Theresa “Terri” Butler was a giving and generous woman, completely devoted to caring for her family throughout her entire life. She never stopped taking care of her children, even when they were grown and starting their own lives. Terri leaves behind so many life lessons, which can be seen by the way she lived her life every day. She continuously put the needs of others ahead of her own, understood both the value and necessity of hard work, and the age-old truth that patience is a virtue.
During the year 1947 America was beginning to gain her footing again since WWII had ended just a few years prior leaving servicemen to resume the lives they left behind. Women were moving from the workplace back to the homes and families they had tended once before since many of their young men had returned from serving overseas. This was also a year for celebration in the family of Marshall and Beatrice (Maglio) Rzepinski as they welcomed the birth of their first child, Theresa Marie, on April 2nd in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Theresa was named after her maternal grandmother and was the oldest of five children in her family. Their family embraced their Italian heritage which was deeply rooted in the importance of family. Theresa, who was usually referred to as Terri, often gathered with her extended family at Nana’s home on Sunday afternoons and on holidays too. This precious tradition was eventually passed on to Terri’s mother and father as well.
It was during her formative years that Terri learned lessons that would affect her throughout her entire life. Her father was the sole provider for the family and this helped to establish a strong work ethic within Terri. She also learned how to tenderly care for children not only by observing her mother, but by helping care for her siblings too. She was a wonderful sister to her two sisters and two brothers by caring for them and being someone they could look up to. Terri attended St. Hedwig Grade School and St. Joan Antida High School on Milwaukee’s east side. When she graduated from high school, she began working for the Wisconsin Telephone Company.
Great and exciting changes were in store for Terri. As she entered her adult life, she met the man who would forever hold the key to her heart. His name was D.V. Butler. D.V. was living with his brother after he returned from serving his country during the Vietnam War. D.V.’s brother and sister-in-law were neighbors to the Rzepinski family. It wasn’t long before D.V. asked Terri out on a date which marked the beginning of a love story which would span nearly 40 years. Terri and D.V. were married on July 9, 1971 in Jeff Kentucky, D.V.’s home state, by an old Baptist preacher. Although their marriage license cost only $10, the value of this document was immeasurable.
Not long after they were married, the newlyweds were blessed with the birth of their son, Michael in 1972, and daughter Jennifer, in 1977. While raising her children, Terri took a position at the Oriental Pharmacy to help make ends meet. While they were at work, Terri and D.V. were truly grateful that their children were lovingly cared for by her parents. In 1980 the young family moved to South Delaware Avenue on Milwaukee’s south side in order to be closer to her parents who had moved earlier. After D.V.’s job was being eliminated, Terri and D.V. decided to move to Pekin, Indiana where there was a better opportunity to find work. Although Terri was not eager to move to “the middle of nowhere” as she saw it, she exhibited her true love and devotion to her husband by doing just that. They purchased a home on four-and-a-half acres of land outside of town. The move proved to be an educational experience for Terri as she learned how to garden, something she truly came to enjoy over the years. Gardening even became a means by which she showered her family with love. She enjoyed caring for the plants and flowers she grew, but what gave her the greatest joy was being able to share the bounty of the harvest. Terri was an excellent cook and loved to feed her family. Whether she cooked, baked or canned, no one left her table hungry.
Along with gardening, Terri loved to read, crochet and play cards. She enjoyed going to flea markets and finding a great bargain
Family was always of the utmost importance to Terri. She was much more than a wife and mother – she was also a friend and confidant to both her husband and children. Even though both of her children moved back to Milwaukee, Terri and D.V. stayed involved in their lives through frequent phone calls and visiting often. When both of the kids married, Terri happily added more members to her family. Terri loved her daughter-in-law, Mary and son-in-law Paul like her own children. Terri was also thrilled to become a grandmother this past March to Marissa Anne. Her granddaughter was the apple of her eye and a source of sheer joy in her life. Terri spent much of her time during the last 8 months visiting and spending time with Marissa.
In addition to incredible joy, life also had a great challenge in store for Terri. At the end of April, she went to the doctor to check on some seemingly innocent symptoms. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung and bone cancer. With this type of diagnosis, there was no cure for Terri. After trying a treatment option that could only offer her the possibility of a little more time, but would greatly diminish her quality of life, Terri decided, with the support of her husband and children, to stop treatment and truly enjoy what time she had left in this life. On November 17, Terri was admitted to Washington County Memorial Hospital in Salem, IN, where she was able to see her husband, children, granddaughter and siblings one more time before she found peace with God.
To Theresa “Terri” Butler, life was about loving others above all else. She was both practical and a realist who recognized the importance of doing what needs to be done rather than dreaming of different circumstances. Terri was never caught up in the pursuit of material things. She always knew the simple things in life were more important and the key to happiness-a lesson she learned from her parents long ago. It was easy to see that Terri treasured caring for her family and that she viewed her roles as a wife, mother and grandmother to be not only her highest calling, but her greatest blessing as well. She brought so much compassion, generosity, and love to the world in which she lived. It will be these gifts which Terri abundantly gave to others that will be so dearly missed by all those who were blessed to know and love her.
Theresa M. Butler of Pekin, IN formerly of Milwaukee, WI died on November 22, 2009. Terri’s family includes her husband, D.V.; her children, Michael (Mary) Butler and Jennifer (Paul) Ziperski; her granddaughter, Marissa Anne; her siblings, Pamela (Michael) Kachar, Marsha (Edward) Suminski. Marshall Rzepinski Jr. and Jeffrey (Jan) Rzepinski.; as well as nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can leave a favorite memory or photo, or sign the online register.