. There were those
in my H-1 cadet company, both classmates and upperclassmen, who encouraged me to
stay the course. I recall Butch coming to me one day to tell me that he would
do all he could to help me succeed for the rest of the year if only I could hold
on to the current semester. He was willing to share his time and energy in what
was a very demanding plebe year for all of us. That was the kind of leader and
man that Butch was. As I near my 80th birthday, I often think of how blessed I
was for being in the company of those fine young men such as Butch. I have
truly marched among giants. I will never forget, nor have I ever experienced
outside of my family, such love and support. And the camaraderie continues to
this day. Well done, Butch.”
Bill Nesbeitt: “Butch had a huge impact on many of
us young cadets. I well recall his ever-present positive attitude. He led and
inspired without displaying a run-away ego or exuding an obsession with
self-important desires to ‘take control.’”
George Cherry: “The main thing I remember about
Butch was that he was the perfect blend of business and fun. Our four years at
West Point seemed to be an effortless walk in the park for him. Although he
seemed to enjoy every minute of it, he was serious when the occasion called for
it. He would do his job and help others with theirs.”
Bruce Cowan: “He was the highest ranking cadet in
our company and highest rank doesn't always go well with being well liked. Not
the case with Butch. Despite his rank everyone in the company liked Butch and
respected him. He was a genuine good guy - everyone's friend and gaining
everyone's respect for his high rank which he carried well.”
Bob Kewley: “However you would describe ‘natural
leadership,’ Walter Gaines Robertson had it. Butch made friends easily,
unknowingly demanded respect, and never lost an H-1 friendship. I know that
through the years, wherever we were, whatever we were doing, we enjoyed being
around him, were all a bit happier, better led, and perhaps entertained, when he
was in the group.
Second, his sense of humor:
Butch himself said he “would want to be remembered as
one of good humor, always trying to be funny and sometimes succeeding.” Well, he
succeeded beyond his expectations.
George Cherry: “He was a much better than average
comedian who loved life.”
One anecdote testifies to the puckish sense of humor
which fortunately stayed with him his whole life:
Mike Underwood and Bob Kewley: “In addition to the
three of us roommates, we also had Thor and Igor, the hamsters. Mike had a
metal box for 33 rpm records. We cut off the bottoms of the record jackets and
glued all the tops together. That way Thor and Igor had a nice home during the
day – in the record box. Since the hamsters were nocturnal, we would let them
out at night and they would just make a circuit of the room as fast as they
could. Round and round they would run. Often we would hold hamster racing
competitions. One night during the evening study time, we had Igor out and were
letting him run. The Officer of the Day unexpectedly burst into our room and
before anyone could react, Igor ran over his shoes. The next day Butch had to
report to our company tactical officer with hat and Igor in hand. Butch did not
get in bad trouble over Igor but we did have to get rid of the little guy.
(Thor, who was undiscovered, left on his own terms a few days later.) As Butch
once said, perhaps Thor and Igor or their descendants are still roaming the
halls of old south area.
And finally, his singing voice:
You might wonder why this would be so important.
Well, it was because it got him a prominent place in the Glee Club and in the
Chapel Choir, both of which afforded the opportunity to get off of West Point
for brief trips to perform in the outside world. In fact, Butch said, “If
records were kept for time away from the Rock on boondoggle trips, (I) would
rank pretty high.”
Nick Plodinec: “He was a fine man....highly
respected for his intelligence, leadership qualities, and great sense of humor.
We shared many fun moments in the Glee Club where he was also an
Bill Nesbeitt: “My memory brings up a happy vision
of Butch and my ears hear yet again his magnificent voice singing ‘Oh Danny Boy’
on Glee Club trips. The young ladies did swoon! Butch was delightful and
entirely filled with a joyful spirit on those trips.”
Mike Underwood: “(At) Mike Xenos’ wedding a couple
of days after graduation, Butch sang ‘Ave Maria’ during the ceremony. We were
in a church and the choir loft was above and at the back of the sanctuary. So,
at the appropriate time, Butch sang and his voice sort of washed over us. I
will never forget the impact that had on me.”
Butch wrote of himself that, “He knew life is
precious, and so as you realize you are on the down slope, relations with other
living things tend to be increasingly emotional, sentimental, and meaningful, a
truth of life we should learn on the up-slope.” Butch need not have worried.
On the “up-slope” he acquired more friends and admirers who truly loved him
than can be counted.
Bob Kewley wrapped it up: “For
me it went beyond having a close friend. He was an ardent supporter who added
elements to my life that have made me a better person, proud of who I’ve become.
Butch’s legacy transcended more than that time, our time at West Point. He
remained loyal . . . to the brotherhood developed so many years ago. That kind
of lifetime mutual loyalty, respect and admiration is something most people
never experience, and will likely not see ever again. From the comments and
memories expressed by others you can see, Butch Robertson obviously earned that
respect and admiration.”
I last saw Butch
on Veteran’s Day last year. Todd Counts and I came out for a very happy few
hours. The last words Butch and I exchanged on this earth were, “I love you.”
In that sense, I think I really can represent my classmates, both by saying
those words to Butch and hearing them from him. We all loved him, and know that
he loved us.
These words are
sung in the final stanza of the West Point Alma Mater: “and when our work is
done, our course on earth is run, may it be said well done, be thou at peace.”
Butch. be thou at peace
25 Feb 2016