Waynesville, Butch Sursavage, age 77, passed away on Tuesday, December 26, 2023, at his residence.
A native of Swain County, he was the son of the late Joseph George and Ruth Russell Sursavage. Butch was a kindhearted father and generous husband whose joy, humor, and devotion provided a caring home for his family and the numerous friends, students, and other frequent visitors. While he was a teacher, mentor, coach, and outdoorsman, his life and time were most clearly defined by his love for his savior Jesus Christ and the service to others that followed naturally from it.
Raised in beautiful Andrews, NC, he was an outdoorsman and athlete from an early age. A star athlete and member of the Andrews High School Athletic Hall of Fame, he went on to play football at Clemson University, where he was a two-time all-ACC selection as a defensive end before graduating in 1968.
He married his high school sweetheart, Mary Cooper, on August 17, 1967, beginning their 56-year journey together. The couple lived and worked in Western North Carolina until they felt called as missionaries to Bangladesh in 1972. There they were blessed with their daughter, Karen, in 1974. After returning to North Carolina, their son, Mark, was born in 1980, and the family lived primarily in Andrews until relocating to Columbia, SC in 1991 and retiring to Waynesville, NC in 2012.
Butch worked as a teacher, coach, and administrator throughout his professional life, receiving his Master’s of Divinity from Columbia International University and applying his Christian principles to his work with students and colleagues. His youthful spirit enabled him to connect with mentees and his love for others was apparent in his gentle but gregarious demeanor.
Butch loved to spend time in nature, hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting throughout his life. He grew up fishing mountain streams, spent countless weekends camping with his family, and loved the fellowship of hunting trips with his friends. At age 70, he and Mary hiked 100 miles in the Great Smoky Mountains to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the national park where he’d spent so much time.
He was an active church member and loved to spend time with other believers and in praise of his savior. He served in a variety of roles in different congregations as a deacon, fellowship group host, and missions team leader. His Christian faith was predicated on putting into practice the principles he studied and held dear.
To know Butch was to see love put into practice. While he will be greatly missed, his example and joyful spirit have left an everlasting impression on those who knew him.
Butch is survived by his beloved wife of 56 years, Mary Sursavage, of Waynesville: daughter, Karen Sursavage, of Cullowhee; son, Mark Sursavage, of Rocky Mount, North Carolina; sister, Katherine Holman, of Black Mountain; brother, Jim Sursavage, and his wife, Mary, of Florida; nieces, Fig Holman and Lisa Cooper; nephews, Bud Holman, Russ Kirkland, Tommy Cooper, and Wesley Cooper; and a great-nephew, Andrew Cooper.
A memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 6, 2024, at Cornerstone Fellowship Church with Reverends Shayne Powell and Bobby Young officiating. The church is located at 224 Barber Hill Siminole Dr., Waynesville, NC 28786. The family will receive friends following the service in the fellowship hall.