Robert Hilton Butler, Sr. , of Woodville, Mississippi, passed away on December 16, 2018 at the age of 89.
To send flowers in memory of Hilton Butler, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.
He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Omah Borden Butler; his 3 daughters, Brenda Priddy (Jim), Sue Evans, and Patti Varner (Kendal); his daughter in law, Cydney Lee Butler, his brother, Curtis Butler (Betty); his grandchildren, Amy Priddy, Sam (Jaimie) Priddy, Robbie Peavy, Jim (Trudy) Peavy, Jeremy (Heather) Evans, Chad (Melissa) Butler, Trampus (Angela) Butler, Cody (Mandi) Butler, Savannah (Matthew) Pacobit, Lindsey Dooley, Lyndsay Varner; his 23 great-grandchildren, Jaylan and Austin Priddy, Taylor (John) McGrath, Tyler (Amber), Tara Beth, Bransley, Blanche, Aubree and Rhett Hilton Butler, Dax Doyle, Taylor, Zayn, Blaze, and Harley Peavy, Savannah and Ariana Rioux, Paige Boudreau, Bryce and Justin Thomas, Morgan Sparks, Skylar and Raine Minor, Grayson Pacobit-baby to be born January 2019; and 7 great-great-granchildren, Stewart Mcgrath, Eli Hilton and Adalee Butler, Kingston, Karter, and Kamden Peavy.
He was preceded by his father, William Samuel and mother, Tiny Pearl Butler; 7 sisters and 4 brothers; his son, Robert Hilton “Bubba” Butler, Jr.; his son-in-law, Jerry Evans; grandson, Joseph Varner; great-grandson, William Bransley Butler.
Pallbearers will be Mike Mulkey, Kaycee Rosso, Robert Tycer, Johnnie Bert Dixon, Joe Lee Norwood, Jr., Bill Hawkins, Joe LaMartiniere, and Orville LaMartiniere; honorary pallbearers will be David Tygress, Billy Travis, Darrel Vannoy, Howard Pace, Dale Dawson, Rick Andries, Glenn Hawkins, Howard Varner, Sherwin Revere, Joe Lee Norwood, Sr., Bobby Oliveaux, Johnny Butler, Alvin Patin, Jim Dupree, Jack Donnelly, and Jimmy Cruze.
Having the distinction of being the first person to work his way up from a rookie security officer to warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, Robert Hilton Butler continued to serve the state and community through his contributions as resident historian for the Louisiana State Penitentiary Museum. A native of West Carroll Parish in North Louisiana, Butler has been married to his wife, Omah for 70 years. The couple had three daughters and a son.
Hired at Angola on December 8, 1952, at a salary of $250 per month, during a time when the prison had segregated camps, violence was rampant, and The Times-Picayune in New Orleans called the prison a “sewer of degradation” for its treatment of inmates, the former struggling farmer’s primary goal was providing for the his young family.
Training was nonexistent in 1952, so Butler learned on the job. From the beginning, he built a reputation for being firm yet fair, which became the guiding principle of his career and earned him the respect of both the inmate population and the correctional staff. As he rose steadily in rank, his goal throughout his career, and especially as warden, was to never make a promise he could not keep.
He became an integral part of the prison chase team, helping to recapture dozens of inmates during the 1950s and 1960s when no escape laws existed and runaways were common. Hilton Butler’s experience and ability were deemed invaluable at Angola – the go to man for advice on any prison issues. By 1975, Butler had been promoted to assistant warden for custody, and is given credit for single-handedly diffusing a riot during the summer of that year after a mass food poisoning incident at the Main Prison nearly caused tensions to boil over. Meeting alone and unarmed with hostile inmate leaders and, while answering questions giving serious consideration to their grievances, he made it clear that there would be order and he would not tolerate demands.
In 1987 Hilton Butler was honored with the Charles E. Dunbar, Jr. Career Service Award by the Louisiana Civil Service League, followed in 1988, after 36 years in corrections, by being named Warden of the Year by the North American Association of Wardens and Superintendents. He was inducted into the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame in 2012.
He loved the Lord and was an encouragement to many.
Hilton was an avid hunter and fisherman, spending many hours in the outdoors with family and friends.
His family meant the world to him.
Visitation will be Wednesday, December 19, 2018 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Charlet Funeral Home, Inc. in Zachary. A second visitation will be Thursday, December 20, 2018 from 12:00 pm until service at 2:00 pm, at Tunica United Methodist Church in Tunica. Burial will follow at Feliciana Cemetery in St. Francisville.