Charles H. Butler, 94, a 60 year resident of East Providence, passed away on Thursday, March 4, 2021, at the Phillip Hulitar Hospice Center in Providence after a brief illness.
He was the husband of the late Gwendolyn P. (Johnson) Butler to whom he was married for 67 years.
Born in Providence, he was a son of the late Clarence A. and Sarah L. (Morris) Butler.
Mr. Butler was a traffic manager for Smurfit Stone Company before retiring at the age of 80. As a youngster, he played baseball at Central High School under renowned coach Walter “Pard” Pierce and concurrently starred for his neighborhood team the West Elmwood Raiders. Upon graduation, in 1944, he entered the United States Army and served with distinction during World War II stationed on Okinawa. Upon his release in 1946, he resumed his ballplaying career as a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher for the city’s black semi-professional team, the invaders. Later, in 1949, he helped the first truly integrated amateur team in the city’s history, the Circle Athletic Club, win the Independent Amateur League championship. As the team’s premier pitcher, he helped lead the team to a 20-2 overall record. Butler, a versatile athlete played the outfield when not on the mound. In 1951, he joined a very select group of athletes, both black and white, to represent the state in the National Baseball Congress World Championship in Wichita Kansas. Mr. Butler remained an active and avid golfer and tennis player. On Saturday’s he would play tennis on the clay courts at Roger Williams Park with his friends. He was a member of the men’s Bowling League at East Providence Lanes with a bowling average of over 250. Mr. Butler was to be inducted into the Rhode Island Hall of Fame in September of 2020, not only for baseball but for his humanity. Unfortunately because of the pandemic, the induction was postponed until May of this year.
He leaves one daughter, Nancy A. Hardy and her husband Leonard of Rumford, one granddaughter, Adriana N. Johnston of Riverside, one grandson, Leonard H. Hardy, III of Illinois, one great-granddaughter, Raven Johnston, one brother, Victor Butler of North Providence and many nieces and nephews. He was the brother of the late Clarence M. Butler, Alton Butler, Louise Armstrong Walker, Kenneth Butler and Catherine Lewis.
Calling hours will be held on Sunday, March 7, 2021, from 2-4 in the PERRY-MCSTAY FUNERAL HOME, 2555 Pawtucket Avenue, East Providence. His funeral services and burial will be private. The guidelines set forth by the Rhode Island Health Department will be observed. Face coverings are required and only 15 people will be allowed in the funeral home at one time.