Owner of Butterfield's Motorcycle Parts in Omaha dies at 70

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Bob Butterfield’s love of motorcycles began in his youth. He turned his passion into a 32-year-and-counting business selling Harley-Davidson parts in Omaha.

“He had a paper route. He bought his first bike, a Cushman scooter — I’m not even sure how old he was, 15, 16 maybe? — and he’s been riding ever since,” said his daughter, Becky Butterfield-Mason, 42, of Omaha. “That was his passion. His whole life was motorcycles.”

Butterfield, owner of Butterfield’s Motorcycle Parts in Harold’s Square at Benson Gardens Boulevard and Blondo Street, died Wednesday after being hospitalized for Guillain–Barré syndrome. He was 70.

Butterfield worked as a machinist for Union Pacific Railroad for nearly two decades after graduating from Benson High in 1966. Even before opening his shop, he spent much of his time riding motorcycles.

Ken Davis, 61, remembers Butterfield giving him the motorcycle bug. Davis was 13 years old in the late 1960s, and Butterfield was friends with a fellow motorcyclist who lived up the street.

“As 13-year-old kids, we were standing outside of the fence, just in awe of their camaraderie,” said Davis, now of Yutan. “They let us touch their bikes every once in a while.”

In the mid-1980s, UP wanted to move him to Little Rock, Arkansas. Butterfield preferred to keep his family in Omaha, so in 1985 he bought a motorcycle parts business in Crescent, Iowa, renamed it, and moved it into the city.

Its first location was at 120th and Blondo, between an eyewear store and a hair salon, both of which had elderly clientele made nervous by all the motorcyclists who started hanging around. So after about a year, Butterfield moved it to Harold’s Square, where it remains.

The store specializes in custom and no-longer-produced parts for Harleys and other American motorcycles.

“He could get any kind of part for any kind of Harley — whatever they were looking for,” Butterfield-Mason said. “He always wanted to teach everybody something. … People would call over the phone and say ‘This is broken,’ and he would tell them how to fix their bikes.”

Because of his ability to get parts, he developed a dedicated customer base, much of it outside of Omaha.

“He had friends all over the world,” his daughter said. “He would get the parts in, then he would send mom to the post office and she would mail them to them wherever they were.”

Butterfield-Mason said her father would help anybody. Occasionally someone in a crunch would offer to sell his leather riding gear.

“Even if he didn’t want them (the gear) he would buy them and put them on the shelves, just to help that person out,” she said.

Services are July 29 at 1 p.m., at Heafey-Hoffmann-Dworak-Cutler’s Bel Air Chapel, 12100 West Center Road. In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife, Vivian; son, Paul; and grandson, Roman Mason, 6, who visited his grandpa at the shop almost every workday.

Davis always remembered the role Butterfield played in his life. To this day he buys his parts in Butterfield’s store.

“He touched a lot of people in the community,” Davis said.

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Craig Ballantyne

I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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