NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Rec Therapist, Volunteer Butler Dies

Charles Butler in multi-colored hat
Charles Butler

Charles Delmus Butler, 81, a retired recreation therapist at the Clinical Center and long-time campus volunteer, died June 13 after battling multiple cancers over the past few years.

A native of Maryland’s Eastern Shore who was born near Chestertown, Butler graduated from Morgan State University and earned his master’s degree in recreation therapy from George Washington University.

He spent 18 years in recreation with the D.C. government, where he was first director of the D.C. Therapeutic Recreation Center in southeast Washington. He then came to the Clinical Center’s department of rehabilitation medicine, where he worked for 30 years before retiring in 2006.

He was an active member of many clubs, organizations and charities at NIH, including serving as a volunteer and on the boards of the Recreation & Welfare Association and its foundation. He was also involved with Special Love, Inc., which sponsors Camp Fantastic, a summer camp for children with cancer, for all of its 35-year history, and Friends of Patients at the NIH.

Up until the end of his life, Butler was an active volunteer for R&W programs including the Camp Fantastic BBQ and NIH Night at the Circus. He was also an avid globetrotter who accompanied the NIH Ski and Travel Club on many trips around the world, including the club’s 2015 African Safari, which he refused to miss despite being treated for cancer.

An avid cyclist, Butler regularly completed 20-mile bike rides until 2 months before his passing.

“NIH was lucky to have had Charles,” said Randy Schools, retired CEO of R&W. “He had all of the attributes of what is known as a good person—kindness, loyalty, joy, wisdom, tolerance and compassion. That is what Charles gave us, comfort and care. The strength he brought to the NIH community is immense.”   

“Charles was a true mensch in every sense of the word,” said his CC colleague Debbie Marcus. “His life of service and humility was second to none and he will be missed more than words can say.”

“No one was more committed to helping others than [Butler],” said David Browne of R&W. “The stories of all he’s done for the children with cancer at NIH, his friends, his family and so many others—you’d think he was a saint.”

Butler is survived by his wife Nancy, his children Larry, Cheryl and Dennis, sisters Hilda Hopkins, Doris Woodus and Elaine Roberts, and brothers William Butler and Edward Butler.

Donations in his honor can be made to Special Love Inc., and can be left at the R&W store in Bldg. 31. Proceeds will go towards planting cherry trees at Camp Fantastic in his memory.

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

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