Funeral service for organ donor murdered in Oakland

December 30, 2011 7:27:58 PM PST
Funeral services were held on Friday for a young merchant Marine who became an organ donor after being shot and killed in Oakland last week.

Charles Butler, Jr. was shot while driving in West Oakland and his vital organs have saved the lives of four gravely ill people.

The memorial on Friday was an opportunity for family and friends to mourn the 23-year-old.

"I didn't speak at my dad's funeral," said nephew Kenyatta Holmes. "I couldn't do it. I just had to do this real quick because he kept me out of the streets."

Butler's smiles were a calling card, and for his closest friends, his videogame skills were legendary.

"Charles smiled through the whole game," said friend Patrick Polk. "And if you remember Charles' laugh...that laugh..."

But his legacy will be his gift of life to others.

Butler was gunned down Dec. 22 just yards from his West Oakland home. Police have yet to make an arrest in the case.

As an organ donor, five of his organs were successfully matched to four recipients, including Daniel Murphy of Antioch and Luke Barnes of the San Luis Obispo area.

Along with the opportunity for family and friends to mourn the passing of Butler, they've also announced two initiatives that will live on in his memory.

The first is a scholarship in his honor. Butler had just graduated from a church-sponsored merchant Marine training program, and the scholarship will help future participants pay the fees associated with the training.

Following news of Butler's gift of life to others, his church has also been contacted by a national donor organization.

"We got a call from the CEO of Donate Life," said David Hartfield with the Praise Fellowship Bible Church, "and we're going to use this to catapult a campaign throughout the African-American community of awareness for organ donation."

Even as the 23-year-old is laid to rest, his family says they plan to keep his spirit alive through their community efforts.


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