Julianne ‘Judy’ R. Butterfield

Julianne “Judy” R. Butterfield, 96, died Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, from complications related to a recent fall. Judy died peacefully in her sleep surrounded by family.

She leaves her daughter, Amber Jones of Watervliet, son Greg Butterfield of Charleston, South Carolina, and daughter Beth Jacobs of Bakersfield, Vermont, along with grandchildren Spencer Jones, Keith Jones, Cristy Daley, Dana Jacobs, Morgan Lester and Devon Butterfield, and eight great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her spouse, William Butterfield, in 2012.

Born in Tipton, Indiana, on July 29, 1922, Judy attended Earlham College, where she was the May Queen in her senior year and where she met “Bill” Butterfield, after which they spent 65 years together until his passing.

After a short stint at Oakwood School in Poughkeepsie, the young couple stumbled upon a New York Times article about an island for sale on Upper Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. In 1955, they made the bold move to purchase the island, holding on to one of the five homes, selling the others to friends. Their love of the island and lake eventually prompted them to move to Saranac Lake, where both Bill and Judy worked for the Saranac Lake school system. Judy enjoyed working with young children and was a teacher at the Gabriels School and the Lake Clear School.

Judy was a code breaker for the U.S. government during the second World War, but to the end refused to talk about her service or exactly what she did, as this would break the code of silence she agreed to when she took the job. She knitted hundreds of mittens, sweaters and helmet liners for servicemen around the world, and created quilts of great complexity and beauty that will long be treasured by those fortunate enough to have one.

Long known for her love of gardening and birds, she couldn’t wait for the ice to go out of the lake so she could get over and start tending to her gardens and getting her bird feeders filled. It was not unusual for the hummingbirds to get annoyed when anyone walked near the sugar water feeder near the back door. Always an independent and strong-minded person, she celebrated her 90th birthday by going parasailing.

A private memorial service is planned this summer for friends and family members at her beloved Birch Island.