Olivia “Ollie” Smuland Butler
Olivia “Ollie” Smuland Butler, 89, of Orange passed away Sunday, May 9. A memorial service will be held Thursday, May 13, at 11 a.m. at First United Methodist Church in Orange. Her ashes will be interred on Wednesday at Orange Forest Lawn Cemetery, next to her husband, Bill.
Mother’s Day was especially poignant for the Butler family due to the passing of our beautiful mother, Olivia Luella Smuland Butler. Although we miss her physical presence, we continue to feel her indomitable spirit. With gratitude for the 89 years we had with Ollie, we celebrate the life of a magnificent woman.
She was born in the tiny fishing village of Cascade, Minn., the daughter of Norwegian immigrants Nellie Olssen and Hilmar Smuland, a commercial fisherman. After the drowning death of her father when she was only 2, Ollie moved with her mother and five siblings to Duluth, Minn, where she grew up and graduated from high school.
During World War II, Ollie and her sisters worked for the government in Washington, D.C. It was there she met a dashing ensign from Texas, William Jarvis Butler. Bill swept her off her feet, and they were married six weeks later. Bill’s aircraft carrier, the Ticonderoga, was hit by a kamikaze pilot in 1945, and over 140 crewmen lost their lives. Bill survived.
When the War ended, he re-located Ollie and their newborn daughter, Pat, from the frozen North to his hometown, Orange, Texas. Despite the culture shock, strange accents, mosquitoes, heat and humidity, Ollie fell in love with Orange, and happily considered it her home for the next 64 years.
Like many young woman of her era, Ollie was primarily a wife and mother. Sons Billy and Bobby joined Pat and Ollie spent most of her time cooking, cleaning, ironing, and caring for her family. She was active in the PTA when her kids were in school, and became a member of the Orange Service League. She was a Gray Lady at Orange Memorial Hospital, and in her spare time, attended Lamar College. She completed the Dale Carnegie Course, winning the award for Most Improved Speaker, and obtained her Real Estate Sales license. She attended cosmetology school, got her license, and used her skills as a volunteer beautician in several Orange area nursing homes. She enjoyed being a HOST volunteer, working with children at Bancroft Elementary, and her time on the Intercessory Prayer Group at her church.
Ollie’s life changed dramatically in the 60’s when she discovered golf. It became her passion, and she spent many happy hours at Sunset Grove Country Club, with other lady golfers and with Bill, who attempted to refine her game. She was especially proud of her hole-in-one on #14. She served as treasurer and courtesy chairman for the Sunset Grove Women’s Golf Association. Ollie continued to play golf twice a week until she was 85, when she broke her pelvis in a fall. Her balance was affected so she couldn’t swing a club, and with much regret, she gave up her favorite pastime.
After that, Ollie spent her time visiting with friends in Encore, working crossword puzzles and jumbles, and sitting on the couch with her beloved orange cat, Dewey, eating chocolate candy and watching Fox News. She served several terms as treasurer of the Encore Homeowners Association and was a devoted member of the First United Methodist Church. Her abiding faith sustained her throughout her life.
Ollie is survived by her daughter, Pat Dyson and her husband, Jeff,of Beaumont; two sons, Bill Butler and his wife, Kay and Bob Butler, all of Orange; eight grandchildren: Scott Hatcher and his wife, Erica, Brent and Brooke Dyson, Melissa Dyson Jepson and her husband, Barry; Pierce Butler and his wife, Rose and Rob Butler; and Brett Butler, his wife, Hannah and Amanda Butler. Ollie is also survived by seven great-grandchildren, Wesley, Ty, Ana, Jonathan, Nathan, Kelsy and Diane, along with two soon-to-be-born great-grandchildren, Paige Butler and Winston Jepson.
There to greet Ollie in Heaven were her parents, her five siblings, her husband of 52 years, Bill; and her grandsons, Jeremy David Butler and Blake Jefferson Dyson.
Memorial contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church or to the Humane Society of Southeast Texas.
Special thanks to Lisa Franklin, Kristi Cart, Nikki Bell, and Avelia Boudreaux at the Clairmont, and the compassionate staff and nurses of Odyssey Hospice, all of whom loved and cared for Ollie like she was their own.