Remembering Don Butters: The Co-op Working-Owner Extraordinaire

Remembering Don Butters: The Co-op Working-Owner Extraordinaire


This article was originally posted on May 5th, 2021. Don Butters passed away on Sunday, October 17th, 2021. Don will be remembered, not only for his contributions to our Co-op, but for the wonderful person that he was. He will be missed by our Co-op staff, fellow members, and the Potsdam community. We send our condolences to his wife, Becky. Thank you Don for your service to the Co-op. Rest in Peace.

Let’s do some quick math…Wait! Don’t stop reading – it’ll be quick. 

One 4 hour shift x 2 days x 50 weeks x 18 years = 7,200 hours of labor. That’s how many hours Don Butters has contributed to the Carriage House Bakery & Deli. 

Don Butters has served as a Working-Owner at the Potsdam Food Co-op for 18 years, beginning shortly after the Bakery opened in 2002. He has contributed over 7,000 hours of skilled work. Not many of us can match Don’s level of commitment and work ethic. Don served as a critical component of the business during periods of increased wholesale sales and staff changes. As he accrued years of experience, Don became trained in the complete production process, from building the fire and baking, to assembling and packaging sandwiches. Don’s impressive dedication, reliability, and knowledge made him a valuable component of the Co-op. Many regular shoppers thought Don was a paid staff member because he was such a steady presence.

Originally from the Boston area, Don worked for IBM in New York City for years and was responsible for some of its national advertising. He is also a Marine Veteran and actively served throughout the 1950s. Don moved to West Potsdam in 1989 and lives there still with his wife, Becky Harblin, a former herb farmer and a nationally recognized pastel artist. 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Don, and many others, to stop participating, ‘in-person’, at the Bakery/Deli. Don says, 

“Covid has made me stop my coop work because I can’t risk working in a small space with that many folks. The virus has held us prisoners but I feel things could have opened up sooner if the people who refused to wear masks and do social distancing had the sense to cooperate with the majority.” We are truly humbled by the contributions Don has made to help further the mission of the Potsdam Food Coop. Once the pandemic is behind us, we plan on inviting our former Working-Owners back into the store/bakery and also bringing new workers on board. The Co-op can only thrive with the contributions of its members.

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