Jim Button, co-founder of Calgary’s Village Brewery, dead at 59

Condolences are pouring in following the death of Jim Button, who co-founded Village Brewery, one of Calgary’s most well-known and beloved craft brewers. 

Button died Thursday following a years-long battle with kidney cancer. He was 59. 

Button’s death was announced on his blog, Gather with Jim, in a post titled, “I Died Today.”

“From the moment I first found out I had terminal cancer, I’ve understood that I live a full life, a life with few regrets, and a ridiculous amount of adventure, and an equal amount of love, gratitude, and friendships galore,” he wrote. “So I’ve never been afraid of this day, nor should you of yours.”

Village Brewery posted a tribute to Button on its website, describing him as a passionate community builder propelled by a seemingly boundless energy and deep interest in developing people and their talents. 

He even once held a swab-a-thon at Village Brewery to help a childhood friend battling leukemia find a match for a life-saving transplant. 

“He set the tone and the standard, and for that we will be forever grateful,” the brewery’s tribute said. “He was, and will continue to be, our north star.” 

Jim Button, his wife, son and daughter sit on a line of boulders in a park setting.
Jim Button is survived by his wife, Tracey, his son, Jack, and his daughter, Amanda. (Submitted by Jim Button)

Diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2014, Button underwent treatment to remove one of his kidneys. Two years later, the cancer had returned, and the doctors told him to get his affairs in order. 

“Nothing really prepares you for that moment,” he told the CBC News in 2019. 

In response, Button continued to focus his energies on building community. He worked to raise millions of dollars for a Chair in Pediatric Psychosocial Oncology and Survivorship at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine. 

For Button, giving back was important, a pillar in his approach to life. 

“You get back tenfold what you put out in terms of goodness,” he wrote in his final blog post.

The principal guided his work at Village Brewery, which gives 10 per cent of its bottom line back to the community through art, wellness and music initiatives. 

“I think it’s going to be an imperative for all businesses in the future,” he told the CBC News four years ago. “If you aren’t a private enterprise acting like a social enterprise, I think you will fall behind.”

News of Button’s death sent ripples through social media, where many Calgarians described him as a mentor, an inspiration and a dear friend. 

At the end of Button’s farewell blog post were words of counsel: Be kind, keep space for good stories, go for walks outside and put down your phone and have deep conversations. 

Lastly, he said: “Enjoy each and every single day to the hilt cause you ain’t promised tomorrow.” 

Button is survived by his wife, Tracey, his son, Jack, and his daughter, Amanda.

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