Robert L. Butler was born on January 23, 1927, and died on April 22, 2019; he served as the Mayor of Marion, Illinois from May 1963 until he resigned on January 31, 2018, for health reasons.
At the time of his resignation, Robert was the second longest-serving mayor in the United States. Commissioner Anthony Rinella succeeded him.
Robert associated with the Republican party, but is, classified as an Independent due to his paleolibertarian-paleoconservative stances on issues.
His maternal grandfather. J. H. Clarida served as mayor of Marion from 1923 to 1927 and, for a time, was the Police Chief.
Robert’s father, Homer M. Butler, served on the local school board and city commission, then spent 16 years in the state Legislature during the 1940s and ’50s. Butler grew up in Marion and graduated from Marion High School.
As a youth, Robert earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the local Boy Scout troop and served on summer camp staff in 1943 at what would later become Ferne Clyffe, State Park.
That summer he became a charter member of the Ney-A-Ti Lodge, the local chapter of the Order of the Arrow honour society in Scouting.
Robert was the son of Homer and Eva (Clarida), Butler. His father served six years on the Marion City Council starting in the 1930s.
His maternal grandfather J. H. Clarida served as mayor of the city in the 1920s during the Bloody Williamson era.
He worked in the United States Army Counter Intelligence Corps following World War II in Japan and Korea. He graduated from the University of Illinois Law School in 1952.
Robert served as an assistant state’s attorney in Williamson County under State’s Attorney Carl Sneed from 1954 to his election as mayor.
On April 12, 1960, he received one write-in vote for the Democratic nomination for state’s attorney. His boss, also a Republican, won the Democratic primary with 45 write-ins.
Marion adopted a zoning ordinance in December 1958. The following month the city council created the Marion Planning Commission and named Butler as one of seven members.
In July 1961, Robert outlined the commission’s agenda as additional off-street parking, new water mains and extensions, shopping centres, the courthouse and fire protection.
Robert called the location of the county courthouse in the centre of the square “a detriment to the business community.”
Robert Butler passed away on April 22, 2019, at 9:30 AM CDT in Marion, Illinois. On the same day, newly elected Marion mayor Mike Absher was, sworn into office, the first time a mayor-elect other than Butler sworn into office since 1959.