Lyssa and Jeff Butler chose the Northgate neighborhood for its warm weather, good schools, large lots and proximity to BART, but what they have found over the past 20 years is much more than that. They have found wonderful friendships and a great place to raise their family and enjoy so many of the activities they love like golf, hiking and mountain biking.
Lyssa and Jeff met at a country bar in Alameda called Denim & Diamonds. Jeff, who had spent his teen years in Texas, was attending UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law and found that a little two-stepping took the home sickness away. Lyssa, who lived in San Francisco with her country music loving roommate, was up for new adventures. “I went to a rodeo; from there I fell in love with country music, then found myself driving over the Bay Bridge to dance at the honky-tonk,” says Lyssa. “I saw Jeff from afar, and, finally after learning how to two-step, I asked him to dance.” From there, they dated for four years, which included a detour through Manhattan Beach in Southern California. They married on a beautiful September day in 1998 in Healdsburg. They moved back to the Bay Area, to their current Northgate home, at the end of 2000.
Jeff spent much of his childhood living in Mexico and then Texas. He received his Bachelor’s degree in English from UCLA and his law degree from UC Berkeley and has worked for the same law firm, now known as Dentons, for 25 years.
Lyssa is originally from Wisconsin and then Santa Rosa, California. She graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and went on to a successful career in sales. She now is the Territory Development Manager for Best Version Media, the organization that produces this magazine as well as hundreds of others across the U.S. and Canada. “I felt like trying something new, and BVM is a great company,” adds Lyssa. She recruits publishers for the Western region.
Our beautiful open spaces have become Lyssa’s “happy place,” especially when hiking with friends. Jeff also enjoys the hills on his mountain bike with a group of long-time friends. His free time also includes golf at Boundary Oak Golf Course.
Jeff and Lyssa have three teens. They were all born in Walnut Creek and two still attend our local public schools. The oldest, Lily, is studying psychology at UC Davis. Sam and Phoebe are twins, both juniors at Northgate High School. Sam and Phoebe have both adapted to seeing a much smaller group of friends and attending school on-line throughout the pandemic. Sam enjoys both electric and acoustic guitar, while Phoebe enjoys making jewelry and singing. When the kids were younger the entire family enjoyed over 19 years of friendships at the Oak Grove Swim Club.
The Butlers have adopted two ARF rescue dogs, Charlie and Louie. “They are best friends and make us all so happy,” says Lyssa. “They have this funny habit of sleeping on the back of
(that is, on top of) the love seat in the family room. Charlie, who we got first, started this, and then Louie thought it a capital idea and followed suit. Now, we just leave beds on top of the couch and that is where they spend most of the day.” They also have a Birman cat named Zazu. “She is a sweetheart that loves to be held and enjoys teasing the dogs,” adds Lyssa.
Tahoe has always held a special place in the hearts of the Butler family. They started going there when the twins were just a year old since it was a place they could go to without having to take three toddlers on an airplane. They fell in love with Tahoe in the summertime and have been staying in the same cabin on the west shore almost every year. In addition to their Tahoe tradition, the Butler family has adopted the one Lyssa’s parents started many years ago of spending a long weekend or two every year in Sea Ranch. They have years of Sea Ranch memories and will be there this September celebrating Lyssa’s parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. They also had a chance to take the kids, once they were older, to Europe and from time to time take them to Hawaii.
What the Butlers love most about Northgate is the amazing group of friends they have met, mostly through their kids’ activities. “We are so thankful to our dear friends that have been our village throughout the years.”
And if anyone should need some lemons, the Butlers have a prolific tree and are happy to share.
By Kara Navolio, Resident since 1991
Photo by Julie Cheshire
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