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VAA, EAA Mourn Loss of Vintage Past President Espie 'Butch' Joyce


Butch Joyce
From November 1990 - Butch in front of one of his favorite aircraft, a Monocoupe, at EAA's Pioneer Airport.

March 28, 2012 - Past president of the Vintage Aircraft Association and director emeritus of EAA, Butch Joyce, of Madison, North Carolina, passed away late Sunday afternoon, March 25. He was 68.

Butch's first logbook entry - for a half-hour of dual instruction at age 10 in a J-3 Cub - was made on September 9, 1954, but his roots in aviation go all the way back to his birth. His father, Espie Sr., was a pilot and owned a variety of aircraft when his son was growing up next to the local airport near Mayodan, North Carolina. In fact, as a little boy, Butch's propensity to hop into any airplane in which a ride was offered earned him a firm "discussion" with his mother, Lena, who didn't quite agree with Butch's trusting nature in that regard!

While in college and serving in the Army (where he served with the elite Special Forces "Green Berets"), he built a Pitts Special biplane and became an EAA member, serving as EAA Chapter 8's president during the 1960s.

Later in that decade, Butch became involved with an aircraft group whose primary interest was older airplanes. That group, now VAA Chapter 3, rekindled his love for antique and classic aircraft, and he would go on to own and fly a Staggerwing Beech, Monocoupe, UPF-7, Clipped Wing Cub, and a Model 35 Bonanza, among others. Over the years he served as president of EAA Chapter 8 and VAA Chapter 3. He started his service to the national membership in 1981, when he was appointed to the Antique/Classic Board as an advisor. Butch began the Type Club tent in 1982. He was elected VAA president in 1988, and held that position until 2004, a span of 16 years. During that time he also served as the chairman of VAA's activities during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Butch said he was most proud of the fact that in 1991, in cooperation with the Aviation Unlimited Agency, he initiated the creation of the VAA Aircraft Insurance program.

During his years as VAA president, Butch also served on the EAA board, and he was presented with the EAA President's Award in 2004.

After stepping down as VAA president in 2004, Butch was elected to continue to serve on the VAA board, providing his counsel and guidance to his fellow board members and VAA volunteers.

Of course, for many of us, Butch was far more. Mentor, friend and confidant, Butch was one of our most enthusiastic members and officers, and we will miss his wise counsel and gentle but firm guidance.

Butch's funeral service will take place on Friday, March 30, at 11 a.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah, 114 S. 2nd Avenue, Mayodan, NC 27027. Internment of his ashes will follow the funeral service. The funeral arrangements are being handled by the Colonial Funeral Home of Madison, North Carolina. Read more about Butch.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a donation in Butch's name to the EAA Vintage Aircraft Association, P.O. Box 3086, Oshkosh WI, 54903, and/or Hospice of Rockingham County, P.O. Box 281, Wentworth, NC 27375.

Our thoughts are with his wife, Norma, and his children, and we ask that you keep them in your prayers and thoughts as well. Norma is also planning an additional celebration of his life at her home on April 28, 2012. Further details on that celebration will be forthcoming.


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