Butch Fanning, age 77, of Vetal, South Dakota, died on Monday, February 20, 2023 at his home in Vetal.
Daniel “Butch” Thomas Fanning was born November 28, 1945 to James Cameron and Marcella (McLaughlin) Fanning. He was the 11th of 14 children born into this union. Butch attended England Grade School, located one mile south of Vetal, SD. In high school, Butch excelled in football, basketball, rodeo and track. He graduated from Bennett County High School in 1963. After graduating from high school, Butch attended Black Hills State University where he played football. Butch then volunteered for the draft, and was deployed to Korea. He quickly discovered that “sh#@ runs downhill, so I didn’t want to be at the bottom of the hill.” Therefore, he worked his way up the ladder to become a Staff Sergeant. After serving his country for two years, Butch was honorably discharged from the Army in 1969. Butch then returned to Black Hills State University to earn his Bachelors Degree in Education with a minor in PE. Prior to graduating college, Butch met Paulette (Mattern) Weeks and they were married on December 18, 1970. The union of this marriage included their first child, Bobbie Jo.
After graduation, Butch student taught at the Littleburg School in Todd County. He was then offered to coach basketball and to become the teacher principal. While teaching at the Littleburg School, Butch and Paulette had their first son, Jason Thomas on June 29, 1971. Shortly after, Butch’s dad became ill with a brain tumor and he moved his family back to the ranch, where he worked for his older brother, James. He worked on the ranch for a few years until he took a teaching position at the England School in Vetal where he taught fifth through eighth grade. While he was teaching, Butch and Paulette introduced to the world their third and final child Josh Cameron on February 14, 1974. While Butch was teaching, he managed to raise cattle and lease land from his Uncle Cecil. Once Bobbie Jo became a fifth grader he quit teaching so he could ranch full time. Following in his brother Ronnie’s footsteps, Butch became involved with Purebred Charolais in the 80’s and produced high quality bulls that were sold region wide. While ranching full time Butch found his second love of his life, Quarter Horses. Butch lived by the philosophy of “horses are like potato chips, you just can’t have one.”
Butch was a member of the American Legion Post 240 for more than 50 years, serving in several capacities, including Commander and Sergeant of Arms. He has also served on the Bennett County Fair Board, Bennett County School Board, England School Board, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church Parish Council, and the Farmers Home Administration County Committee.
Butch was a man of many words, sarcasm, and a big heart that didn’t know a stranger. He loved spending time with his family, checking cows, drinking coffee with friends and taking naps. Butch rarely missed a sporting event or rodeo that his grandkids or great grandkids were in. He had a way with words and would never tell someone that they had a dumb idea. He would just look at you with a crooked smirk and state, “What have you been smokin?”
Forever grateful for the gift of Butch’s life, Wife of 52 years Paulette Fanning; Sons: Jason (Andrea) Fanning and Josh (Tara) Fanning; Son-in-law: Michael Dover; Grandchildren: Malesa (Nathan) Novak, Brooke (Eddie) Whiting, Sabrina Fanning, Rhett (Rickie Engesser) Fanning, Gabe Fanning, Eden Fanning, Laney Fanning and Aris Fanning; Great Grandchildren: Zakk Fisher, Tristan Novak, Emsley Whiting, Justin Novak, Brecklyn Whiting and Ellidee Whiting and numerous siblings, in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by, daughter: Bobbie Jo Dover; Parents: James Cameron and Marcella Fanning; In-laws Pete and Gladys Mattern; Grandson: Justin Alan Fisher; Siblings: James (Judy) Fanning, Larry Fanning, Dick Fanning and Ronnie Fanning: Brother-in-law: Jef Mattern; Sister-in-law: Caroline Dauwen and other nieces, nephew and cousins.
In lieu of flowers a memorial has been established.
A rosary service will be held at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, February 26, 2023 at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Martin.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held 10:00 a.m. Monday, February 27, 2023 at the Old American Legion in Martin with Father Tyler Dennis as celebrant.
Interment with military honors will be held at the Martin Community Cemetery.
Arrangements are with Rush Funeral Home of Philip.