John D. Butler obituary photo
 
In Memory of

John D. Butler

May 20, 1922 - June 13, 2017

Obituary


JOHN DAVIS BUTLER SR.



Life Sketch



John Davis Butler Sr. was born in Marbury, Maryland, on May 20, 1922. He was the fifth child of Xavier and Edith Butler. He was eventually part of a family consisting of three brothers (Xavier, John, and LeCount) and four sisters (Doris, Alice, Elaine, and Anita). When John and his fraternal twin, Xavier Jr., were about a year and a half old, the family moved to Washington, D.C. to expose the children to the superior educational opportunities offered by living in the nation’s capital. The family still...

JOHN DAVIS BUTLER SR.



Life Sketch



John Davis Butler Sr. was born in Marbury, Maryland, on May 20, 1922. He was the fifth child of Xavier and Edith Butler. He was eventually part of a family consisting of three brothers (Xavier, John, and LeCount) and four sisters (Doris, Alice, Elaine, and Anita). When John and his fraternal twin, Xavier Jr., were about a year and a half old, the family moved to Washington, D.C. to expose the children to the superior educational opportunities offered by living in the nation’s capital. The family still spent summers in their Maryland country home which resulted in countless adventures for especially the three brothers, including swimming in the “creek”, hunting, climbing trees, and fighting. John related the story of climbing to the top of tall trees as they were getting chopped down, so he could “ride them” as they fell. He also clearly remembered picking a fight with one of his brothers so he could “beat him up” after his brother apparently was less than kind to one of his sisters.



John and his six siblings were all blessed in that they completed high school and earned college degrees. John studied at Union College in 1946, and went on to earn a B.A. Degree, cum laude, from Howard University in 1949. His university education was interrupted by service in the United States Army when he served during World War II from May 1943, to November 1945. He had duties as a medical assistant, company clerk, and chaplain’s assistant. He also was deployed to Europe where he arrived on Normandy Beach about 30 days after D-day.



John married Shirley Mae Ridley, originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, in Washington, D.C. on March 9, 1947. They were to be blessed with two beautiful children: a daughter, Ann Patrice, and a son, John Davis Jr.



John continued his education by earning a Masters degree in French Language and Literature at Columbia University in New York City in 1951. After the birth of their daughter, and with Shirley’s encouragement, the family moved to Palo Alto, California, where John pursued doctoral studies at Stanford University. He earned a joint PhD in two fields: French and the Humanities. It was while there at Stanford that their son, John Davis Jr., was born. Upon completion of his studies at Stanford, John was offered and accepted an associate professorship at Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, where he taught for three years. During his three years at PUC he became a Fulbright Scholar, and was as a result able to study in southern France.



John returned to Washington, D.C. to be near his aging father, and accepted a job at Howard University as Associate Professor and Acting Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages, from 1964 to 1966. He then went on to work at the Institute of Modern Languages in Washington as Director of Division of Language Training, and Vice President for Educational Development, from 1966 to 1969.



He was subsequently asked to join the faculty of the newly established Federal City College in Washington, D.C. He served as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Foreign Languages, and then Chairman of the Division of the Humanities. He then became Dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts at what became known at that time as the University of the District of Columbia. John served as Dean in this capacity at UDC from 1972 to 1988, and from 1988 to 1989 was Acting Vice President for Student Affairs, after which he retired.



John and Shirley joined the Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Takoma Park, Maryland, where John was extremely active. Besides serving on numerous committees of the church, he served on the school board of Columbia Union College, Takoma Academy, and Sligo Elementary School, whose board he chaired.



In addition, he served as General Sabbath School Superintendent, Associate Sabbath School Superintendent, Head Elder, and Elder, and Chairperson of the Gender Justice Committee, and at times as a member of the Social Committee. John was an indefatigable participant in most of the church’s programs, including the administrative board and special conference committees on education and other concerns.



In 2000, John left Sligo Church with a handful of other members, and this group of people constituted the nucleus of a new church which would eventually be called Reaching Hearts International, Inc., which has now become an established congregation, and is on the verge of moving into a newly constructed church building, in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Although he was not able to be present for the official opening, John was recently able to offer a prayer as part of a service in the partially constructed church building.



John’s favorite interests were discussing Bible topics, languages, reading, and good music. He remained physically active, and enjoyed swimming and playing basketball well into his senior years. He loved to cook, try out new recipes, and had a great talent for writing topical rhyming poems. He possessed an attractive and engaging personality and was loved by both old and young. He was gentle, generous, and kind. John was a peacemaker, but was vigorous in confronting injustice. He was devoted to his wife and children and grandchildren, and frequently acted as chauffer for school pickups and activities for his grandkids well into his late 80’s. Most of all, he longed for the coming of the Ultimate Peacemaker who will take His loved ones to heaven where love and peace will reign supreme and last forever.



John passed away peacefully at his home, surrounded by his family, on June 13, 2017. He was the last of his six siblings, and is survived by his wife of 70 years, Shirley; his daughter, Ann Canas; his son, John Butler Jr., (Grace Butler); and his two beautiful granddaughters, Haley Ann, and Lauren Elise.