Butts, Muriel Bridgette (nee: Burke)
Peacefully at Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care on Wednesday, November 25, 2020 in her 99th year. Loving wife of the late Major David Blaise Butts. Beloved mother of David (Mary Katherine Scott) and Michael (Sherry). Loving grandmother of Travis Butts (Matt), Christopher Butts (Sara) and Christopher Scott. Loving sister of Dorothy Cronin (John). Muriel is predeceased by her second husband Norm Cullen, cherished son Crispin, and siblings Gertrude, Marie Burke, Sheila Brennan, Kaye Adams and Fred Burke. Visitors will be received at John T. Donohue Funeral Home, 362 Waterloo Street, on Monday, November 30, 2020 from 11:00 to 11:45 am. A private family service will be held. Inurnment to take place at St. Peter’s Cemetery. Due to COVID-19 restrictions as per the Bereavement Authority of Ontario a limited number of people are able to attend the visitation and therefore, it is required that each person RSVP their attendance. Please email email@example.com stating your time preference and phone number. If desired, memorial donations made to the Parkinson Society (www.parkinsonsociety.ca) or the Salvation Army Christmas Hamper Program (www.salvationarmy.ca) would be greatly appreciated.
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It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Muriel Burke Butts in her 99th year, in London, Ontario, of natural causes. Muriel grew up on Center Street in Truro, Nova Scotia, the second-oldest of six sisters and an adored brother, who loved to sing together. But her true Maritime home was down the coast in Wedgeport, where her mother’s family, the LeBlanc’s, have Acadian roots that sink deeper than their lobster traps.
Muriel was born on July 17, 1922, the daughter of Joseph and Gertrude (LeBlanc) Burke and was predeceased by her sisters Gertrude and Marie Burke, Sheila Brennan, Kaye Adams, her brother Fred Burke and by her beloved son Crispin (1999). She married Major D. Blaise Butts who served in the Canadian Army, until he died, age 47, of a heart attack in 1969.
She is survived and will be sadly missed by her sons Michael (Sherry) Butts of London, Ontario and David (Mary Katherine Scott) Butts of London, Ontario and her grandchildren Travis and Christopher Butts and Christopher Scott. She is also survived by her sister Dorothy Cronin, one of three sisters who had settled in London starting in the 1950s. Dorothy, Kaye and Muriel were a close-knit trio and called the silver sisters by a local antiques dealer – three gray-haired women of style and elegance who turned heads, especially when they were together.
Muriel got her teacher’s license at the Truro Old Normal College. She taught first in Wedgeport and then in Kentville where she met Blaise - a handsome captain in the Royal Canadian Regiment. They married soon after when she was 21 and embarked on a great adventure together. She was a proud army wife and raised three athletic, live-wire boys while posted in Camp Borden, Ottawa, British Columbia, London, England and eventually, London, Ontario.
She served as National Vice Chairman of the Military Widows (Armed Forces Pensioners’ Association of Canada) and helped many widows get the pension they deserved. She travelled with this group to visit Asia and had memorable times in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore, and enjoyed decades of friendship and service with military families.
The antiques bug bit her as she prowled British markets like Bermondsey and Portobello Road while posted overseas. Eventually, she started an antiques business called Old Treasures and rented space in London, Ontario antiques malls and sold at regional fairs in Stratford, Grand Bend and the beloved Christie Antique show.
Muriel was the ultimate acquirer. Suitcases stuffed with plates and wrapped with care came home from buying trips to Europe. She packed her inventory in piles under her bed and in every closet. She had great recall over their provenance and cost. She was noted for her love of silver, linens and fancy wear, cut glass, Flow Blue plates and Imari. Her homes, including her final room at Mt. Hope Centre for Long Term Care, were packed with Victorian furniture in deep hues and suitcases of clothes. No surface was left empty. Even into her 90s she kept a booth at antique malls in London and did a show at Aberfoyle with much family support. She loved to get a deal and had a reputation for selling quality goods at a fair price. Her sister Dorothy said people always wanted to help Muriel and she and Kaye frequently polished silver and ironed tablecloths to get her ready for shows.
She spent her summers in Wedgeport and welcomed her extended Ontario family to visit the 1885 home of her grandfather, Captain Alfred LeBlanc, a noted sea captain. There were three things on the must do list: visit the Sport Tuna Fishing Museum, eat copious quantities of rappie pie and most important of all, shop at Guy’s Frenchy’s, a chain of thrift shops.
Muriel had a “Frenchy's room” in Wedgeport complete with circular dress racks filled to the joists with “good buys.” The high water mark for her Frenchy’s collection was in 2009 when her two great-nieces both ran for queen of the Wedgeport Tuna Tournament and found the perfect dress-up outfit there including matching purses and hats.
In 2003 she married Norm Cullen, a former WWII RCAF "Canucks Unlimited" pilot in Burma, and Exxon executive, who died in 2005. They had known each other for many years and she supported him through his final illness and appreciated his kindness.
Muriel continued to make annual summer road trips with her great friend Pat Kierans until declining health resulted in the sale of her Wedgeport home. Her final Nova Scotia summer was partially spent at a hospital in Digby on the Bay of Fundy where she joked about being close to her favourite Frenchy’s store where she once scored a mink coat for $40. Every member of her family has a story about the beautiful silver wedding gifts and exceptional children’s outfits she gifted them – from her antiques stash or from Frenchy’s. She will be missed.
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