I’m often reminded of my favourite quote from former North Grenville councillor Terry Butler. It goes something like this: “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when no one is looking to take the credit for it”. I know that he’s not the original author, but, as I’ve come to know Terry over the past few years, the quote is very symbolic of how he has conducted himself as a person, business owner and former member of council. Humble to a fault, when asked about any of the projects that he was involved in as a councillor, he always talks about the contributions of others and especially those he felt didn’t get enough appreciation for their efforts.
Born in London, Ontario on October 31, 1942, the only son amongst three daughters, Terry had a love of baseball from an early age. One of his fondest memories from childhood was playing second base for Wilton Grove and winning the Ontario Bantam Baseball Championship in 1958. To this day, some members of the team still stay in touch with each other and he muses: “The jacket from that team fits a little snug these days”, but it appears that the happy memories fit perfectly.
Often called Butler, rather than Terry, the proud father of Tara and Krista started his working career with five-and-dime retailer S.S. Kresge, which eventually became Kmart. Working his way up the ladder to store manager, Terry moved around to several different stores in Ontario and eventually was recruited by Giant Tiger in 1986. After learning the ropes from Gordon Reid, he was eventually offered a brand new franchise in Kemptville in 1987. He joined the Lions Club here that same year and quickly became a fixture in the local business community.
Selling his franchise in 1998, he briefly left Kemptville for two years to help with Butler’s Diner, a restaurant owned by two of his sisters, located between Windsor and London. He returned to the North Grenville area in 2001 and opened what would become known as Butler’s Victorian Pantry in downtown Kemptville, serving a wide variety of teas, sweet treats and homestyle lunches. He and his sweetheart of 24 years Josie (the guru of the kitchen) operated the popular local business until this past year, when the desire to be able to watch afternoon baseball games and grow an herb garden was too strong to resist.
Terry was first elected to North Grenville Municipal Council in 2003 and spent the next eleven years doing his best to represent the best interests of residents and local businesses, and “to make a difference”. He felt very fortunate that his business allowed people to walk in and talk to him about their concerns with municipal council. Until recently, he was a very active member of the Old Town Kemptville BIA and worked tirelessly to promote downtown businesses especially in the face of the opening of Walmart in 2007. Some of his proudest moments as a member of Council were the creation of the five legacy projects to mark Kemptville’s 150th anniversary in 2007. These projects were: the North Grenville Trail System, the replica of the first Ryan’s Well on the former Kemptville College campus, the Giving Garden at the Ferguson Forest Centre, Anniversary Park, and the yet to be completed Waterfront Trail connecting County Road 43 to downtown Kemptville.
Looking back, Terry says that, rather than worrying about having a physical legacy of his time in political office (new buildings etc.), he hoped that what people would remember was a simple man who tried his very best to help people and make the community a better place to live for everyone. Though he acknowledged that he had a few detractors over the years, he said that his door was always open to everyone, regardless of whether they agreed with him or not. With closed meetings, codes of conduct, and “I can’t discuss that” heard frequently these days, it’s refreshing to hear about someone who made themselves accessible to people every day. I think we all hope that this legacy lives on for many years and becomes the standard for local politicians rather than the exception.