Grandma Butler, 97, honored for her work with Lakeview students

By Daily News • Last Updated 10:50 am on Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stacey Lafferty, left, and Britney Nelson, both fifth-grade Lakeview Middle School students, helped Juanita “Grandma” Butler celebrate her birthday at the school Tuesday. — Courtesy photo

LAKEVIEW — In 97 years, you do many things and meet many people.

Juanita Butler of Lakeview, who turned 97 on Easter Sunday, was honored Tuesday morning at Lakeview Middle School for her help in the Foster Grandparent program at Lakeview Community Schools.

Staff and students shared pink lemonade, cake and candy with “Grandma” Butler to celebrate her birthday.

Butler has met many children over the past 12 years at Lakeview. She works with students individually, reading with them or helping them with school work. EightCAP funds the Foster Grandparent program and Butler has worked with Kathy Nerychel, an at-risk teacher, for those 12 years.

“I’m happy to see the kids’ progress in their reading abilities and confidence,” Butler says.

Butler has had various jobs in her lifetime. She is a mother, grandmother and avid bridge player. She and her husband, Fred, owned the Lakeview Enterprise, a former local weekly newspaper, for 40 years. As a young girl, she ironed white shirts for pay. She also enjoys photography and oil painting. One of her unique hobbies is pressing flowers and using them to make bookmarks and birthday cards.

Many years ago, while working on the newspaper, Butler designed and drew the original “Wildcat,” the Lakeview Community School’s mascot. Coincidently, she received a Wildcat T-shirt for her birthday this year.

What else has Butler done? In 1955 she joined the United Church of Christ and is still a member of that church in Lakeview. If you do the math, that’s 57 years and counting. In 1975, Juanita “retired” and traveled to Hawaii and Las Vegas. She has done quite a bit of traveling.

What does a “reading Grandma” like to read? She says she reads the Bible every day. She is reading Psalms right now. But she also enjoys “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series of books. Recently, Lakeview teachers received iPads for their classrooms and Grandma has been listening to students reading stories on the iPad. Grandma says she enjoys kids and finds them kind and thoughtful.

“We’re fortunate to have Grandma Butler share her love of reading and her love for children with Lakeview students,” Nerychel says. “She is a remarkable person, and the children feel comfortable with Grandma in the classroom to listen to their stories, and praise them for their accomplishments. It’s not her age that’s important, but the way she makes the students feel successful.”

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