More detail on this person: BUTLER, JAMES Thomas Sr. "Smeds" of Tampa, FL, a highly decorated veteran and prominent attorney, passed away peacefully on December 23, 2018 surrounded by and lifted up by the love and support of his family. Jim was born in Panama City, Florida on December 9, 1942. He grew up with little means but had an unparalleled work ethic and was a natural born leader. Jim attended Plant High School where he was Student Council President, homecoming King, voted "Best All Around" in his class, and was a first string fullback of their only football team to go undefeated and untied for nearly 50 years. Those achievements resulted in him being inducted to the Plant High School Hall of Fame. Jim graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in 1964. He was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1964 as a Second Lieutenant and was quickly promoted to Captain. He served in the Vietnam War as a helicopter pilot where he flew 988 missions in the span of 13 months. In that time he saved countless lives and was awarded 56 medals (a Silver Star, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 2 Single Mission Air Medals, 49 Strike/Flight Air Medals, 1 Vietnam Service Medal, 1 Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Accommodation with Combat V Medal) and 2 Presidential Unit Citations. Jim returned from his heroic service and met, married and had a son with the love of his life, Karen Butler. Shortly after the birth of his son, he returned to the University of Florida, this time to earn a J.D. in 1972. Jim was admitted to the Florida bar in 1973 and later to the bars of the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of FL, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th and 5th Circuits. He was a successful trial attorney for 45 years. During his practice, Jim tried hundreds of jury trials and was responsible for numerous seven and eight-figure recoveries for his clients. He started his practice in 1975 at Fowler, White, Gillen Boggs, Villareal and Banker where he made Partner faster than anyone had made Partner before. He was also a Partner at De la Parte and Butler from 1978-1982; a Senior Partner of Butler Apgar from 1982-1989; and a Principle of The Law Firm of James T. Butler, P.A. and of Butler & Boyd, P.A. True to his always generous form, Jim was a dedicated volunteer for the National Kidney Foundation for 5 years where he helped raise more than $300,000. He also sponsored and hosted the Annual Marine Corps Birthday Luncheon where for over a decade many, many local Marines gathered and celebrated the birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Jim was a member of the Brother of Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida, Lodge No. 25; and a member of the Egypt Temple Shrine. He is survived by his wife, Karen; his son, James Thomas Butler Jr.; his siblings, John Butler and Marynell Palmer; his nephews, Johnny C. Butler, Bart Butler, Matthew Butler and his niece, Denise Zentler; his daughter-in-law, Tamara Butler; his grandkids, James Reed, Mila and Gracie Edna Butler; his four-legged canine son, Charlie Butler; and many other special extended family members and life-long friends whom he loved dearly and by whom he was dearly loved. Jim, Smeds, Dad, Uncle Jim, Big Bull, and Poppy. He went by many names and was many things to those blessed to know him. He sucked the marrow out of life (and every remnant of meat off a chicken bone). He will be remembered for his generosity, his service to others, his charisma, his capacity to love, the twinkle in his eye, and his legendary Florida v. Florida State football parties. A funeral service will be held 11 am, Friday, January 4, 2019 at Village Presbyterian Church, 13115 S. Village Drive, Tampa, FL 33618, and will be followed by a celebration of his life. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in his name to the Marine Corps League and the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.
Burial information: Arlington National Cemetery
This information was last updated 04/15/2019
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Date posted on this site: 03/11/2023
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