Butler leaves behind legacy of good in Madison and the county

Butler leaves behind legacy of good in Madison and the county


MADISON — Jim Butler is being remembered for leaving a legacy of good.

James Harold “Jim” Butler, a custom homebuilder and the husband of Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler, died on Friday. He was 74. 

He is remembered by many for his work in helping grow Madison County, literally and metaphorically. 

“Everybody leaves a legacy, either for good or for bad,” Bishop Jerry Dillon of Parkway Pentecostal Church said. “Jim Butler left a legacy of good. He helped a lot of people and that legacy of good will follow him as it has and always will. 

“He was a friend to a lot of people,” he continued. “He was a builder. He built more than just houses, he built faith, and that’s what we’re all supposed to do.”

Dillon said Butler was a very humble man, adding that “He helped a lot of people that nobody ever knew about.”

Butler, a graduate of Madison-Ridgeland High School and Mississippi State University, would later go on to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army Reserves. After that, he became a representative for Mississippi Farm Bureau and a lobbyist for the Mississippi Power Association. Butler became a custom home builder and is regarded as “one of the best” in the metro. 

Rick Webster, owner and CEO of Key Constructors in Madison, said Butler was one of the most honorable men he’s known. 

“He built my house,” he said. “He built our office. He built my father’s home. He built a lot of custom homes and never rang his own bell.”

Webster knew Butler for over 30 years, saying he helped mentor him when he started his contracting business. 

“He would talk to you like a man,” Webster said. “Growing up, when I first met him coming up in this business, Jim was real quick to call you out on something. If Jim told you he was going to do something, he did it.”

Webster credited Butler for having the same vision as Mayor Mary, saying they helped grow Madison into the city it is today. 

Madison Alderman Janie Jarvis said she had known Butler for over 25 years, echoing what others have said about his homebuilding and legacy in the community. 

“He was extremely talented and was a perfectionist,” she said. “He was such a hard-working, honest builder and everybody still loves the houses he built for them. He had no enemies and was just a prince of a man.”

She said one of the most recent memories she laughs about was Butler’s affection for shopping at Sam’s Club.

“Jim loved Sam’s,” Jarvis said with a laugh. “Mary would get taken aback with him because he would buy stuff in bulk even though it was just the two of them. He just loved to go to Sam’s.”

She said during a four-month stint they bumped into each other several times at the exact same spot in the store. 

“It was hysterical,” she said. 

Jarvis said that Butler’s love for Mary and vice versa was unmatched. 

“He absolutely adored Mary,” she said. “I mean, he could not have adored her any more than he did. It was just fun to watch her tell stories and he would just belly laugh, no matter how many times he had heard the stories. He got more entertainment and joy out of spending time with her. He was so full of life and always had a smile on his face.”

In addition to Hawkins-Butler, Butler is survived by his sons James Bradley Butler of Livingston, Texas, and Joseph “Joe” Richard Butler  (Gretchen) of Madison, grandchildren Isabel, Knox and Layla, and siblings Pat Truesdale of Ridgeland and brother Eddie Butler (Jill) of Ethel. 

Funeral services were held Monday at First Baptist Church in Madison and followed by a private graveside service. 

See the full obituary here.

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