Norman Frank Butler

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Norman Frank Butler (December 2, 1918 – October 8, 2011), was a thoroughbred breeder, polo player and industrialist.[1]

Butler Family biography[edit]

The Butlers are an Anglo-Irish family of Norman origin, who under Theobald Walter became Chief Butler of England and High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1194, and participated in the Irish campaigns of King Henry II of England and John of England. The Butler family established itself in America in 1654, where the family first began to make paper.[2] In 1841, Julius W. Butler founded the J. W. Butler Paper Company in St. Charles, Illinois, which would then become the oldest family owned business in Chicago, Illinois.[3] The family from the success of the Butler paper company, would in the next century diversify into aviation, ranching and real estate. The Butler Paper Company had previously been the first suppliers of paper to the newly formed United States Congress and Senate.[4] Butler paper were also one of the first suppliers of printed money in the United States to the First Continental Congress.[5]

By the mid-20th century the Butler company was one of the most successful private companies in America.[6] The Butler Paper company supplied paper all over the world, Butler Aviation was the largest general aviation company in America and the Butler family real estate holdings included the village of Oak Brook, Illinois and several of the largest cattle ranches in Montana and South Dakota and throughout America.[7] Butler Overseas was responsible for major international projects, including a partnership in the re-building of the Hejaz railway which had been destroyed by T.E. Lawrence during the First World War.[8]

The Butler family was also a major force in polo, owning 14 polo fields in Oak Brook, Illinois and hosting tournaments including the U.S. Open Polo Championship and the Butler Handicap Cup[9] until the present day.[10] The Butlers and Lord Patrick Beresford though their collaboration were responsible for relaunching the Coronation Cup in 1971 at Guards Polo Club, where it is still played today.[11] The Butler family also owned the Butler National Golf Club in Oak Brook, which hosted the PGA Western Open from 1974 until 1990.[12]


Norman Butler was born to industrialist Paul Butler and Sarah Anne Rooney of Co. Mayo, Ireland. His grandfather Frank Osgood Butler and father Paul Butler were prominent American industrialists and founders of Oak Brook Village, Illinois.[13] He was born in New York City in 1918. He attended Hodder preparatory school and Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, England. He later studied Modern Greats at Oriel College, Oxford University.[14]

In 1948 he married Pauline Winn, daughter of Lady Baillie and the Hon. Charles Frederick Winn, of Leeds Castle in Kent.[15] They had two children together, Sandra Butler (born 1949) and Paget Butler (born 1953). They divorced in 1958.[16]

From 1948 until 1960 he worked as a director in the Butler Paper and Butler Aviation companies, and Butler S.A. (South America).[17]

It was also during this time that he played polo in the United States, England and South America.[18]

In 1959 he married his second wife, the Hon. Penelope Dewar, daughter of Lord Forteviot, owner of Dewar Whiskies in Scotland.[19][20] They had three children together, Paul Butler (born 1960), Tiggy Butler (born 1961) and Sean Butler (born 1963). They divorced in 1977.[21]

In 1981 he married his third wife Baroness Gabriella Groger von Sonntag, fashion editor of German Vogue, daughter of Kurt Groger, a German banker and Director of the Dresdner Bank. They had one son, Patrick de Butler (born 1986).[22][23]

Thoroughbred racing[edit]

In 1960 he bought Kilboy Estate in County Tipperary, Ireland.[24] As a Thoroughbred breeder in 1972 he won the classic Irish 1,000 Guineas and the Irish St. Leger as well as the Pretty Polly Stakes with his famous horse Pidget, trained by Kevin Prendergast and ridden by the jockey T. P. Burns.[25] He also worked with Vincent O'Brien and Walter Swinburn among many others during his time as a thoroughbred breeder.[26]


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