TOWN OF WAUKESHA

June Grammes Butler Kemper

May 16, 1916 – Jan. 22, 2011


June Grammes Butler Kemper, a longtime resident of the Town of Waukesha, died peacefully at her home Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011, surrounded by her sons and close friends. She formerly resided in Barrington, Ill., and in Adair County, Kentucky. For more than 20 years, she wintered in Wakefield, Mich.

June Grammes was born May 16, 1916, in Bethlehem, Pa., the seventh child of Harry Asa Grammes and Blanche Horne Grammes. She attended Moravian Preparatory Academy, graduated from Cedar Crest College and continued her schooling in veterinary medicine at the University of Pennsylvania – an extraordinary accomplishment for a woman in the 1930s.

June Grammes married Morgan (Bob) Butler Jr. of Waukesha in October 1941, and had six children. June married Jackson Kemper III from Barrington, Ill., in 1970.

June Grammes Butler Kemper is survived by her children, Merrily Butler of New York City, Linda Butler of Washington, D.C., Morgan R. Butler III and Harry G. Butler of Waukesha, Wendy Butler Burt of Columbia, Ky., and Brian H.B. Butler of Olympia, Wash.; five grandchildren, Benjamin, Rachel, Grayson, Morgan IV and Sloan; and three great-grandchildren, Daniel, Isabella and Nicolas.

A memorial celebration of her life will take place at 2 p.m. March 26 at the Retzer Nature Center in Waukesha.

She was known to her many friends and admirers as a lover of birds and nature, horsewoman, art collector and music enthusiast, world traveler, teacher and hostess to travelers, wanderers and friends from home and abroad.

She made countless nature and bird presentations to school students and community organizations wherever she lived – in Waukesha, Illinois and Kentucky. June taught in the Mukwonago and Waukesha school systems in the 1960s.

Together with her first husband, Bob Butler, she was involved in the founding of the Waukesha Symphony Orchestra, playing a role with many Symphony Fair fundraisers. Bob Butler died in 1983.

She traveled extensively on five continents, but to her regret she never made it to Australia or Antarctica. She collected native art in Canada, post-revolution art from Soviet Russia and indigenous art from Africa and South America.

She and her second husband, Jackson Kemper, moved to Kentucky in 1975, where they raised Morgan horses and collected horsedrawn carriages on the farm they refurbished on Harrods Fork Creek in the Cumberland River Valley. Jackson Kemper died in 1980. While in Kentucky, she wrote a nature column titled "Joy Out My Window" for the Daily Statesman newspaper of Columbia. In this column, she expressed her philosophy of living as part of nature and the joy of observing the lushness of the natural world around her.

June returned to Waukesha in 1994 to live with family on her farm and wander in her maple woods. She last visited the woods to enjoy the fall colors in November, celebrated Christmas with her entire family and fed her birds to her end.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation in June’s name to one of her favorite causes: The Wisconsin Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, 633 W. Main St., Madison, WI 53703 (phone: 608-251-8140), www.nature.org/wisconsin; the American Indian College Foundation, 8333 Greenwood Blvd., Denver, CO 80221 (phone: 800-776-3863), www.collegefund.org; or the Environmental Defense Fund, 257 Park Ave. South; New York, NY 10010 (phone: 800-684-3322), www.edf.com.