Cover photo for JoAnn Camille Butler's Obituary
JoAnn Camille Butler Profile Photo

JoAnn Camille Butler

July 18, 1951 — August 11, 2023


JoAnn Camille Butler

JoAnn was born in Geneva, New York to Elizabeth (ne Ellis) and Walter Butler.  She grew up in Liverpool, NY, and attended primary and secondary schools there, along with her 3 younger siblings: James (Anita), Suzanne (Mark Van Schaack) and Connie (Bill Kruse).

JoAnn believed that higher education would guide her to a life of challenge and independence.  She implemented that plan at the State University of New York College at Buffalo, B.S., (Geoscience).  And yes, she has the original recipe for Buffalo Wild Wings.  A vegetarian in recent years, the wild wings were, sadly, no longer allowed at home.

Graduate schools were a bit of an adventure for JoAnn.  She started her Masters path at Penn State University, while Joe Paterno was still in favor.  She tutored football players in Geography.  Marriage and a love of adventure, and Africa, led her to complete her graduate studies in Durban, South Africa (University of Natal, R.A., M.A., Geography) where her thesis was “A Geography of Well-Being in Urban Housing Environments.”  Thus began her long interest in public and affordable housing.

Life brought her back to Chicago, a city she dearly loved.  She worked at the American Planning Association as a researcher.  Yet again, she saw a need for more education to meet her goals.  Being female and independent was different in the 70’s and 80’s.  So, she began her days around 3:30 AM rowing with the University of Chicago Club Crew on Lincoln Lake.  Then she took the bus downtown to her job at the APA.  Then she walked to law school.  This grueling schedule for 4 more years led to graduation from Chicago-Kent College of Law (J.D., Certificate in Environmental and Public Utilities Law).  She also became a die-hard Cubbies fan, and remained so always.

After starting her career at a small Chicago real estate and planning boutique law firm (small meaning 120 attorneys in Chicago in the early 80’s), life brought her to Boise, a true gift to the City and State.  She continued her education while practicing land use and real estate law.  First at Georgia Institute of Technology, and then as an Adjunct Professor at Boise State University.  The evolution of law firms that she worked for, and then started, ended with the firm of Butler Spink, LLP.

In law practice, she attracted clients who shared her business and life philosophies – do the right thing, take the right approaches, be honest and transparent, and then work as many hours as it takes.  She was respected by her peers, her clients, the public agencies that she worked with and the opposing attorneys that had to deal with her meticulous preparation.  She won many of the awards that lawyers like to give themselves.  She was consistently a champion for female attorneys, and she has many close friendships to attest to that.  Over her career, the roles and status of women in the law has changed the practice dramatically.
But she was not opposed to travel and having fun.  In Boise, she tried her hand at football (soccer), running, tennis, and finally, taking her corgis (currently Duff and Ernie) for long walks in the foothills and along the river.  Oh, and golf, sort of.

Before her interest in travel gained traction, she and Mike Spink(that would be me, married in 1993, law partner for longer than that) designed and built a beach house in Cannon Beach.  Fun years at the beach were interrupted a bit too much by rain for JoAnn’s taste.  Additionally, an interest in sailing gave JoAnn a “Coastal Skipper” designation from the Canadian Government.  She and Mike sailed with friends to the San Juans, Gulf Islands, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and finally around Oahu - Moloka’i – Lanai’i and Maui.  And, of course, back to Oahu.

Travel with friends took her to France (several times), Germany, Russia, Mongolia, Cooking School in Tuscany, back to Africa (see photo), Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam, the Netherlands, Belgium and a September trip to Spain and Bordeaux that will have to occur in another realm.  And many trips to Hawai’i.  The friends for these trips and much more included the Pot Luck Club (Chris & Cynda, Charlene & Tom, Chuck and Susan),  the Bainbridge group (Wayne and Patty, Wes, John and Ellen), and Dave and Carol.  And more places and friends.

JoAnn loved her siblings, and their many children, and then grandchildren.  She had 12 nieces and nephews, two (Natalie and Will) departed.  New Yorkers who became Floridians.

She was an amazing Step-Mom to Sara Ellen Spink, who witnessed her marriage to Michael in Montana in 1993, when Sara was 9.  Sara is married to Jared Kennedy, and they gave JoAnn an amazing 3-year-old grandson, Flynn Michael Kennedy Spink.  Sara and Flynn spent JoAnn’s final day with her on the Big Island before a late afternoon snorkeling accident took JoAnn’s life.  On August 11, during the Perseid Meteor Shower.  The sad day ended with an appropriate display of shooting stars in the Northern sky, looked over by the Southern Cross.

The family is planning a Celebration of JoAnn’s life for a future date.  In lieu of flowers, for those so inclined, contributions may be made to the Idaho Humane Society (where JoAnn just started her second turn as a board member), or to the charity of your choice.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of JoAnn Camille Butler, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

4:00 - 6:00 pm (Mountain time)

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