Sharon was born Nov. 29, 1945 in Kerrville, Texas, as Nelda Sharon Rawls. She passed away at home with her family by her side on Jan. 17, 2014. Sharon was born to Raymond Haines Rawls and Lucille Candace Freeman Rawls.
Sharon was raised in Kerrville, and attended Tivy High School and graduated from American High School in Chicago.
In 1965, Sharon met the love of her life, a Navy sailor, Larry James Butler. They were married Feb. 27, 1965, in Kerrville. After Larry was discharged from the Navy, they moved to Denver, where Larry worked for Stanley Aviation. Their two oldest children, Candice and Raymond were born. In 1970, Larry transferred to Hurricane, Utah, where their third child, Barbara was born.
In 1974, they packed up their three kids and two dogs and moved to Kingman, where they have lived ever since. Larry went to work at the Kingman Police Department, where he eventually became chief of police. Sharon worked at the sheriff's office as a dispatcher, Mohave County Probation Department, and the motor vehicle department.
In 1980, Sharon went to work as a highway patrol officer, the job she loved. This was a time in history when there was a lot of doubt about a female working the Arizona highways. It didn't take Sharon long to prove that she was born to be a highway patrol officer. Her arrests and activity were always in the upper half of the district.
In 1995, she was shot and beaten during an arrest of two illegal alien drug smugglers outside of Kingman on I-40. She survived and continued to work for two more years after the shooting.
Her career highlights include being awarded the Purple Heart, selected for Women Making History, Citizen of the Year by the Elks, Officer of the Year for the Drug Interdiction Team, being awarded the Ace Award for the number of stolen cars captured, being part of the Pope's security detail when he visited Phoenix, and being selected for the National Police Hall of Fame.
Her greatest accomplishment was being a K-9 officer with her canine partner, Tessa. They were responsible for finding thousands of pounds of drugs and recovering thousands of dollars in drug moneys. Sharon worked with the MAGNET Drug Task Force for several years, a team that went after the drug dealers. Her partner, Tessa, died in 1995 from cancer.
After Sharon retired in 1997, she and Larry enjoyed traveling, doing a lot of cruises. They even lost track of how many but believe it was 20 cruises.
Sharon was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in 2006. She battled it for seven years, going to Mayo Hospital and Clinic in Phoenix on a weekly basis. Realizing recently, the battle was being lost, she returned to Kingman, being welcomed in the Kingman Regional Medical Center Hospice Program, one of the greatest organizations our family has been part of.
Sharon was preceded in death by her father, Raymond Rawls; mother, Lucille Rawls; brother, Royce Rawls; sister, Ramona Rawls; and niece, Celia Parry. She is survived by her husband of 49 years, Larry Butler; daughters, Candice Huerta (David), Barbara Corlis (Christopher); son, Raymond (Donnell); nieces, Robin Handley, Elaine Schwabb and Sherylene Parry Day; and numerous cousins, but closest with Linda Cross and Irene Housen. She has 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
She was very proud of the career law enforcement officers in her family. Her husband Larry, police chief; her son Ray, DPS captain; son-in-law David, DPS officer and JP; grandson Ryan, police officer; and Jason, just hired to be police officer. She was equally proud of her daughters Candice, a registered nurse, and Barbara, a small business owner. Sharon had many friends in Kingman, in Arizona and throughout the U.S. There are too many to try to name, but she loved them all.
Sharon was told she was clear of cancer several times but it always managed to return. During the last days, the cancer paralyzed her but she never became depressed about it. She said, "you don't have to have legs to walk among friends." While being confined to bed, she continued to make new friends with Praise Chapel and Hospice. She is loved by many and missed by all. She is in a place where she will see old friends and make new ones. Sharon was a legend.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, at the Praise Chapel, 419 Harrison St. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the 100 Club of Arizona, 5033 N. 19th Avenue, Ste. 123, Phoenix, AZ 85015, or call 602-485-0100. This organization assists families of fallen officers and firefighters. You may also donate to KRMC Hospice Care.