Major Mertha Butts

ESCANABA – Major Mertha Butts (retired) 96, of Escanaba, died Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, at the home of her daughter, Bonnie, in Longville, Minn. Majors Orville and Mertha Butts were Commanding Officers at the Escanaba Salvation Army for nine years.

She was born Mertha Anna Britta-inga Johnson on June 6, 1916, in Chicago, the daughter of Charles Hjalmer and Anna Elizabeth Johnson. She was raised in Chicago and had a zest for life with a sense of humor that carried her through many tough times. She had fond memories of riding horses, being the pitcher on the girls high school softball team, awarded roller skating champion of her school district, and being part of thriving youth groups.

Following graduation from Roosevelt High in Chicago she was employed with Vogue Pattern Company at the Merchandise Mart. Five years later she entered the Salvation Army Training College in Chicago. After being commissioned a Lieutenant she was moved to Two Harbors, Minn. She also served at several Corps in Duluth, Chicago, again in Two Harbors, and St. Paul.

Mertha was a Salvation Army donut girl at Navy Pier in Chicago serving the military personnel coffee and donuts on all three floors of the Headquarters – with no elevator – that took two hours to complete the round, and helped out at the USO as well as correspond with several servicemen who were stationed overseas as an encouragement to them. She kept some of the letters dated 1941.

On Nov. 24, 1945, she married Cadet Orville Butts following his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army. She remained in charge of a Corps in Chicago while he was at the Training College. After he was commissioned as Lieutenant they moved to their first appointment in Willmar, Minn. Together they served in Boone, Iowa, Duluth, Minn., Omaha, Neb., and Escanaba, Minneapolis, Minn., and Hibbing, Minn. They took an early medical retirement in Hibbing in 1975 and moved back to the Escanaba area.

Mertha encouraged young girls at each Corps through the Sunbeam and Girl Guard programs, and to women through the Home League. She had six granddaughters who were active in Sunbeams at the same time in Escanaba. Her goal in life was to serve the Lord with care and compassion.

Their retirement was very active, and assisted other vacationing officers in several states including North Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin, and loving their local grandchildren.

In addition to her husband, Orville; Mertha was preceded in death by her sister, Eva; and brother, Art. She is survived by her four children, Bonnie (Jerry) Collins of Longville, Minn.; Lee (Marla) of Wimberly, Texas, Rev. Glenn (Sheila) of West Bend, Wis., and Joyce (Gary) Guindon of Bark River; grandchildren, Jennifer (Steve) Delhanty, Andrew Collins, Sgt. Jacob Collins USA, Leanna (STG 1 (SW) Matthew USN) Land, Karen Chaix, David butts, PFC Paul Butts USA, Matthew Butts, Petty Officer 1st Class Nathan (Amber) Butts, Alisha (Brad) Skorupski, Linnea Butts, Staff Sgt. Calvin (Christina) Butts, Jessica (Dr. Jordan) Povich, Wendy (Nick) Chouinard, and Jordan Guindon, and 17 great-grandchildren. Her grandchildren reside in California, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington and China.

Visitation for Mertha will be at the Anderson Funeral Home in Escanaba on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. A Celebration of her life will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at Anderson Funeral Home Chapel. Lunch will be served after the service at The Salvation Army, 3001 5th Ave. S., Escanaba.

Burial will take place in the Gardens of Rest Cemetery.

The Anderson Funeral Home is assisting the family and online condolences can be sent to the family at