Mary Butler
1940 - 2020
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Mary Butler

Battle Creek - Mary G. Butler, 80, of Battle Creek, died unexpectedly Friday, November 20, 2020. She was born September 23, 1940 in Wilmington, Delaware to James and Marjorie (Parsons) Gilruth.

Mary received her undergraduate degree with Honors from Swarthmore College and her M.A. from the Winterthur Museum/University of Delaware Early American Studies Program. Before coming to Battle Creek she served as Executive Director of the Baltimore, Maryland, Historic District Commission as well as Assistant Director of the Territorial Restoration in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Mary was the Director of the Research Center of Heritage Battle Creek and the Sojourner Truth Institute of Battle Creek, Michigan. She was the author of a recently published biography of Sojourner Truth for middle school students, which was named a Carter G. Woodson Honor Book by the National Council for the Social Studies in 2004. Mary was the founder and editor of Heritage Publications, which has produced a series of eleven volumes of local history as well as monographs and special issues. The publication program has received several awards, including two Awards of Merit from the Historical Society of Michigan and the Award of Commendation from the American Association of State and Local History.

Mary was recognized as a Humanities Scholar by the Michigan Humanities Council and an accredited Architectural Historian by the Michigan Department of Arts and Libraries, Bureau of History.

Mary is survived by her husband, James Butler; her daughter, Katherine Butler; a granddaughter, Alex Koller and a great-grandson, Oliver Koller. She was preceded in death by her parents.

Funeral services to celebrate Mary's life will be 2:00 p.m., Monday, November 30, 2020 at the Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care. Interment will follow at Oak Hill Cemetery. Personal messages for the family may be placed at

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Battle Creek Enquirer from Nov. 23 to Nov. 29, 2020.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
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12 entries
December 3, 2020
Jim, I'm very sorry to learn of Mary' passing. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Renee Hawes (former homeschool friend)
Renee Hawes
November 30, 2020
We will miss your presence, Mary.
You have been a bright gem of our city, Battle Creek.
We are thankful for all you've done for us all.
Phil and Maria
Philip Ptacin
November 28, 2020
Mary will always be with us as she leaves a great legacy of historical information on Battle Creek. A walking encyclopedia, she always had an interesting tidbit to share. I was so sad to hear of her passing. My thoughts are with the family and friends. Mary will be truly missed to never forgotten.
Linda Holderbaum Holderbaum
November 28, 2020
My deepest sympathy for Mary’s passing.
I remember so many great conversations with Mary about the history of Battle Creek.
Cindy Fadel
November 26, 2020
Mary was a true force. Her love of history and archiving, passion and commitment to preserving our community's history will not be forgotten. She was also a terrific writer. What a talent lost to us.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Hon. Sam and Teresa Durham
Teresa Durham
November 24, 2020
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Don and Sharon Gitberg
November 23, 2020
jim,, so sorry for your loss. Memories are so important and hope that you have lots of great ones.bnda3
jim hanson
November 23, 2020
Jim and family, we are so sorry to hear of Mary's passing. Our deepest condolences and prayers.

Kay & Jim
Kay Galloway
November 23, 2020
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories. I think of Mary and her quick bubbling laugh and fun whit. Our thought are with you and your family at this time.
William and Pat Stovall
November 23, 2020
Jim, I'm very sorry to learn of your loss. You have my condolences.
William Stein
November 23, 2020
We are so sorry to hear of Mary's passing. Mary was a brilliant person who did so much for our community.
I have happy memories of Mary through the Suzuki program and Girl Scouts. Marty and I are sending our deepest sympathy.
Sarah Hubbard
November 22, 2020
I am so very sorry to hear about the passing of your dear wife, mother, and grandmother. My deepest condolences to Mr. Jim, Katherine, and Alex
Ruth TenBroek
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