Public funeral held for longtime, former Marion Mayor Bob Butler

Funeral for Bob Butler

MARION, IL (KFVS) - A public funeral service for former Marion, Illinois mayor Bob Butler was held on Tuesday, April 30.

Visitation was at the Marion Civic Center on Monday, April 29 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Tuesday, April 30 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The service is at the Civic Center on Tuesday at 1:30.

Rev. Bill Rucker with First Christian Church Disciples of Christ, Butler’s Church, delivered a poignant message. “Today I want to talk about Bob, I want to talk about Louetta’s Bobby - Not as a mayor, I want to talk about the husband, the father, the brother, the uncle, the church member, Elder Emeritus, the Sunday School Teacher,” he said.

The honorable G. Patrick Murphy gave the Eulogy. He said he knows a brave man when he sees one. “I have been to war with brave men, I know what brave men are. Bob Butler, was a man, who at best I could tell, feared nothing or no one,” Murphy said.

In a closing statement, Jared Garrison explained how many lives he touched. “How lucky we are to have known him. worked with him, worshiped with him, loved him, and had him at the helm of our city," Garrison said.

Funeral arrangements for Butler are with Mitchell-Hughes Funeral Home in Marion.

Butler passed away at 9:30 a.m. Monday, April 22, according to the City of Marion.

The following arrangements have been made in honor of Mayor Emeritus Robert L. Butler. Monday April 29, 2019 from 11am...

Posted by The City of Marion Illinois on Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Mayor Emeritus Robert L. Butler, 92, was one of the longest-serving mayors in the United States. He retired from office on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 and Anthony Rinella succeeded him.

We talked to him in 2018 about his retirement. He said longevity brings consistency.

“I want to be remembered by one who did his best. I’ve tried to do the best I could at the greater interest of the people in Marion," he said.

If he had finished his term, Monday would have been former Mayor Bob Butler's last day in office. (Source: KFVS)
If he had finished his term, Monday would have been former Mayor Bob Butler's last day in office. (Source: KFVS)

Mike Absher the newly sworn in mayor of Marion says he feels like he knew Mayor Butler his whole life, since Butler was the mayor of the town seven years before he was even born. Mayor Absher remembers him as a polite and gentle person and has many fond memories of him.

Absher says that Butler had shared many stories and advice over the years on his tenure in office. He was shocked and deeply saddened by the news of his passing, and says that he had defined the town in so many ways.

“I just hope its a reminder that not only of all that he meant to the community, I hope that its a reminder to the family all that he meant to the people,” said Mayor Absher. “I think that its just one more opportunity to appreciate just everything he was to our town.”

Former Mayor Anthony Rinella said the irony is that if he had served his whole term, Monday would have been his last day and Mike Absher would be sworn in.

“He was a boss, he was a mentor...but most importantly he was a friend, and a good one at that,” Rinella said.

He truly left his mark on his hometown.

“He’s the only mayor they ever knew until they had to step down," Rinella said.

April 22, 2019 is not only swearing-in day for the newly elected mayor, but it’s a day now etched in Marion City history.

“He was always such a part, a big part of the city of Marion," Marion City Clerk Alice Rix said. “It was a joy, a pleasure and certainly an honor to get to work him him.”

A Marion city commissioner has been friends with Butler for 75 years. John Goss recalled a mayor who commanded respect.

“He could pick up the phone and speak to whomever he wanted, they all talked about Butler...see that’s a big deal," Goss said.

Mayor-Elect Mike Absher said, “Just the signature he left on this town will be here forever.”

Newly retired police chief Dawn Tondini remembered his candidness.

“He told it like it was, I mean you know, he told it like it was, you always knew where you stood with him," she said.

“I just say thanks for being my friend, my mentor. He was my mentor on the council...I followed his lead and was never sorry I did," Commissioner Goss added.

Lawmakers commented on Mayor Butler’s passing:

“Very sad to hear about the passing of former Marion Mayor Bob Butler. Mayor Butler was the longest serving mayor in the history of Illinois and served his community for over 50 years. He will be deeply missed.”
Senator Tammy Duckworth
“I was saddened to learn about the passing of beloved former-Marion Mayor Bob Butler. He was a man passionate about his community and dedicated to his position. Anyone who met Bob knows what a great and caring man he was, and words cannot begin to express what a loss this is for our community. He was a good friend of mine, who served as a mentor during my career. I will miss him deeply. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this sad time.”
Senator Dale Fowler
“I was saddened to learn of the passing of long time Marion Mayor Bob Butler this morning. Mayor Butler epitomizes the word public servant. He gave more than 54 years of dedicated service to the city of Marion and to the people he represented. Despite the fact that he was growing in age, the world around us changed dramatically during the time Mayor Butler was in office. But, Mayor Butler maintained an incredible level of energy well into his 80s and early 90s. His ability to implement new strategies, and adapt to technological to try to build a better city of Marion is part of the reason the city is an economic driver in the region. Today, Southern Illinois has lost a friend, a neighbor and dedicated public servant. I wish the very best to Mayor Butler’s family and to the people of the city of Marion on this day of reflection and celebration of Mayor Butler’s life and contributions.”
Rep. Patrick Windhorst
“As a resident of Benton, I was never one of Mayor Butler’s constituents, but for most of my life as a child and an adult, there was only one man that everyone knew simply as “Mayor” in Southern Illinois. That man is Bob Butler. I am sadden today to learn of the passing of a man that dedicated so much of his life to the community that I am now proud and humbled to serve.
Rep. Dave Severin
“To say Mayor Butler was a giant in the world of Southern Illinois politics would be an understatement. Bob Butler, or just ‘Mayor’, as so many fellow Southern Illinoisans knew him, was a tenacious and dedicated public servant. He gave so much of his life to bettering Marion, and because of his hard working during more than 50 years of service, the entire region is better off. My thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to the people of Marion, and most especially to Mayor Butler’s friends and family on his passing today.”
Rep. Terri Bryant

City of Marion offices will be closed at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30 for the duration of the normal business day so that our employees can attend Mayor Butler’s Memorial Service.

City services will resume in full capacity on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at the normal start of business.

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