Cover photo for Judith Butler Fravel's Obituary
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1938 Judith 2023

Judith Butler Fravel

May 14, 1938 — January 14, 2023

Judith Ann Butler Fravel died January 14 on Bainbridge Island after a long progression with dementia. Born May 14, 1938, in St Louis to Dr. James and Margaret Butler, Judy was the youngest of five and extremely proud of her fourth-generation Irish-American ancestry.

After graduating from high school, Judy lived with her sister Pegi and spent a happy year at the University of Hawai’i. After returning to St Louis, she developed and honed her considerable kindergarten teaching skills. She later relocated to San Francisco, where she met her future husband Maris on May 5, 1965, on a blind date aboard his sailboat for a Wednesday night race on the Bay. They were married on May 30, 1967, at her neighborhood church in St. Louis, Our Lady of Lourdes, and then honeymooned in Tahiti.

For most of her married life, Judy called San Francisco home but lived for years in addition in Spring Valley, New York; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Taipei, Taiwan; Washington, DC; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. She and Maris moved to Bainbridge Island in 2004. For three decades, she also enjoyed spending summers in Port Austin, MI, on Lake Huron.

The Catholic church played a central role in Judy’s life, from her childhood education in St Louis through her work teaching kindergarten, first at a parochial school in St Louis and later at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco.

Judy’s lifelong passions were fashion and design. Her 1957 debut in St Louis may be the only party to have featured Polynesian sarongs instead of ball gowns, an early public sign of her iconoclastic bent. She took pride in being recognized for her funky, eclectic style and delighted in advising on interior design, event planning, and fashion trends. In addition, health and fitness were important to her: tennis through her middle years and “getting her miles in” on foot into her later years.

Judy is survived by her husband of 55 years, Maris, of Bainbridge Island; her children, Behan (Jamie Gifford) of Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, and Taylor (Anna) of Brookline, Massachusetts, her grandchildren (Niall, Mairen, Siobhán, and Lana); her sister Pegi (Niall Scully) of Bend, Oregon, and 21 nieces and nephews. She is predeceased by her parents, sister Nancy, brothers Jimmy and John and beloved nephew John Scully.

Her family is deeply grateful for the years of attention and care received from the loving staff at Madrona House, as well as from Hospice.

A celebration of life will be held later this year.

Arrangements are entrusted to Cook Family Funeral Home of Bainbridge Island.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Judith Butler Fravel, please visit our flower store.

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