Donna Galebach Butler

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Enfield, N.H. — Donna Galebach Butler, 71, passed away peacefully at her home on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 under the gentle care of VNA and Hospice. She was surrounded by love from friends, her husband, George, and her sister, Patty.

Donna was born in Boston, Mass., daughter of Henry and Ethyl (Stetler) Butler. She grew up and attended school in Braintree.  She also sang in the girls’ chorus at the Braintree Congregational Church where she met George Butler, the organist and choir director. In 1955  She earned her undergraduate degree at Lowell State College and her first Master’s degree at the University of Maryland.  She then started her career as a public school music teacher in the Braintree school system.

In 1977 she moved to Enfield, N.H. to marry George Butler.  George spent much time in organ practice at the Mary Keane Chapel and thus it was decided it was the perfect place to get married. With permission from the La Salette Order theirs was the first wedding in the chapel. 

Donna joined the faculty at the Bernice A. Ray School in Hanover, N.H. and taught music there for 27 years.  Her many responsibilities included music director of grade 5 musicals and director of winter holiday and spring concerts.

She also shared her talents with the larger community as organist at several local churches and as the music director of the Hanover High School Footlighters' spring musical for eight years. A colleague noted Donna’s “…real gift was her dedication to and enthusiasm for all the students and their success as performers…”.

In 1992, she was the sole recipient in N.H. of the Christa McAuliffe Fellowship which inspired her book, The Arts and Integration of the Special Needs Child. It was distributed to every state and territory of the United States. 

While enrolled in the Integrated Arts MEd program at Plymouth State College, she was chosen as the music specialist to develop lessons and a teacher’s manual for their choral/theatre program entitled “A Circle 'Round the Sun,” which focused on Native American music and culture. She accompanied Plymouth State’s undergraduate choral students to England, where she taught integrated arts classes. Donna believed that students show and gain understanding when encouraged to pair rote learning with hands-on work. 

Apart from teaching, the organ recitals at Mary Keane Chapel at the Enfield Shaker Museum were high points of her life.  She and her husband George hosted the Mary Keane Chapel organ recital series for 20 years.  The annual 4th of July Patriotic Sing-along remains a favorite community holiday celebration. Donna also served as a member of the museum’s Board of Directors.

Unknown to many, Donna had an outstanding interest in painting watercolors. She enjoyed her time and fellow artists at AVA Gallery and Arts Center.

Donna’s thoughtfulness, artistic talents, and generous heart made her a friend, a mentor, and an inspiration to many in the Upper Valley and beyond. A lover of nature and nature’s creatures, she shared her home with several cats and untold generations of birds. 

She is survived by her husband, George Butler, her sister, Patty Griffiths, and a brother William Galebach.

Donna requested cremation and internment will take place in the spring at Mascoma.  A musical memorial will be held in spring/summer “in remembrance of Donna”. A date and time will be announced.