On a hot summer day, Richard Love Butler Jr. and Dail Brown Butler welcomed the birth of their 7th child, Henry Lee Butler Sr., on Sunday, June 19, 1955. He was born in the Sweet Home Community of Prescott, Arkansas, where many tight-knitted families collectively worked and worshipped together.
His father and mother toiled hard to support his family. They taught Henry the value of hard work and the responsibility of a man to support his family. As a young boy, Henry worked on the family farm where they raised field corn, grew vegetables, and red meat watermelons. The Butler family worshipped for generations at Sweet Home Baptist Church, where he accepted Christ at a young age. Religion and the church were extremely important to Henry. He was a curious and thoughtful child who distinguished himself early as an athlete. Aside from church, sports had a major impact on his development as a young man. He attended Prescott High School where he exhibited great sportsmanship and character. He ran track and played the corner back #83. His talents helped lead Prescott High School to District 7A State Championships in 1970, 1972 and his senior year 1973. “Lucky” as he was commonly known was trustworthy, loyal, friendly, courteous, obedient, thrifty, clean, and brave.
Henry began a long career with Firestone on April 24, 1974 as an ARA Utility. He held several positions including, Prep Cutter, Crosshead Utility and Tuber Utility. In 1984, he bid to the shipping department, as well as, the Finishing Department before transferring to Flashing. He was promoted to salary as a Calendar Operator in February 2014. He retired after 42 loyal years to Firestone Building Products.
Despite knowing each other socially, since their teens, the relationship sparked and Henry asked Shelia Livingston to be his wife. They were married on May 22, 1976, and the family settled in the Sweet Home community. Henry instilled those same hard work values in his boys that his father instilled in him. His 44-year marriage to Shelia was one of constant travel, adventure, friendship and love, as seen in the upbringing of their three handsome sons: Henry Jr., Channing, and Jason. They lived life to the fullest and they encouraged others to do so, to “let loose” from pretense and inhibitions.
On April 21, 1996 he was ordained as a deacon by Mt. Zion Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. Joe Battle. Henry and Shelia united with the Munn's Chapel Baptist Church family on Sunday, October 25, 2019.
MSG Butler served and retired as a member of the 379th Infantry Regiment, 95th Infantry Division, located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. His Military Occupational Specialty. (MOS) was Infantry 11B. He was an “Infantryman”, which is defined as being the “Backbone of the Army” being ready to defend our country in peacetime and war. He also extended his military career and became an expert in the Total Army Instructor Training Course (TAITC). This allowed him to use his professional military training to train and teach other veteran Soldiers and new servicemen and servicewomen. After the September 11, 2001 destruction in New York, SFC Butler was mobilized during Phase I in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Phase II in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Throughout his military career, he received numerous awards and promotions. His last promotion was to the rank of Master Sergeant in 2005. Upon his retirement in 2013, he still found the time to mentor younger Soldiers.
In later life, after his final retirement from Firestone and a full and rewarding military career, he took advantage of his all-time hobby, deer hunting. He finally had time to revamp parts of the Butler Farm, and most recently leaving a legacy of instructions for growing yellow meat watermelons. He served as past president and treasurer of the Ila Upchurch Corp; secretary of Boyz II Men, and the president of the Sweet Home Cemetery Memorial Association.
After three weeks of family and friend visits, picture taking and laughs, he transitioned from this life at his home in his wife’s arms on Wednesday, October 28, 2020. He was greeted by his parents; his brother, Rev. Albert G. Butler; sisters: Hattie Ford, Mattie Gamble, Ethel Redic, Cee Lee Butler, Manor Lee Butler; his beloved son, Channing Love Butler, and his grandsons, Channing Love Butler Jr. and Maleric Butler.
Though Henry Lee is no longer with us in body, his irreplaceable presence will be deeply missed, and his legacy of strength and integrity will live within our hearts forever. Henry leaves to cherish his memories: his irreplaceable wife, Shelia B. of Prescott, AR; loving children, LaKesha (Erick) Carpenter of Diamond Bar, CA; Henry Jr. (Millicent) Butler of Radcliff, KY; Jason (Sarah) Butler of Maumelle, AR; and Ray Smith of Ft. Worth, TX; his daughter-in-love, Marquita Butler of Texarkana, AR; his goddaughters, Jackie Matlock of Arkadelphia, AR and Terri Whitt of Texarkana, AR; his godson, Johnny Burton; 15 grandchildren and a great-granddaughter expecting, Amiyah Esme’ LaBoy; his sister, Rebecca Nixon of Texarkana, AR and his brother, Richard Love Butler Jr. (Lottie) Butler of Kansas City, MO; his sister-in-law, Minnie Butler of Prescott, AR; his father-in-law, Lester (Dorothy) Livingston Sr.; sisters-in-law, Carolyn (Billy) Johnson from DeSoto, TX and Belinda Blue from River Forest, IL; his brothers-in-law, Lester Livingston Jr. and Terry (Sheila) Livingston; and close friends, Harding and Hyacinth Deon of Prescott, AR. He also leaves a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives, friends, the Munns Chapel Baptist Church Family, the 153rd Infantry and the 95th Infantry Divisions.
A celebration of his life will be shared at 1:00 p. m. on Saturday, November 7, 2020 at Prescott High School Football Field with Rev. Kyle Jones, officiating.