South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

Mister Butler, founder of Elder-ado, Knoxville Y director


Last updated 2/4/2013 at 5:10pm

Art Butler, Sr. (left) with State Rep. Jake Wheatley

Arthur M. Butler, Sr., left a legacy of devotion to important community organizations serving both seniors and youth. But those who knew him said that he always put his family first--and advised others to do the same.

“He’d say ‘Take your vacation days,’ you’re family’s more important than anything,” said Janet Kirik, a supervisor with the Elder-ado--a senior services Mr. Butler helped found.

Steve Hutter, executive director agreed.

In a remembrance he penned for Mr. Butler, Mr. Hutter wrote: “I learned from Mr. Butler the importance of God, family and community in one’s life. Balancing all three was not easy but a constant challenge.”

Mr. Butler was always available for advice, Mr. Hutter continued: “Through those challenging times I would call Mr. Butler, who also said, ‘I am just a phone call away,’ and we would discuss the challenge and develop a strategy to successfully handle that challenge.”

Elder-ado’s tagline is “For Life’s Golden Years.” The name is akin to the mythical Spanish El Dorado realm ruled by a gold-gilded king. But though Elder-ado was close to Mr. Butler’s heart, far from acting as a king, Ms. Kirik described him as “very down-to-earth.”

“He loved to attend all our functions,” said Ms. Kirik, who works in the Mt. Oliver headquarters of Elder-ado, a place where seniors can get blood pressure checks, learn about assistance for home heating bills, play Bingo and enjoy lunch together.

Mr. Butler was also remembered fondly as a disciplinarian who earned young people’s respect and appreciation as the longtime director of the Knoxville YMCA.

“He kept all the kids in the area. If anybody got out of line, he would say ‘Go home,’” said Ann Scharding, a retired district judge and mother of three daughters. “He was the mentor for a lot of young kids.”

As one sign of the recognition of Mr. Butler’s leadership, Judge Scharding said “All my kids remember him as ‘Mister Butler. There was never a nickname for him.”

Comments on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s guestbook back up Judge Scharding’s words--with several people writing about Mr. Butler’s role as a trusted guide and describing him as “Mr. Butler.”

Mr. Butler died at age 83 on Monday. Jan. 28. He leaves behind his wife, Bessie, four children, 10 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, as well as three sisters-in-law and four brothers-in-law.

Mr. Hutter said Mr. Butler was a resident of Beltzhoover for more than 50 years, was a physical education instructor for St. Canice High School and Senior Warden at both St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and the Church of the Holy Cross, a historic African-American, Episcopal congregation on 7507 Kelly Street, where his life was celebrated on Saturday morning.


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