Tireless fund-raiser ‘Joker Joe Caruso’ dies aged 87

Joe Butler, also known as Joker Joe and Joe Caruso.
Joe Butler, also known as Joker Joe and Joe Caruso.

A WELL-KNOWN Flamborough man whose cliff-top joke signs entertained many and helped raise thousands of pounds for a Yorkshire charity, has died.

Joe “Caruso” Butler was famous in the village for displaying jokes on his ever-changing line of stones on the cliff-top walk at the end of his garden on Flamborough’s North Landing, which amused generous visitors for years and helped him collect more than £20,500 for Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Known to many as ‘Joker Joe’, Mr Butler died peacefully, aged 87, at his home in Marine Valley, Flamborough, last week. This follows the death of his wife Joyce, who died in May this year, and they leave one son, Graham, two grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Joe was a former member of The Magic Circle at Scarborough and Doncaster, and was an ex-miner who spent 30 years at Thorne and 10 years at Kellingly Colliery.

He also spent 15 years in the Civil Service working for the RAF at RAF Bomber Command based at RAF Lindholme, before retiring to Flamborough.

It was only last December that Joe, also known by his stage name “Joe Caruso”, decided to slow down and take down his jokes after raising exactly £20,519.80 for Yorkshire Cancer Research.

In 2008, Joe was told he had one month to remove his well-known joke signs after East Riding of Yorkshire Council said it had received a number of complaints from people claiming the signs detracted from the area.

They ordered The Wildlife Trust, which owns the land, to move them but after an appeal from Joe and publicity in the Free Press, they relented and the signs remained.

Jan Jagger, chairperson of Yorkhsire Cancer Research, said: “Joe started fundraising for Yorkshire Cancer Research in 1988 and as a charity we will always be indebted to him for the time and energy he put in over the years to raise in excess of £20,500 for Yorkshire Cancer Research.

“He was a most generous man and our condolences go to his family.”

Mr Butler’s funeral service will be held on Thursday September 20 at Octon Crematorium at 1pm, at then at the Caravel in Flamborough. Donations to Yorkshire Cancer Research can be made in lieu of flowers.