Police Lt. James H. Butler Jr. dies

October 13, 1991

A Mass of Christian burial for James Hiram Butler Jr., who was among the first three black members of the Baltimore Police Department and the first to become a ranking officer, will be offered at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow at Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church, Edgewood Road and Liberty Heights Avenue.

Mr. Butler, who retired as a lieutenant in 1966, died of pulmonary disease Wednesday at Sinai Hospital. He was 82 and lived on Mohawk Avenue.

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Butler was a graduate of Douglass High School and attended Temple University before receiving his undergraduate degree in 1931 from what is now Morgan State University.

At Morgan, he was an All Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tackle on the football team. After his graduation, he played semiprofessional football with the Baltimore Pros and was later named to the Morgan Hall of Fame.

Mr. Butler was a self-employed painting contractor before joining the Police Department July 28, 1938 -- one of the first three black people to be hired for the city force.

During a career that lasted nearly three decades, Mr. Butler became the first black person to reach the ranks of detective (in 1946), sergeant (1947) and lieutenant (1962). He received some two dozen official commendations including two bronze stars for bravery and more than 40 letters of commendation from the department and the public.

After his retirement from the department, Mr. Butler was a partner in a Cherry Hill liquor store for about 10 years.

Mr. Butler, who enjoyed hunting and fishing, had served as a board member of the Druid Hill Avenue YMCA and was a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the black police officers' Vanguard Justice Society, the NAACP and the Urban League. He was also an usher at Our Lady of Lourdes Church and a member of three social clubs, the Peepers and Pipers, the Chesterfield Club and the Couples Club.

Surviving are his wife of 54 years, the former Beatrice Truman; two nephews and several grandnieces, grandnephews, great-grandnieces and great-grandnephews.

The family suggested memorial donations to the Morgan State University Athletics Fund in care of the Varsity M Club at the university.

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