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Wesley Earl "Butch" Van Zandt

June 2, 1952 ~ September 2, 2022 (age 70)

Obituary


Obituary of Wesley Earl “Butch” Van Zandt 


Butch Van Zandt passed from this life on Sept 2, 2022. He was born in Austin, TX on June 2, 1952 to Earl Van Zandt and Cleda Burleson Van Zandt. He was the third child and only boy. He was a surprise baby, born one month after his sister, Brena, turned one. Butch was a happy child with curly hair. Family would say he was always a charmer and sometimes a pest, but he was loved, especially by his grandmother Katherine (known as Mammy to him). In his youth, he loved playing baseball, water skiing, and hanging out with neighborhood friends. He graduated from McCallum High School in 1970 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1974 from Southwest Texas State University. 


During college, he met Paula Ann Irby who happened to be the older sister of a little league baseball player he was coaching. Butch and Paula went on to marry in August of 1975. They bought a property by Bull Creek and decided to build their house with the help of family and friends. Butch had endless stories about the fun and failings of the Laurelwood house. Their home became a gathering place for many years as they loved to host. Later, they were blessed with two children, Julia Katherine “Katie” in 1981, and Charles Paul “Charlie” in 1982. He loved being a father. After ten years of marriage, mostly happy, he and Paula divorced.


His career life began as a nursing home auditor for the state, traveling Texas and retaining shocking and hilarious stories from those experiences. Next, he was an event coordinator for the Erwin center and could still recall the behind-the-scenes exploits he witnessed. After a time at New York Life, he soon realized he wanted to be his own boss and opened his own agency (last known as Insurance Service Group), where he sold policies for all types of insurance. He was amazingly quick at learning all things to do with the insurance business and had hundreds of clients. He continued his business through his final days. 


From high school on, Butch had a passion for sports, especially golf which he played several times a week. He was renowned for his skill and appeared in the Austin newspaper for a hole-in-one he shot at a Heart of Texas Golf Association tournament. You would find him up at all hours to watch the pros play internationally. He had many friends in the game and was always well-liked. 
Butch also enjoyed the outdoors, choosing adventurous getaways like snow-skiing, camping, road trips, any kind of hunting, and fishing. He liked playing poker with his buddies and a cold beer in hand. His entertaining stories, welcoming personality, and positive countenance made friends easy to come by. He was always ready for a laugh. Butch was often dressed in Texas Longhorn gear and watching every game was a top priority. It was a highlight of his life when they won the National Championship. 


On Dec 31, 1990, Butch married Gabrielle “Gabe” Caldwell. They had a fun-loving marriage with lots of dancing, delicious food, and social engagements. He enjoyed her intelligence and beauty, always having a soft spot for red-heads. They divorced in 1993.


In his 60s, his health began to decline due to deteriorating extremity muscles from the genetic disease, myotonic dystrophy. Not being able to grip a golf club was a big setback. He became dependent on his daughter Katie and her husband for day-to-day care. When he could no longer live independently, he moved into an assisted living facility and lived there for several months with frequent visitors. 


Butch’s faith life was active as a child and at age 10, he formally confessed his faith in Jesus. As he aged, he found a closer relationship with God and often read his bible daily. He grew to enjoy watching sermons on TV and talking about his faith with others. Throughout his life and particularly in later years, he would pray for loved ones which brought him comfort. 


At the end of his life, he was uplifted with feelings of love, gratitude, and delight for his family. He cherished his many life-long friendships as another source of great joy. His passing was sudden and the specific cause of death is unclear. We know he was in good spirits and likely died without suffering. He is survived by his sister Brena Benjamin and her husband Tom, his daughter Katie Compton and her husband Chris, his son Charlie Van Zandt and his wife Sharon, as well as four grandchildren.


Our heartfelt thanks to those who were a part of his life and especially the caregivers and Pflugerville Fire Department that cared for him well and often in his last semi-independent years.
The family will receive guests for a celebration of life at Great Hills Country Club in Austin with invitation to share starting at 11:30. You may also join virtually at https://vimeo.com/751680180. In lieu of flowers and in remembrance of Butch, please consider donating to the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation (https://www.myotonic.org/).
 

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