Visitation5-7PM - Wednesday, August 27 at the O'Connell Family Funeral Home in Hudson
Funeral Services10AM - Thursday, August 28 at Bethel Lutheran Church, Downtown
Karl James Butterbrodt passed away on Monday, August 25, 2014 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin after fighting a tooth-and-nail battle against Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS (often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
Karl was born on October 20, 1957 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to James “Coach” Butterbrodt and the late Mary Butterbrodt. He joined an older brother, Jay, and the two were thereafter joined by two more brothers, Tim and Paul. The family later moved to Hurley, Wisconsin, where Karl attended grade school and high school. The band of Butterbrodt brothers would remain close throughout the years—playing sports, fixing machines, and, not least of all, serving their country. Possessed of a great and insatiable need for speed, the brothers and their close friends spent many a Wisconsin winter locked in a garage they called the “Quik-E-Fix” attaching engines to machines that didn’t have them, and souping up the ones that did. Cars, motorcycles, snowmobiles, and any variation of the above were chopped, altered, and made to go faster. Karl, his brothers, and their friends, raced as many machines as they could—and found special enjoyment and success in snowmobile racing.
After high school, Karl’s need for speed found a higher calling. He attended the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, graduating in 1980. While at the Academy, he was a varsity rower as well as a student and soldier. He would go on to serve his country as a Navy flight officer until 1988. During that time, he was assigned to a squadron known as the Black Aces, which was engaged in the first Navy air combat since Vietnam, and the first air combat ever involving the F-14 Tomcat. The Black Aces were awarded the COMNAVAIRLANT Battle Efficiency “E,” signifying them as the most efficient squadron in the Atlantic Fleet.
After his retirement from active service, Karl married Lisa Butterbrodt, and the two have three children together: Erich, Ava, and Greta Butterbrodt. Bringing the same calling to fatherhood as he brought to the Navy, Karl enjoyed every moment he had with his children—whether skiing in the Northwoods, cooking his famous “Brats and Spatz,” or building Pinewood Derby cars that (you guessed it) went faster than all the rest.
Karl will be deeply missed by both family and friends. His commitment to country was second to none, and the courage with which he confronted his disease is an inspiration for all. He was known to say—until the end—that ALS was “not for sissies” and repeatedly reminded us to “cowboy up!” Although the checkered flag has flown over this leg of Karl’s journey, we find comfort in knowing that he is watching over us, at long last, without physical pain.
Karl is survived by his wife, Lisa, and children, Erich, Ava, and Greta. He is also survived by his father James Butterbrodt; brothers Jay (Cheryl Barczak) of Boston, Massachusetts; Tim (Lupe) of San Jose, California; and Paul (Rosann) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; uncle Tom (Liz) Butterbrodt of Berlin, WI; Cousins Daniel Butterbrodt of Huston, Texas; Jane (Paul) Byron and Kathy (Steve) Metcalf of Hudson, Wisconsin; and aunt Ruth Gennrich of Lawrence, Kansas.
Funeral service for Karl will be 10AM Thursday August 28 at Bethel Lutheran, Downtown. Burial with full military honors will be in the Northern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Spooner. Visitation will be on Wednesday August 27 from 5PM to 7PM at the O’Connell Family Funeral Home in Hudson.