In Memory

Karen Butler (Saito)

Karen Butler (Saito)

Karen Butler Saito

November 26, 1941 - July 16, 2022

Matthews, North Carolina - Our beloved mother passed away peacefully on July 16, 2022. Karen Ann Butler was born on November 26,1941 to the late Samuel Eugene Butler, Sr and Kathleen Beeton in Alexandria, VA. She was a graduate of Boyden High School in Salisbury, NC. She attended the University of GA. While she was a freshman, she met a dashing Japanese Graduate Student in 1960. Kazuro Raymond Saito and Karen were married on September 2,1962. They raised their 3 daughters in the Darby Acres area of Charlotte and later moved to Matthews in 1977 where their 4th daughter was born.


Karen returned to college as an adult student, earned her BA and graduated with her MA in Early Childhood Education from UNCC in 1973. She spent 26 years as a kindergarten teacher at Lakeview and Rama Rd Elementary Schools. She was a 4-H Club Leader and later became Horse Bowl and Horse Judging Coach. She was honored as the North Carolina State 4-H Horse Program Volunteer of the Year in Raleigh in 2000. Later in life, she drove a horse carriage for pleasure and in shows. She served as Secretary for the Carolina Carriage Club. She recently reflected that she wanted to be remembered as "the girl who loved horses".

In retirement, Karen was able to care for grandchildren and attend their activities, travel to Japan, visit family across the United States, participate in sports at the Senior Center and join many Family Reunions in Virginia. She was somewhat of a medical miracle surviving heart and kidney problems for over a decade.

While Karen depended on Ray for many caregiving duties during her four years on dialysis, she was by his side and assisted their daughters during his short battle with pancreatic cancer. After our father's passing, Karen and her dog, Dottie, moved to Willow Grove Retirement Community. They made lots of new friends there. She enjoyed the hummingbird feeder and patio garden that her daughter, Aimee created and maintained for her. Karen attended the musical entertainment, book club and craft activities offered by the senior living center. She was perplexed when a favorite holiday sweater from the 80's, won her a 1st place medal in the Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest.

We would like to thank Mom's medical and home care teams for their excellence and compassion. Please go to for more details of Karen's life and for the family's expressions of gratitude.

Karen was preceded in death by the love of her life, Kazuro Ray Saito, her parents, her brother, Rev. Douglas Butler and her sister-in-law, Glenda Butler. She is survived by brother, Samuel Butler, Jr. of Lilburn, GA, sisters-in-law; Sarah Butler of Winston-Salem, NC, Fukuko Hamada of Oiso, Japan and Kumiko Saito of Chigasaki, Japan. Daughters: Dr. Angela Saito (Jeff Donaldson) of Mt Pleasant, SC, Michelle Brewer (Buddy Brewer) of Harrisburg NC, Aimee Saito (Jimmy Wright) of Charlotte and Joanna Saito (Scott Betz) of Bolivia, NC. 11 grandchildren: Zach Donaldson (Meghan), Devin Donaldson, Adam Brewer, Madison Brewer Steigerwalt (Luke), Abby Brewer, Branson Brewer, Lawson Brewer, Cameron Wright, Alex Wright, Jack Betz and Graham Betz. 1 great-grandchild: Murphy Saito Donaldson.

Memorials may be made to Cokesbury UMC, 6701 Idlewild Rd.Charlotte, NC 28212. McEwen-Mint Hill is entrusted with arrangements. A Celebration of Life is planned for July 30, 2022 at 1 pm at Cokesbury UMC. 6701 Idlewild Rd. Matthews, NC 28105. A reception will follow. Interment of Ray and Karen's ashes will be private.