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Barden, Arlin

Arlin “Butts” Barden, age 97, passed away peacefully on April 10, 2024

at Bethany Home in Waupaca, WI, with his sons by his side.

Butts was proud to have spent much of his life in service. He enlisted in the Army at age 18 and fought in World War II as a member of a mortar squad, earning a Bronze Star Medal. When he returned, he joined the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King as a firefighter and rose through the ranks to Commandant through hard work and dedication. Butts was the longest-serving Commandant in King’s history, a role he held from 1965 until his retirement.

Butts married Betty Borchardt in 1947, and they remained married for over 60 years until her passing in 2008. Together, they raised two sons, Bill and Bob. Butts loved to hunt and fish, and taught multiple generations of his family to enjoy and appreciate the outdoors. He loved living in Waupaca, and spent 92 years of his life there. He gave back through active membership in a number of veterans’ and community organizations, including the American Legion, VFW, DAV, and AmVets. He held leadership positions on the Bethany Home board of directors and at Trinity Lutheran Church, where he was a longtime member.

Butts was preceded in death by his parents, Wallace and Iona Barden; his wife, Betty; his brothers-in-law Gus Zadra, Irv Rehbein, and Leroy Borchardt; and numerous friends. He is survived by his sisters Arvilla Rehbein and Carol Zadra; his sons Bill (Betsy) and Bob (Peggy); his grandchildren Beth (Chuck) Bornhoeft, Brad Barden, Kristin (Andy) Paluch, Megan (Alex) Pickett, and Jeff (Jenessa) Barden; five great-grandchildren; and many more relatives and friends.

A celebration of life will be planned this summer. In lieu of flowers, donations would be appreciated to the Waupaca Library or the Honor Flight Network.

A special thank you to the staff of Bethany Home for their thoughtful kindness, generosity, and humor, particularly Butts’s good friend Casey “Charlie” Brown, who always made time for him. Thank you as well to Heartland Hospice for providing compassionate care and support over the last several weeks.

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