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Kenneth Clark Butler

March 12, 1939 ~ December 13, 2018 (age 79)


Kenneth Clark Butler passed away in Sacramento on December 13, 2018 at the age of 79 due to complications from congestive heart failure. Ken was born and raised in Vallejo, Ca, the oldest son of Jack and NormaJo Butler. He graduated from Vallejo HS where he was active in band and sports. In addition, Ken met his future wife Barbara Thomsen at Vallejo HS. They were married for 48 years till Barbara’s death in 2009. Ken graduated from UC Berkeley in 1961 with a BS in mechanical engineering and moved to Sacramento to work for Aerojet General Rocket Company on propulsion systems for the Apollo rocket space program. As the space race wound down, Ken switched to biomedical engineering. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a Masters in biomedical engineering in 1974 and joined the Artificial Heart development team at Aerojet. In 1982, Ken along with his artificial heart department peers, left Aerojet and created Nimbus Inc., a small research and development company dedicated to the advancement of artificial hearts and blood pumps. Under Ken’s leadership, Nimbus Inc. persevered through years of research, grant proposals, clinical trials, venture capital overviews and multiple medical device company takeovers, to develop the left ventricle assistance device known as HeartMate 2. The HeartMate2 has been widely used around world and to date has saved 25,000 lives and counting. Ken had the rare privilege to take a project from inception to a life saving end product. A summary of Ken’s career was captured in an interview he gave at the 2015 American Society for Artificial Internal Organs industry conference, which can be found at . It greatly captures his joy in engineering and zest for life. After Ken’s retirement in 2013 he enjoyed spending time with his family, cooking, listening to music, working out with his friends at Del Norte Country Club and Sutter Health Cardiac Rehab Center, woodworking and collecting woodworking tools. Ken is preceded in death by his wife Barbara Butler, and is survived by his daughter Dr. Lisa Butler, her husband Rick Jones and their two daughters Julia and Emma, son Matt, brothers Retired Captain Joel Butler and Randy Butler, uncle Reg Simerville, and his dear companion Linda Moise. A celebration of his life will be held on February 9, please contact for details. In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial contribution to Sacramento SPCA.


















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