Sparrow's James W. Butler III laid to rest at Arlington

Published: May 27, 2022

LANSING, MI – In advance of Memorial Day, community leader and Sparrow legend James W. Butler III was laid to rest with honors during a touching service at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.

In a service attended by a wide range of people reflecting his impact -- from loved ones, community, political and business leaders, and members of his Sparrow Family -- Butler was recognized for his extraordinary service to his country. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army who served in Vietnam, receiving many commendations, including the Combat Infantry Badge, Army Commendation Medal, two Purple Hearts and four Bronze Stars. His perilous experience in Vietnam led him to one day vow to devote himself to helping others.

Butler died in Aug. 7, 2020, of congestive heart failure. He was 77.

Butler served as chair of the Sparrow Health System Board of Directors and was involved in numerous community groups, such as the Sparrow Physicians Health Plan board, Dr. Martin Luther King Commission of Mid-Michigan, the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, and many others. He received numerous honors in his lifetime and his contributions to the community were unparalleled.

Butler championed access to high quality care for the most vulnerable and led efforts toward the state’s first medical clinic for the homeless. He received the 2018 Sparrow Founders’ Award, the highest honor bestowed by the health system.

James Butler III, Memorial Service, May 2022
James Butler III, Arlington Cemetery, May 2022

In his honor, Sparrow created the James W. Butler III Administrative Fellowship. Sparrow created the Fellowship in part to address the need for diversity and inclusion in healthcare leadership, a major issue throughout the country.

The first Butler Fellow, Tolulope Adedokun, attended the service at Arlington National Cemetery and said she was struck by the varied mix of friends, colleagues and loved ones who attended.

“It was amazing to see all of these people in the same room to celebrate his life and honor the life he lived,” she said.

Adedokun said she was also amazed at Butler’s wartime experiences and bravery.

“His life and his sacrifices were definitely not in vain,” she said. “He really lived by that principle of giving back and taking care of people throughout his life.”

For more about the James W. Butler III Administrative Fellowship and his legacy at Sparrow, go to


Sparrow Health System is Mid-Michigan’s premier healthcare organization and includes hospitals in Lansing, Carson City, Charlotte, Ionia and St. Johns, as well as Sparrow Specialty Hospital, Physicians Health Plan, Sparrow Care Network, Sparrow Medical Group and the Michigan Athletic Club. Sparrow is affiliated with Michigan Medicine through the Sparrow Children’s Center and with Michigan State University’s three human health colleges. Through these partnerships and the dedication of our 10,000 caregivers, Sparrow pursues a vision to be nationally recognized as a leader in quality and patient experience. For more information, visit