Robert Butler was born Jan. 23, 1927 at 704 N. Garfield to Homer and Eva Clarida Butler. He has one brother, James William, younger than he.
Bob attended Jefferson, Logan and Washington schools as well as Marion Township High School, graduating with the class of 1944. Even though WWII was raging, Bob managed to attend the University of Illinois under the Accelerated Wartime College Program for two semesters before entering the Army. He served in the 971st Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment in Korea prior to the Korean War before rejoining the civilian ranks.
After the war he returned to his studies and attended Southern Illinois University for a year and then transferred to University of Illinois. He graduated with a law degree in 1952 from the University of Illinois and along the way he married Louetta Sanders from near Pittsburg in 1951. He and Louetta became the parents of one daughter, Beth Ann.
He returned to Marion and became Assistant State's Attorney for the County of Williamson serving until 1963 and got his indoctrination into the world of politics. Bob had not been immune to politics as his well-known father was the long time columnist for the Marion Daily Republican. His father had also been a State Legislator for many years and had also served on the Marion City Council and the Marion
High School Board. In addition to his fathers' political knowledge, his maternal grandfather, J.H. Clarida, had previously served as Marion's Mayor in the mid 1920's.
In the local election of 1963, the citizens of Marion elected Robert Butler to be their Mayor, probably not realizing that the man they elected would be their Mayor into the 21st century. Mayor Bob may very well become the longest serving Mayor in Illinois. Bob recalls that his very first City Council meeting was cut short due to one of Marion's largest commercial fires on the southeast corner of the square when several businesses burned.
In addition to his duties as Mayor and maintaining a law practice, Bob found time in 1970-1971 to serve as a delegate to the Illinois Constitution Convention that met in Springfield for about ten months. The constitution hammered out at this convention still serves Illinois to this date.
Under his solid leadership the City of Marion and even surrounding areas have prospered. Marion has expanded geographically greatly to almost twice its size in 1963. The population has greatly increased and Marion maintains is position as the economic and cultural leader of Southern Illinois. Bob's leadership qualities probably were not tested as much as they were subsequent to the tornado that struck Marion in 1982 when he lead the city out of the terrible destruction
to even greater heights.
Perhaps Bob's signature accomplishment was when he renamed Marion to be "The Hub of the Universe" a name that rivals that of Boston, Mass. It is hoped Bob will be leading our city for many years to come.