Leighton Thomas Butt of "Belmont" Jugiong died at home on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019 aged 86. Although he had been of frail health for some time, his sudden death from cardiac arrest took his family by surprise.
Leighton is survived by his widow Judith Butt, his daughter Elizabeth, son Daniel and his wife Sally, son Leigh and his wife Paula, his daughter Kayleen Makeham and her husband Craig, son Timothy and his wife Kim, son James and his wife Rebecca and son Matthew and his wife Stephanie. He leaves 19 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild.
Leighton Butt was born on 1 October 1, 1932 in Cootamundra. He was the second child of Joseph Albert Butt, a first world war returned serviceman and grazier, and Margaret Mary Butt (nee O'Connor). Leighton's elder brother Albert Butt of Cootamundra died in 1981.
Leighton started life living at "Morningside", Muttama and commenced his schooling at "Wambidgee", Muttama.
Leighton's father died when Leighton was around seven years old. Leighton's mother later married Frank Coggan and they moved to live at "Belmont" Jugiong. "Belmont" remained Leighton's home for the rest of his life.
In the 1930s, learning to ride a horse was a necessity for a child growing up on a grazing property. Taking cattle to market involved walking the herd from "Belmont" to Muttama. Leighton spoke of having been given a wheat bag to throw across the back of his horse and being told that he could not have a saddle until he could ride bareback properly.
Leighton attended school just down the road from "Belmont" at the property "Linden". In later years he had very short stints at Canberra Grammar School and at Yanco, but boarding school was not to his liking.
Leighton left school at an early age and worked on "Belmont" and local rural properties.
In days when long distance travel was difficult, social interaction was very much localised. Leighton and the similarly aged Judith (Judy) Quinn were known to each other from a young age. They regularly attended the same social events and they both played in the local tennis competition. A few years down the track, their relationship developed. Leighton and Judy went out together for seven years before they married in Jugiong on November 1, 1959.
Initially, Leighton and Judith made their home at the "Belmont" homestead with Leighton's mother and step-father. Judy soon fell pregnant with Elizabeth and a home of their own was needed. The cottage across Cooneys Creek from the "Belmont" homestead was fixed up and they moved in before Elizabeth was born in September 1960. Their second child Daniel joined them when he was born in August 1961.
Leighton's stepfather Frank Coggan died in 1962. Soon after, Leighton and Judy moved back to the "Belmont" homestead.
With plenty of bedrooms to fill, Leighton and Judy went about increasing their family, with Leigh being born in 1965, Kay being born in 1967 and Tim and James being born in 1969. The family then welcomed Matt in 1981.
Leighton worked hard as a farmer and grazier to keep food on the table for his family. He also worked off farm, as a barman at the Sir George Tavern in Jugiong, as a highly respected wool classer, he did some school bus driving and did a little contract farming in his spare time.
Leighton was a stalwart of the Jugiong community. As a committee member of the Jugiong Tennis Club, he was instrumental in procuring lighting for the village tennis courts. Judy recalls Leighton climbing the light poles to adjust the lights when they were first installed. He worked many hours as a volunteer for the Jugiong Public School P&C, for the Jugiong War Memorial Park Committee and for the committee that procured the public swimming pool for Jugiong. He was awarded a medal in 2009 by NSW Rural Fire Service for 50 years' service to the Jugiong Bushfire Brigade.
Even though he may have had limited formal education, Leighton was highly-regarded by those who knew him as a knowledgeable and wise man. He was also a physically strong and mentally resilient man. He would drive a tractor with no cabin all night in the middle of winter with only a coat and gloves to protect him from the elements.
Leighton could turn his hand to almost anything. If something needed to be fixed or made, he would do it. He had immense self-taught skills as a builder, plumber, electrician, mechanic and fabricator.
Leighton thoroughly enjoyed sea-side holidays, indulging his fondness for fishing and prawning. Leighton's family and friends have fond memories of annual holidays spent at Bream Beach.
Leighton and Judy had a wonderful marriage of 59 years, they lived in the "Belmont" homestead until most of his children had grown and moved out. It was then time to downsize and let the next generation move in. Leighton and Judy had their new home built on "Belmont", across Cooney's Creek just a stone's throw from the old cottage and moved over in 1993. Leighton and Judy turned their new home into an oasis where Leighton lived out the rest of his life.
Although his physical health declined over the past few years, Leighton's mind stayed strong. He remained willing and able to provide solutions to problems and to spin a yarn or two up until his death.
Leighton's family thank the doctors and nursing staff at Gundagai Hospital who provided Leighton with great care, support and understanding.
Leighton was buried at Jugiong Catholic Cemetery on April 29, 2019 after a graveside service attended by his family and many friends.
Leighton's family remain ever grateful for the sacrifices that Leighton made throughout his life's journey. His children remember him as a calm and caring man. Leighton was always slow to anger, despite seven children constantly testing his patience. He is sadly missed.