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Former Marion Mayor Bob Butler dies at 92

Monday, Apr 22, 2019


Former Marion, Illinois mayor, Bob Butler, passed away at 9:30 a.m. Monday, April 22, according to the City of Marion.

Emeritus Robert L. Butler, 92, was one of the longest-serving mayors in the United States. He retired from office on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 and Anthony Rinella succeeded him.

We talked to him in 2018 about his retirement. He said longevity brings consistency.

“I want to be remembered by one who did his best. I’ve tried to do the best I could at the greater interest of the people in Marion,” he said.

Former Mayor Anthony Rinella said the irony is that if he had served his whole term, Monday would have been his last day and Mike Absher would be sworn in.


In 2015, he was presented with the Lifetime of Service award from the Illinois Municipal League.

“He was a good friend of mine. I confided in him a lot, especially when I was mayor of Harrisburg,” said Sen. Dale Fowler, (R-Harrisburg). “I’m saddened but so respectful of his service.

Several southern Illinois legislators and community leaders reacted Monday to news of Butler’s death.

West Frankfort Mayor Tom Jordan told News 3, “He was the consummate mayor. If you looked up mayor in the dictionary, his picture would probably be there.”


Butler first took office in May of 1963. When he retired, he was the second-longest serving mayor in the United States. He was the longest serving mayor in the state of Illinois.

Butler’s death comes on the same day Mike Absher is to take the oath of office and be sworn in as the new Marion mayor. Absher won the April 2nd election, beating Anthony Rinella, who had served as Acting Mayor since Butler’s retirement.

* Marion Republican

Butler was the driving force behind the city’s west end development and Marion’s rebirth following the devastation of the 1982 tornado.

Butler said that once the city was back on firm ground financially, it was just a matter of enhancing an already good product. “I never dreamed of having a cultural and civic center like we have today or a top-notch recreational facility like the Hub or a gathering place like the Pavilion,” he said.

“In the back of my mind, I knew something good could happen here … as long as we didn’t stand in our own way.”

He was also a delegate to the state’s constitutional convention.

* Related…

* Former Marion Mayor Bob Butler died Monday at 92. Here are 90 facts about Butler, who was mayor for more than 50 years.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Alex Ander - Monday, Apr 22, 19 @ 4:09 pm:

    He was a great mayor for the city of Marion. Even though he was a Republican, he was friends with, and worked with both sides of the aisle to get things done for his city. Mike Absher has big shoes to fill but will get things done too.

  2. - Saluki - Monday, Apr 22, 19 @ 4:12 pm:

    Bob Butler was one of a kind. A good man, and a great Mayor.

  3. - Anon - Monday, Apr 22, 19 @ 4:30 pm:

    ===Butler said that once the city was back on firm ground financially, it was just a matter of enhancing an already good product===

    The city’s use of TIF financing and how those TIF programs have worked would be what many consider to be the opposite of a firm financial ground.

    Using future property tax levies to pay developers to build buildings short changes the ability to fund, develop, and maintain critical infrastructure projects and result in higher property taxes for all of the other residents of Marion.

    The city also lacks a master plan which is unusual seeing as the city has a full time planner.

  4. - So_Ill - Monday, Apr 22, 19 @ 4:34 pm:

    ==Former Mayor Anthony Rinella said the irony is that if he had served his whole term, Monday would have been his last day and Mike Absher would be sworn in.==


  5. - Dotnonymous - Monday, Apr 22, 19 @ 5:06 pm:

    Ninety-Two…that’s a good long run.

  6. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 22, 19 @ 7:32 pm:

    ===that’s a good long run===

    I can’t remember who it was, but a person about that age was interviewed several years ago who said something like “It’s not that it felt so long, it’s that it felt so short.”

    In the end, all memories seem like yesterday.

  7. - Southside Markie - Monday, Apr 22, 19 @ 8:06 pm:

    Bob Butler. We won’t see his likes again soon. Really good mayor. Really good guy. Also, Rich Miller: Really well said.

  8. - Dotnonymous - Tuesday, Apr 23, 19 @ 12:01 am:

    In the end, all memories seem like yesterday.

    In the end, all memories seem like yesterday.

    The phenomenal passage of time is so very mysterious…and so often bittersweet.

    Life is shorter than I thought.

  9. - Give Me A Break - Tuesday, Apr 23, 19 @ 8:33 am:

    I once took a state agency director on a tour of our southern Illinois offices. John Bradley arranged a meeting with him and Mayor Butler, he was in his late 80s at the time, and sharp as a tack and educated all of us on the history of Marion. It was awesome.

  10. - Jon Musgrave - Tuesday, Apr 23, 19 @ 9:13 am:

    Anon, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Marion only uses its property tax levy to pay for retirement funding. In a region where most communities are in decline Marion continues to grow. Butler’s attitude was to never rest on one’s laurels. Always keep focus on the next project. If there was an area where the city didn’t keep up it was comprehensive planning. They have never had a full-time planning director. There used to be one that had planning in the title but he was really just an economic development official hired following the 1982 tornado.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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