MARION: Retired Marion County Sheriff John Butterworth, 63, the county's longest serving sheriff, passed away peacefully February 20, 2014 at home surrounded by his family. He had waged a valiant, yearlong fight against esophageal cancer.
Born April 3, 1950 in Marion County to Hazel (Bradshaw) and Frank Butterworth, John spent his entire life in Marion but was happiest relaxing with friends and family at his Lake Erie home in Marblehead.
He married the former Phyllis Sherrer at Emmanuel Lutheran Church on April 12, 1985. They later repeated their vows at St. Mary Catholic Church. His wife survives; as do two sons, John B. (Laura) Butterworth of Mansfield, Robert H. Butterworth of Dublin; two grandchildren, Colton Frank and Gabrielle Mya Butterworth of Mansfield; a sister, Doris Decker of Marion; and a brother, Paul (Nancy) Ferguson of Marion.
He was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, Tom Ferguson; and granddaughter, Isabella Butterworth.
An active member of St. Mary Catholic Church, John served as an extraordinary minister and lector. The 1968 Harding High School graduate also attended The Ohio State University
. He was inducted into the Harding High School's Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame in 2009.
Since 2006, John worked for the Ohio Department of Public Safety's Division of Homeland Security, serving as the division's Regions 1 and 4 Coordinator to its Strategic Analysis Information Center. In 2007, he authored the Northern Border Initiative, which unites state, local and federal law enforcement partners for a safer border along Lake Erie.
Sheriff Butterworth served residents of Marion County as their chief law enforcement officer from January 1981 through July 2004. During his tenure, he facilitated growth of the office into a modern, forward-thinking law enforcement agency with extensive local, state and national reach. Under his leadership, Marion County's first 911 emergency system was implemented.
He began his career at the Marion County Sheriff's Office on June 30, 1969 as a Dispatcher, working his way through the ranks over the years. He served as a road officer, detective and sergeant of detectives before being elected sheriff in November 1980.
John was a member of the National Sheriffs Association and was a past president of the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association (BSSA). He authored the Ohio State Sheriffs Qualification Act that became state law. John authored the NSA's position paper used as testimony before the FAA and the Transportation Security Administration for rules qualifying unarmed volunteers on aircraft.
Upon his retirement as sheriff, John formed JP Henry Consulting LLC, a firm with clients across a wide spectrum of law enforcement disciplines that included teaching curriculum development, best practices and policy issues.
An active member of the Marion community, Sheriff Butterworth was Vice President of Marion Technical College's Development Fund Board of Directors, as well as an MTC community faculty member. He also was a member of the Marion County Children Services Board.
The family will host calling hours from 3-8 p.m. Monday at the John M. Boler Activity Center, 590 Forest Lawn Drive. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Mary Catholic Church. A private family graveside service will be conducted at a later date. Gunder/Hall & Folk Funeral Directors is handling arrangements.
Memorial contributions may be made to Marion General Hospital Foundation's Hospice Fund or the Spirit of HOPE Fund, 268 Barks Road West, Marion, Ohio 43302. John and Phyllis started the Spirit of HOPE Fund in October 2013 to help Marion area cancer patients with expenses not typically covered by insurance. Donations to either fund also can be made online by visiting https://www.ohiohealth.com/givingtomariongeneral/