Butler was born and raised in Midland, Michigan. He earned a B.S. in landscape architecture from Michigan State University in 1969, continued his education at the Cleveland Institute of Art, and earned an M.A. in graphic design from Kent State University in 1983. He began his professional career at the firms William A. Behnke & Associates and Behnke, Ness & Litten in Cleveland, Ohio, before joining the offices of Eckbo, Dean, Austin and Williams (EDAW) in Fort Collins, Colorado. There he collaborated on a variety of projects, including planning the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, and developing a signage system for the Denver Botanic Gardens. In 1990 Butler opened a branch office of EDAW in Denver, Colorado, and subsequently became a vice president of the firm. Shortly before his death, he departed EDAW to join landscape architect Dennis Rubba’s firm studioINSITE. Over a 40-year career as a landscape architect, Butler’s work spanned a wide range of projects but was focused mainly on campus planning, health-care facilities, and urban design. His projects included master plans for Youngstown State University; University Plaza in Youngstown, Ohio; and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and the Children’s Hospital, both in Denver. In addition to his domestic work, Butler developed a master plan for the city of Kigali, Rwanda, and designed the campus for the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Information Technology Centre in Shanghai, China. Butler was named a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 2002. He passed away in Evergreen, Colorado, at the age of 63.