Finish the Wall (in Memory of Don Butters)

Finish the Wall (in Memory of Don Butters)

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If you are a long-term member of the Potsdam Food Co-op, you probably remember a man by the name of Don Butters. Don was one of our many valuable core-working members who dedicated years of his time to helping us run our Co-op. Don passed away last fall, on October 17th, 2021. I think I speak for all who knew him when I say that we miss him dearly. For those who knew Don outside of Co-op shopping trips and events, you may have known about his extracurricular activity of building a massive stone wall at his West Potsdam home. It was his wish to finish the wall before he died, but sadly he passed before he was able to complete it. His wife Becky would like to honor him with a memorial gathering of friends in which we “finish the wall”.

Part of the stone wall built by Don, looking towards his home in West Potsdam

“We moved here 32 years ago. I built the first wall. Don re-built it bigger and much better the next year. We often joked that stone walls were in his Welsh genetics. He worked on the walls regularly in the autumns and springs. We had lots of stones. There were ‘pyramids’ of rocks in our fields, and he utilized them all! He transported rocks to the different walls by rolling them onto a car hood-a ‘stone boat’ which he towed behind 30+ years of vehicles. Each wall varies in its practical or ornamental use. One wall, which is over 100 ft., he built to curtail and contain my herb gardens. It curves and snakes around and ends to allow for foot or vehicle traffic. We had planned to put gates there to contain the sheep once I closed the herb gardens, but the sheep flock has dwindled. All the walls have a ‘place’ in the scheme of the land. They are designed to work with the terrain and the plans for gardens or views. One wall he curved at my behest so I had a place for a shade garden on the side of our driveway. The last wall he was working on was problematic because he had run out of rocks. Numerous friends offered and some delivered stones from their own fields. Don was always excited by these deliveries because it meant he could continue puzzling the stones together. He always said he could build 10 feet in a day of a 4’ x 4’ wall if the rocks were at hand. But of course he had other things to do as well from volunteering at the co-op, playing bridge on most Monday afternoons, volunteering in several other organizations and helping with our animals.”

– Becky Harblin, Don’s Wife


Save the date: June 18th & 19th, 2022

Location: Don & Becky’s home @ 16 Tanner Rd. Norwood, NY, 13368

“Don often said he had to finish the wall before he died, my response was “you will be building walls and playing tennis for years to come.” Although he personally won’t finish this wall, it seems he will be a catalyst for a gathering of friends-one of his favorite things. Anyone wanting and able to bring rock load before, please contact me. That would be helpful. We will need variety of sizes: from big, to watermelon, grapefruit, lemon, and pebbles. Stop by. No labor needed, share a memory, place a pebble. Look at the walls – tons and tons of rocks. Each one he placed by hand.”

– Becky

Anyone who knew Don is invited and encouraged to join us for this event. We hope to see many of our fellow Co-op members gathering together to remember our friend.


  1. becky harblin

    Thank you to all the people who have already contributed rocks for Don’s wall. And thank you to the co-op for being such an integral part of the community.
    With huge gratitude, Becky Harblin

    1. Jessie LaRose

      We all loved Don!

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