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DePauw Mourns the Passing of Longtime Trustee and "Champion" of the University, Rhett Butler '62

DePauw Mourns the Passing of Longtime Trustee and "Champion" of the University, Rhett Butler '62

December 12, 2017

Rhett W. Butler, a 1962 graduate of DePauw University and a member of the Board of Trustees since 1993, died November 22. He was 77 years old.

In addition to a successful business career, Butler served as mayor of Lake Forest, Illinois, and was president of the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.

A native of Oak Park, Illinois, Butler "Butler came by his cinematic name because he was born only months after the opening of the Civil War-era epic," Gone With the Wind, noted a 1999 article in Crain's Chicago Business. "Nurses at the hospital, smitten by the rakish Clark Gable character, lobbied his parents so hard to name the baby Rhett that they eventually relented. Even Chicago newspapers took note of the unusual christening."

A tribute in the Lake Forest Leader states, "Lake Forest thrives today as a highly desirable place in which to live and do business in part due to the vision, tenacity and leadership skills of former mayor Rhett Butler. Alan Henry points out that current mayor, Robert Lansing, presented a resolution at this month's City Council meeting calling Butler "a strong, enthusiastic and kind man who deeply loved his family, community and fellow residents. His contributions to Lake Forest were significant and he will truly be missed." (at left: Butler's senior year photo from October 1961)

The piece notes Butler's dedication to DePauw, and quotes Robert G. Bottoms, president from 1986 to 2008. "Rhett was a great friend to, and champion of, his alma mater. He played a vital role in our strategic planning efforts and was an important force in making DePauw a stronger and more prominent national liberal arts college. While Rhett was loyal to DePauw’s long traditions, he was quite visionary about the changes institutions need to make to remain vibrant and relevant. He loved DePauw, and the university is better because of his contributions."

Butler also served as an alderman, chaired the plan commission, and served on the boards of Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, Lake Forest College, and the Lake Forest Symphony. After graduating from DePauw, he earned an M.B.A. from the J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. (at right: Butler speaking at his 25th reunion at DePauw in 1987)

Survivors include his wife,Kay Burney Butler ’62, and daughters Karen Butler Connell ‘92 and Elizabeth Butler Pruett ‘89. A service will held in Lake Forest in June 2018.

Read the complete article at the newspaper's website.