Roy Butler

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Roy Butler
Mayor of Austin, Texas
In office
Preceded by Travis LaRue
Succeeded by Jeffrey Friedman
Personal details
Born March 31, 1926
Greenville, Texas
Died November 13, 2009(2009-11-13) (aged 83)
Austin, Texas
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Ann Butler
Residence Austin, Texas
Profession Businessman and politician

Roy Anderson Butler (March 31, 1926 – November 13, 2009) was an American politician and businessman, who served as the Mayor of Austin, Texas, from 1971 until 1975.[1]

Butler was the first Mayor of Austin to be directly elected by city voters.[2] Prior to Butler's election in 1971, Austin's mayors were chosen and appointed by the Austin City Council.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Roy Butler was a native of Greenville, Texas, where he was born on March 31, 1926.[2] [3] He was the only child of his mother, a homemaker, and his father, an officer in the United States Army.[4]

Butler served in the United States Navy during World War II.[3] Following his departure from the U.S. Navy, Butler earned his bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Texas in 1948.[2] He attended the University of Texas School of Law for three years, but left school before earning his law degree in order to join the automobile business.[2]

He met his future wife, Ann Showers, on a blind date while at the University of Texas. The couple married six months later.

Butler was described as a close friend of former United States President Lyndon B. Johnson.[3][4]

Business career[edit]

Outside of city politics, Butler owned and operated several prolific Austin area businesses.[1]

After leaving law school, Butler opened his first car dealership located at 45th and Lamar in Austin.[2] The business grew to become the Roy Butler Lincoln-Mercury dealdership.[2] Butler owned the dealership from 1960 until 1976, during which Butler Lincoln-Mercury became the largest Lincoln dealership in Texas and Oklahoma at the time.[2]

Butler won the rights to the Coors Beer franchise in Central Texas in 1976, beating out approximately 2,200 other applicants.[2] His Coors beer distributor franchise, now called Capitol Beverage, currently distributes more than forty beer brands throughout four Texas counties, as of 2009 - Caldwell County, Hays County, Travis County and Williamson County.[2]

Butler co-founded the local branch of Cellular One, which is now known as AT&T Wireless.[2] Cellular One was the first cell phone provider in Austin.[2] He also owned two Austin area radio stations, KVET and KASE-FM.[1] Under Butler, KVET and KASE-FM expanded into a multi-state radio group, whch Butler sold in 1999.[2]

Former Austin Mayor Bruce Todd credited Butler as one of the developers most responsible for transforming Downtown Austin.[2] Butler established some of the first, and most important commercial developments in the neighborhood, which eventually attracted new residents and businesses to the area.[2] Butler was responsible for leasing a building he owned at the corner of Sixth and Lamar to both Whole Foods Markets and the GSD&M Idea City ad agency, both of which are headquartered in Austin.[2] With the addition of another tenant, Book People, Butler's property became an important site which attracted people to downtown Austin.[2]

Political career[edit]

Butler served as a member of the Austin school board for nine years prior to being elected to his first term as Mayor of Austin in 1971.[1]

Butler became the first Mayor of Austin to be directly elected by city voters in 1971,[2] defeating the incumbent Mayor Travis LaRue 65.29% to LaRue's 15%.[5] He was handily re-elected for a second two-year term as Mayor in 1973, receiving almost 44,000 votes. Butler's nearly 44,000 total in 1973 election still holds the record most votes ever cast for any Austin mayoral candidate in history, as of 2009.[1][2][4]

Butler expanded and modernized the Austin Police Department.[4] He also spearheaded efforts to build a nuclear power plant in South Texas and construct the Texas State Highway Loop 1 (MoPac Boulevard) on the west side of Austin.[4] The two proposals brought Butler into political conflict with Austin's environmentalists, who had emerged as a force in the city during the 1960s and 1970s.[4]

During his tenure as mayor, Butler was able to recruit former United States First Lady Lady Bird Johnson to team up with his wife, Ann Butler, to establish the Town Lake Beautification Committee.[2] Before Ann Butler and First Lady Johnson began their work the lake, located in Austin, was in a state of neglect and polluted with trash and overgrown weeds.[2] KTBC described Town Lake before Butler's efforts as an "eyesore".[2] Efforts by Johnson and Butler transformed Town Lake, and the adjoining Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail, into one of the most important recreation areas in Austin.[2][4] Town Lake was renamed Lady Bird Lake in 2007 and the Hike and Bike Trail was renamed Butler Trail in 2012.

Contrary to some beliefs, Austin's Butler Park is not named for Roy Butler.[6]

Later life[edit]

Butler was a strong advocate of law enforcement.[2] On August 28, 2009, the Austin City Council and the Austin Crime Commission renamed a police academy in honor of Butler and his work in support of the police.[1][2]

Roy Butler suffered two broken vertebrae in a fall in early November 2009.[1] He was taken to the University Medical Center Brackenridge and listed in critical condition.[1] Butler died from complications of his injuries approximately one week later on November 13, 2009, at the age of 83.[1]

He was survived by his wife of 61 years, Ann,[1][2] and three children - Roy Butler Jr., Edward Butler and Beth Granger.[2] As well as his grandchildren: Charles Granger, Louis Granger, Roy Granger, Sheridan Butler and Grant Butler.

Butler's memorial service was held at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library in Austin on November 19, 2009.[2]

Butler's predecessor as Mayor of Austin, Travis LaRue, who served as Mayor from 1969 until 1971, died on Saturday, November 14, 2009, just one day after Butler's death.[7]

In Memoriam[edit]

On November 3, 2011, the Austin City Council, in recognition of Roy Butler's civil service and contributions to the community and City of Austin, including the revitailzation and improvement of Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake), approved a resolution naming the "hike and bike trail" surrounding Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin as the "Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail."


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Coppola, Sarah (2009-11-13). "Former Austin mayor Roy Butler dies". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 2009-12-18. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab "Former Austin Mayor Roy Butler Has Died". KTBC. 2009-11-13. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  3. ^ a b c "Service Thursday for ex-Austin Mayor Butler". Associated Press (Denver Post). 2009-11-16. Retrieved 2009-12-18. [dead link]
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Coppola, Sarah (2009-11-14). "Roy Butler 1926-2009: Austin remained former mayor's business, Civic, political, philanthropic reach stretched well beyond his years at helm in '70s". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 2009-12-20. 
  5. ^ "Office of the City Clerk - Election History April 3, 1971". Austin Office of the City Clerk. Retrieved 2009-12-20. 
  6. ^ Barnes, Michael (2009-11-14). "Roy Butler remembered". Austin 360. Retrieved 2009-12-20. [dead link]
  7. ^ "41st mayor of Austin dies at age 96". News 8 Austin. 2009-11-16. Retrieved 2009-12-18. 

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