Cover photo for Butch Johnson's Obituary
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1955 Butch Johnson 2024

Butch Johnson

August 30, 1955 — May 27, 2024

Woodstock

WOODSTOCK, CT – Richard A. “Butch” Johnson Jr., of Woodstock, Connecticut, passed away with his family by his side on Monday, May 27, after bravely battling chronic lymphocytic leukemia for the past 8 years. A five-time U.S. Olympian, and Olympic gold and bronze medalist, Butch was one of the most beloved and successful archery athletes in American history.  He was 68 years old.

Butch was born on August 30, 1955, in Worcester, Massachusetts. He was the son of Dorothy (O’Neil) Johnson and Richard Andrew Johnson, Sr. He was also the proud father of Richard A. Johnson III, and youngest brother to Deana (Johnson) Calkins and Sandi Forester. While he would eventually go on to marry his longtime partner, Teresa (Iaconi) Johnson in 2013, calling her the love of his life, Teresa always knew that she was actually the second great love of his life, the first being the sport of archery that Butch loved so fiercely.

The youngest of three siblings, Butch was both handsome and funny, qualities that only served to disarm his athletic opponents later in life. He graduated from Bartlett High School in Webster, Massachusetts, and fondly recalled summers spent on Webster Lake with his family, enjoying water skiing, fishing and swimming. When Butch was 15 years old, his then brother-in-law brought him to Hilltop Archery in Webster, Massachusetts, to try shooting a bow and arrow - and the rest, as they say, was history.

With help from family and friends who encouraged his love of the sport - including his parents, who both competed, and his sister Deana - Butch shot in his first national championship at the age of 17, when he sold his motorcycle to pay his way to that event. Butch would go on to win an incredible 47 national championship titles in his lifetime, from USA Archery, the National Field Archery Association, the Professional Archery Association, and more.

After an incredible career as a compound archer - referred to by many as the greatest compound fingers shooter to ever pick up a bow - Butch switched disciplines a few times before eventually finding the perfect match in the Olympic recurve bow. He made his first U.S. Olympic Archery Team in 1992 (Barcelona), and would go on to compete at the 1996 (Atlanta), 2000 (Sydney), 2004 (Athens) and 2008 (Beijing) Olympic Games - winning team gold and bronze Olympic Medals in Atlanta and Sydney, respectively.

His international archery career was by all accounts outstanding. While Butch’s team gold medal was the last gold medal won by any U.S. Olympic Archery Team, he also achieved seven world records. Some of his incredible accomplishments included two IFAA World Championship titles, and hundreds of national and international tournament medals, including Grand Prix, World Cup, World Championship and Pan American Games events.

Throughout his archery career, Butch worked full-time, showing an amazing level of dedication and a work ethic second to none. Butch retired in 2020 from his work as retail manager of Hall’s Arrow, where he not only sold and tuned the archery equipment he loved, but also coached hundreds of Olympic hopefuls and compound archers. Side by side with his son Richard, he passed on a wealth of archery knowledge that is simply immeasurable.

Butch also made incredible contributions to the technical side of archery, offering prototype testing, input and guidance to archery manufacturers that continues to impact bow and product design to this day. While he was known for being relatively quiet and modest, Butch wasn’t afraid to offer guidance (and often a well-timed zinger), whether he was testing a bow or coaching a student. Butch’s input was always honest, helpful, and he had a wonderful way of putting others at ease by making them laugh, no matter the circumstances.

Throughout his career, Butch was also an accomplished bowhunter, saying that the bugling of an elk was one of his favorite sounds. He fondly recalled hunting for axis deer at his brother-in-law Earl’s ranch in Texas, alongside his son Richard; and Butch was proud of the animals he ethically hunted with a bow, including buffalo, elk, whitetail deer, and African kudu. Being outdoors, in nature - even without a bow and arrow - was one of his favorite pastimes.

Butch would often shoot for hours before heading to Hall’s Arrow, work a full shift, and come home to fine tune his archery equipment late into the evening. Weekends would be for tournaments, and - in the fall and winter - cheering on his beloved New England Patriots. Spring and summer meant motorcycle riding, or trips in the Jeep to Cape Cod; Butch also loved boating and fishing when he had the chance.

Butch was an incredibly skilled builder and woodworker, and his loved ones were often stunned at the beautiful furniture he built, with no instruction or diagram - just some inspiration and a willingness to try until he succeeded. Butch would famously say “I had a vision” and the results were always amazing; Teresa often said that while most couples have a “honey do” list, she would have a “honey, please relax” list. Whether taking care of the home they shared, or inventing something to make their lives easier, Butch never stopped innovating or creating. He also loved animals, and doted on the cats he and Teresa shared, going so far as to build disability-accessible ramps for their tripod cat, Maverick.

Later in life, Butch worked with his wife in her photography business, becoming a skilled wedding photographer in his own right. Though he took a break from competing on the national level, he never stopped shooting archery, and could be found in the backyard, or in his workshop, every day - shooting arrows and working on equipment, as he did for his entire, amazing, 53-year career.

Butch is survived by his loving wife Teresa, of Woodstock, Connecticut; his son Richard Johnson III and daughter-in-law Alicia Johnson, and their son Khali, of Columbia, Connecticut; his sister Deana Calkins, and her husband Earl of Cypress, Texas; his sister, Sandi Forester, of McDonough, Georgia; many adoring nephews and nieces; his mother-in-law, Jane Iaconi of Worcester, Massachusetts; and his brother-in-law, AJ Iaconi, his wife Jessica, and their son Luca, of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. Butch is also survived by his longtime best friends, Douglas Denton of Stansbury, Utah, and Christopher Yacino of Whitinsville, Massachusetts, many other loving family members and friends, and an entire world of archers who were blessed to know Butch’s quiet kindness, generosity, humble spirit, and quick wit.

Per Butch’s wishes, no funeral will be held; instead, he requested “a party, with an open bar,” and so a truly joyous celebration of Butch’s incredible life will be held in August. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/The Jimmy Fund.

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

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