Floyd Hanceford Brunson, known simply as “Butch,” was born on a Saturday in the small town of Alamogordo, New Mexico in 1942. Perhaps it is that his July 4th arrival competed with the loudly celebrated Independence Day, or that it happened as World War II raged across Europe, consuming all in the turmoil, or maybe it was just that times were difficult then, but whatever the cause Butch rarely had a lot to say. A man of few words, those who knew him understood that his quiet nature was not born of complacency but instead a watchful thoughtfulness. And when he did speak, his audience often strained to hear, knowing his words, infrequent as they were, must be worth hearing.
After graduating from Alamogordo High School in 1963, Butch enlisted in the United States Navy where he served out his time as an aircraft mechanic. It was there he learned the skills that provided a foundation for his post-service life. As with many of his generation, Butch learned early that hard work was not a choice but instead, just a way of life. Four inches shy of six feet, and less than 130-pounds if fully clothed and dripping wet, his stature belied his determination. Unaffected by potential challenges and driven to help, Butch was not to be deterred. On any hot July day, he could be found hanging over the edge of a friend’s roof, straw hat pulled snuggling against his sweaty brow, ears bent under the pressure, single handedly dragging a swamp cooler up a ladder by a rope. Payment for his effort was never welcome, even though money was hard to come by, instead a pot of beans with a spoonful or two of Hatch green chile, and a skillet of cornbread was about all he would accept.
But it wasn’t the fixing of things that illuminated his character. Butch seemingly knew when help was needed, and the asking just wasn’t necessary. Adding up the times he silently appeared one place or another to help out would be a difficult task. But try to repay his kindness, ever, and rest assured the attempt would be met by a stubbornness akin to butting heads with a mule. Taking him to dinner as a thanks always became a wily game of nabbing the check before he could sneak to the cash register to pay, and your attempts more often than not, failed.
Unencumbered by complexity, Butch preferred a simple life, reveling in quiet evenings sipping on a short glass of Jack Daniels while listening to old tales shared by family and friends. Never an outgoing or chatty sort, long quiet pauses were natural in his presence. While maybe somewhat off-putting at first, these conversation gaps were quickly accepted and for many of us even appreciated as they offered a tranquil relief from an otherwise noisy world. Sometimes so many moments would pass between words that the mind would drift and when Butch did finally speak, his audience would be startled back to the present.
It was late in his journey, and after several failed attempts, that Butch finally found his soul mate. Thirteen years his junior, Penny Marie Daugherty-Anderson became the center of his universe. Even though the two had known of each other her entire life, it wasn’t until they had both ostensibly given up on cupid that the arrow struck. Nearly inseparable then, she was the yin to his yang. But as sometimes happens, their love story ended far too soon. Even though a cancer diagnosis can derail the strongest of couples, Butch and Penny pulled together to shoulder the storm. And in the wake of those difficult days, they taught the rest of us much about care and grace under the hardest of times. In the end, so selfless and dedicated to his partner’s care was Butch that he quite literally carried Penny through her last days on this planet.
Butch is survived by his sisters Ronye (Donald) Smith and Dawn Satathite; brothers Harvey Tally, Will (Pam) Tally, and Steve (Judy) Tally; his children Richard Brunson and Marnie Brunson; and his companion, Sunny Clay.
Dance on the clouds with Penny, Butch. Your gentle soul will be forever missed here on Earth.
The Brunson family has entrusted their loved one to the care of Alamogordo Funeral Home.
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