Harry Butler, R.I.P.

When he campaigned for a seat on the Grand Junction City Council this past spring, Harry Butler knew he was up against two opponents, one of whom was part of the slate of candidates endorsed by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and had substantial advertising money. Even so, Butler chose not to spend any money on his campaign.

The fact that Butler won that election, giving him a seat on the council for the second time, surprised many people. But Butler didn’t gloat or berate his opponents. He remained the same quiet, humble man he had always been, whether winning elections or suffering unexpected losses.

Butler’s death Sunday at the age of 69 was an unexpected loss for the City Council and this entire community.

At a time when politics, even at the local level, seems too often defined by giant egos, massive spending and scorched-earth strategies toward opponents, Butler represented the opposite — a quiet, self-effacing man who always seemed more interested in serving his community than pursuing his ambitions.

And, in an age of Anthony Weiners, Mark Sanfords and Rick Brainards, the ordained minister and active member of the Handy Chapel and other religious groups — yet someone who refused to turn his religion into a central part of his electioneering — seemed an anachronism in modern politics.

Butler made friends with many people of very different backgrounds. His four years on the City Council prior to his election this April, his eight years on the District 51 Board of Education, his efforts with the Handy Chapel and his many years of working on behalf of youngsters at the Jobs Corps and elsewhere all demonstrated his commitment to the community where he grew up and where his ancestors settled shortly after Grand Junction was founded.

Harry Butler will be deeply missed.


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