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.
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.
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:
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.