He was a columnist in Gadsden newspapers for over two decades.

He was a broadcaster on radio stations there.

He interviewed country stars Randy Owens, Little Jimmy Dickens and Earnest Tubbs — and told tales of all.

He was a broadcaster of Gadsden-area sporting events.

He and his late wife were foster parents to over a hundred children in need.

He was a voter registrar for Etowah County.

He was a motivational speaker.

He wrote the book, "Alabama's First Radio Stations."

To his family and friends, he was "Shug."  

Harry D. "Shug" Butler died Sunday in Gadsden at age 90. He was with his beloved daughter, Sydney Butler Gunter, at the time of his death. Arrangements will be announced.

Shug was the father of State Rep. Mack Butler of Etowah County. Mack Butler told the story today of the last week of his Dad Shug's life:

“Last Sunday night after a great Father’s Day visit with my dad, Connie and I headed out of town to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary never knowing that would be the last time I would see my dad. I am so thankful he felt well that day and we all were able to spend time with him.

“He was known as Shug to everyone but I had the privilege to call him dad also as it was such an honor to be his son. Last Monday he started to decline but would get better late in the day. As we traveled the northeast, we checked in with him each day and updated him on our whereabouts as he was familiar with all of our stops.

“I was able to call him last night (Saturday) and enjoy a long visit as we relived a family vacation he took us on to the same area nearly 50 years ago. His mind was still sharp as he reminded me of events from our trip to Bar Harbor those many years ago.

“He was still working as recently as a couple days ago. We changed our flight last night to come home today instead of tomorrow but early this morning while driving from Bar Harbor to Boston we received a call that my dad had gone to sleep last night but awakened this morning in Glory.

“My dad was literally my best friend and I spoke to him every day. From him I learned the value of hard work, laughing easy, loving hard, how to be a husband, how to be a father, and the importance of forgiveness and faith.

“He served our nation in the armed forces, served his community, served his family and most importantly served his God. Harry D Butler and my mom opened their hearts and home to almost 100 young people needing a place and to be loved.

“The Bible tells us that when we pass we are gathered unto our people and I know my mom Anne Fite Butler was there anxiously waiting on him with open arms. I love you Shug with all my heart and look forward to our reunion in Glory. Thank you for loving me and always being my biggest cheerleader. I also am so thankful for my sisters and the way they took care of Shug since losing our mom. My sister Sydney was with him when he entered Heaven’s Gates, and I am so grateful he was not alone. Thank you everyone for the prayers and love shown to our family during this difficult time. I love you Harry D Butler.”

Lauren Butler Mayben, a daughter of Shug and sister of Mack Butler, said:

“It’s an understatement to say that linguistics run strong in our family, and yet I’m struggling to articulate this message.   Our beautiful, gifted and talented, and beloved Daddy, “Shug” met His Savior early this morning. 

“Because of Shug’s relationship with Jesus, 2 Corinthians 5:8 reminds us that, We are confident of this one thing—that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Yes, we are absolutely grieving, but we’re so thankful and can also rejoice through our tears for the hope that salvation through Jesus brings.”   

Shug is father to Sydney Butler Gunter, Debbie Butler Pope, Laurie Butler Mayben and Rep. Mack Butler, and he has 13 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren. He also has about a hundred "honorary children" he raised as a foster parent.

An abundant legacy.

 Jim' Zig' Zeigler's beat is the colorful and positive about Alabama. He writes about Alabama people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at ZeiglerElderCare@yahoo.com.

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