The late Jamie Butterfield, The Jamie Project and the emotional return of Butterfield’s brother, Tom, to their childhood home after decades were topics of an article by this author in the March 24 issue of The Beverly Review.
During his emotional visit on March 6, Tom Butterfield sat under the cottonwood tree that his now-departed mother, Lois, claimed held the spirit of his younger brother Jamie, who was fatally injured while playing with friends in the Dan Ryan Woods on March 29, 1981.
James P. “Jamie” Butterfield died at age 16, and he was mourned at services on March 31, 1981.
Now, another sad chapter has been added to the Butterfield story.
Tom Butterfield, 64, died March 31, 40 years to the day that hundreds stood in line at Heeney Funeral Home on 95th Street to express condolences to the well-known and well-regarded Butterfield Family on the tragic death of Jamie, who was a student at Quigley Seminary South.
During the recent gathering with friends on an unseasonably warm and sunny Saturday in early March, Tom, a Morgan Park High School graduate and U.S. Navy veteran, recalled many memories. It was the first time he’d been back to the house since being caretaker for his father, Patrick, who eventually died there under hospice care.
“I feel like in some sense the guys doing The Jamie Project brought Tom a sense of peace and closure,” said Margaret Houlihan Smith, who lived across from the Butterfield Family as a youngster.
“After 40 years,” Smith said, “the Butterfields are together again.”
The Jamie Project is a selfless initiative brought to bear by Jamie’s friends and Beverly natives Bill Becker, Jamie Lawler, Bill Mulchrone and Mike Whealan.
“The guys” bought the Butterfield home on Claremont Avenue in North Beverly, renovated it and prepared it for sale. A scholarship has been named for Jamie Butterfield to help a student at Christ the King Elementary School.
Since Nov. 1, the Butterfield friends had gathered to labor at the home to restore it. Weather permitting, the group would convene by the fire pit under the massive century-old tree.
On some nights, Whealan would bring out his guitar and lead the circle of grade school friends in a rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.”
A Butterfield cousin, Marty Butterfield, informed the tight-knit group of friends on the day of Tom’s death.
In recent days, Marty said, Tom had been sharing with his many cousins the news about The Jamie Project, even sending copies of The Beverly Review to distant relatives.
“Tom was so proud,” he said.
Funeral information is available here.