Susan Lynn Butts was a wonderful daughter, sister, mother and friend. She passed away Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, at Kootenai Health Hospital in Coeur d’Alene, following open-heart surgery, at age 60. She lived her beautiful life always thinking of and caring for others.
She was born Nov. 17, 1959, in Pullman, to Larry and Patricia Butts. She is survived by her parents, brother John, sister Sally and daughter Rahel. She was preceded in death by her brother Andrew.
Following her first few years in Pullman, Susan and her parents lived in Massachusetts, where Larry was stationed with the U.S. Army at Fort Devens. They moved to Laurel, Md., for about five years. Brother Andrew joined the family and Larry completed his military service at the National Security Agency. The family then headed back to the West and settled in Lewiston.
Susan graduated from Lewiston High School in 1978. There she played the clarinet in the high school marching band and performed for Jimmy Carter’s inauguration in Washington, D.C. She excelled on the high school debate team and was an Idaho state debate champion. Following high school, she attended North Idaho College on a debate scholarship and moved back to Lewiston, where she worked in several jobs over the years. Notably, she and her family started the Main Street Baking Company in downtown Lewiston in the 1980s to share Susan’s love of baking with the community.
In 2004, Susan graduated from Lewis-Clark State College with a bachelor’s degree in communications. She also completed graduate coursework at Gonzaga University in organizational leadership, including studies with Gonzaga’s Florence Study Abroad Program in Italy.
Susan spent most of her career at Washington State University. She started there in the mid-1990s in the Extension Office and with the 4-H program. She then took a position in the Student Involvement Office as the finance and budget manager. She loved working with the student groups, including student government and multi-cultural programs. She loved to bake treats for her office and went above and beyond to recognize special occasions, like graduation for the students she worked with. In 2018, she was recognized among 18 women during WSU’s International Women’s Day event for her service to students. Susan also was recognized with a length-of-service honor in 2019, with 20 years of service with WSU. In addition to her career at WSU, she was a loyal Cougar fan and attended most WSU home football games with her family.
Along with her professional career, Susan was a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church and served as a lay pastor to Kendrick United Methodist for seven years in the 1990s. She was dedicated to the congregation she served and found great spiritual fulfillment and often thought of a career in the ministry. Susan was involved in the Lewiston-Clarkston community in many ways, including volunteering and serving on the board of Family Promise-Lewis Clark, a partnership between the faith and local community to provide assistance for families in crisis with sustainable permanent housing.
Susan made a life-changing decision to adopt a daughter from Ethiopia, having always wanted to be a mother. Susan was a devoted mom and loved her daughter, always wanting the best for her, taking her to swimming lessons, encouraging her to participate in local theater opportunities and always making sure her daughter had a loving family.
A memorial service and celebration of Susan’s life will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at the Lewiston First United Methodist Church, 1906 Broadview Drive, Lewiston. Following the service and reception, a graveside service at Normal Hill Cemetery in Lewiston will be held for family and friends.
Memorials may be made to the Lewis-Clark Butts Family-Three Generations Scholarship at Lewis-Clark State College. This scholarship was established at Susan’s request in lieu of a graduation present from her family when she graduated in 2004 to honor her maternal grandmother, Verna Butts, her mother, Patricia Butts, and herself, as three generations of LCSC graduates in the family. Memorials may be online at 125.lcsc.edu/donate or mailed to the LCSC Foundation, 500 Eighth Ave., Lewiston, ID 83501. Please make checks payable to the LCSC Foundation and reference the Butts Family Scholarship in the memo line.