EGG HARBOR CITY — In South Jersey, the name Butterhof conjures images of hayrides and corn mazes and all things autumnal.
William “Bill” Butterhof, the man who, for 58 years, ran his family’s supply store, died on Dec. 22 at home of natural causes. He was 86.
“He loved what he did,” his son Michael, 52, said. “He absolutely loved our customers.”
Butterhof was born in 1932 on the farm that has been in the family since 1854, originally functioning as a winery until Prohibition, when they shifted to produce.
Cousins run the farm, now Shady Brook Farm, and Bill and his brother Tom took control of the store in 1960 upon their father’s passing. Bill became the sole owner in 1984.
He was heavily involved in the store’s day-to-day operations up until the last three years, his son William said at the store Thursday.
Butterhof’s son, George, 59, remembered his father as a round-the-clock handyman for the community around him, never griping when someone required help.
People nearby would often treat the store like a directory, calling for information. A call on Christmas morning prompted him to open the store for a customer in a pinch. A call in the middle of the night led to him helping a neighbor repair an appliance he knew little about.
Though Butterhof’s name is most closely associated with the Farm and Home Supply Store, and Shady Brook Farm, he lived a full life outside of it.
“Dad was always involved in the community,” Michael, 52, said. “Sometimes on the backburner; sometimes in the front.”
He was a military man, joining the United States Naval Reserve in 1949 right out of high school and retiring in 1983 as chief petty officer, hull technician. In his yearbook at Egg Harbor City High School, he listed joining the reserve as his ambition.
Butterhof also had career as a politician, once serving on Mullica governing board in the 1960s and the Zoning Board in the early 1970s, and then from 1986-2007. He was appointed mayor in 1966.
“He was always trying to figure out what the town could do to better (itself),” William said.
For 38 years, he worked as a Forest Fire District Warden, retiring in 1995.
“He knew it needed to be done,” George said. “He was protecting people’s property.”
Butterhof is survived by his wife of 65 years, Alberta, and their children, Alberta, William, Paul, George and Michael. He is also survived by a brother and sister, Henry and Louisa, and “numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews,” his obituary said.
Michael said if his father stressed anything, it was to “work hard and be honest.”
If you do that, his father would say, even if success proved elusive, “deep down inside you felt good.”