Thomas James Butterly Jr., retired teacher

August 15, 2019

Thomas James Butterly Jr., 95, of Rehoboth Beach, died Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, at his home.

Tom was born June 20, 1924, in Waterbury, Conn., son of the late Dr. Thomas J. Butterly, DDS and Martha (Sharpless-Brown) Butterly.

He spent his childhood in Waterbury and graduated from Crosby High School in 1942. In early 1943, during World War II, Tom joined the Army and worked as a radio operator for the Signal Corps, a combination of the Army Ground Forces and the Army Air Forces. He had many interesting stories to share about his time in the military.

In 1950, he graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa. In 1953, after briefly working for Roadway Express and Bishop Steele Factory, Tom decided to become a teacher, and began his career in Federalsburg, Md.  He came to love the slower lifestyle of the Delmarva Peninsula more than the city life of his youth. After a few years of teaching in Federalsburg, Tom visited Rehoboth Beach and knew he was home. He was hired to teach history at Rehoboth High School. After the school district consolidated with Milton and Lewes, forming Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes, he continued teaching history at Cape for the rest of his career.  After 30-plus years, Tom “graduated” in 1986 and retired from teaching. After retirement, he pursued his hobbies of photography and model ship building.

He was a loving husband for 50 years to his treasured wife, Lois (Savage) Butterly, who died in 2007.  He met her when he moved to Rehoboth Beach and proposed to her along the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal after dating for six months. They were married at Epworth United Methodist Church Aug. 24, 1957, and her father built their forever home in Bay Vista. 

Tom is survived by his children, a son, Thomas T. Butterly (JoAnne) and a daughter, Beth A. Garvilla (Michael); as well as his grandchildren, Stacey Delk (Ryan), Julie Garvilla, Elizabeth Butterly, Alexandra Butterly, Joseph Garvilla (Andrea); and his great-granddaughter, Madison. He was preceded in death by his two sisters, Muriel (Ling) Bowyer and Martha (Butterly) Jovell, both who lived to be in their mid-90s.  He is also survived by his wife’s sister, Virginia (Savage) Caras; and wife’s brother, Thurman “Skip” Savage. He was blessed with many nephews and nieces as well. 

A service celebrating Tom’s long and fruitful life will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 24, the 62nd anniversary of his wedding to Lois.  The service will be held at Coolspring Presbyterian Church, 28843 Log Cabin Road, Lewes.  Friends may visit with the family beginning at 1 p.m. A reception will be held following the service in the Fellowship Hall behind the church. The Rev. Michael Williams, close friend of the family, will officiate the service.  A private interment will take place at  Epworth United Methodist Church Cemetery in Rehoboth Beach. 

Thank you to all of our dad’s family, friends and former students who have responded with love, support and kindness during this difficult time. He was well loved by this community, and we are blessed that his contributions live on.

In lieu of flowers, contributions are welcome to Doctors Without Borders, at  or to Delaware Hospice at 

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