Cover photo for James Howard Butts's Obituary
James Howard Butts Profile Photo
1935 James 2022

James Howard Butts

May 6, 1935 — December 6, 2022

James Howard Butts, 87, of Newport News, VA transitioned on December 6, 2022 surrounded by his loving family.

James Howard was born on May 6, 1935 in Sedley, VA to the late Howard and Lucy Ricks Butts. James Howard’s mother Lucy Ricks Butts died 8 days after the birth of him. James Howard “Peter” was raised by both the Ricks and Butts families making him rotten and spoiled by his, Father, Aunts and Uncles, and maternal and paternal Grandparents. He was the oldest grandchild born in the Ricks Family making him the oldest cousin to many.

James Howard was an active Disciple in his Church until his health started to fail. He served in many ministries of the Church, however, serving as Deacon for God’s Kingdom was one of his greatest accomplishments. Deacon Butts loved the Lord and everyone that know him knew his favorite song “There’s A Bright Side Somewhere”. Always ready to sing this song at a drop of a hat. Deacon Butts retired from the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock, with over 30 years of service in 1995. You could ALWAYS count on Deacon Butts to do anything you asked of him, and he would go out of his way to help you, just asked. Deacon Butts was a cheerful giver of anything he had because he was blessed, and he enjoyed blessing others.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Lucy Ricks Butts, father, Howard Webster Butts; and stepmother, Rosetta Johnson Butts; sister, Essie Lee Ricks Freeman and brother-in-law, Guy Freeman, Sr.

Deacon Butts is survived by the love of his life of 67 years, Vernell Tonkins Butts, daughter, Lucy Butts-Watkins (Donald) of Smithfield, VA; son, James H. Butts, Jr. (Sherri) of Carrollton, VA; grandchildren, Chris Watkins (Shirlwin) of Chesapeake, VA, Dr. Daphne Watkins-Jacobs (Paul) of Ann Arbor, MI, James “Jay Jay” H. Butts, II, of Norfolk, VA, and Sherena Willford, Carrollton, VA, great-grandchildren, Jordyn Watkins and Jaxon Watkins (Chesapeake, VA), Quinn Jacobs and Clayton Jacobs (Ann Arbor, MI) and Jeremiah Butts of Florida; brother-in-law, John “Wallace” Tonkins of Waverly, Va.  and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends scattered across the United States. Devoted friends, Juanita Scott (Atlanta, GA) and Elder Sarah Hatton and Elder Wayne Hatton (Chuckatuck, VA).

A Celebration of Life Service will be held 11:00am on Wednesday, December 14, 2022 at Tabernacle Baptist Church East End in Newport New, Va. Viewing will take place on Tuesday, December 13, 2022 from 4-6pm at the chapel. Please keep the Butts family in your prayers.

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

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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Thursday, December 15, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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