Rose E. Butler, 72, neighborhood activist who taught physical education in city

June 12, 1999|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Rose Elizabeth Butler, a West Baltimore neighborhood activist and retired city school physical education teacher, died of cancer Monday at her Walbrook home. She was 72.

In 1992, Mrs. Butler was co-chairwoman of BUILD -- Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development -- when the group fought for and obtained a living wage ordinance from the City Council.

"I can remember walking in Mondawmin Mall with her [and] it was hard to get through because so many former students came up to her," said Arnie Graf, regional director for the Industrial Areas Foundation. "It was the same in her neighborhood -- people walking up and down the street and came calling on her porch she was a great champion of all the people."

Mrs. Butler was an advocate of community policing and fought for new and renovated housing in the Sandtown-Winchester area.

"She was always able to get her point across," said Irene Mallory, a Walbrook resident who worked with BUILD.

Born in Lexington Park, the former Rose Elizabeth Smith attended schools in St. Mary's County and graduated high school from the Cardinal Gibbons Institute in Ridge. She also held a bachelor's degree from the Hampton Institute, a master's in education from the University of Michigan and did advanced study at Coppin State College.

She began her teaching career in Salisbury and moved to Baltimore in the 1950s, teaching physical education at Edmondson Senior High School, Carver Vocational-Technical School and Forest Park Senior High School. She retired in 1985 after 21 years.

In 1956 she married Emanuel Butler, also a physical education teacher, who survives her.

A lifelong sports fan, Mrs. Butler had season tickets to Baltimore Colts home games at Memorial Stadium. When the team abandoned Baltimore for Indianapolis, the Butlers changed their allegiance to the Philadelphia Eagles, traveling to Pennsylvania for home games.

Mrs. Butler enjoyed swimming and taking part in an aquatic group at the YWCA.

She was a member of the Rosemont Improvement Association, the American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, the Maryland State Teachers Association, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the Hampton University Alumni Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Dunbar Dinner Group.

Mrs. Butler was a longtime member of St. Edward's Catholic Church, where she was president of the parish council. A memorial Mass will be offered at St. Edward's at 11 a.m. Monday at Poplar Grove Street and Lafayette Avenue.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by a son, Emanuel Butler Jr. of Fort Rucker, Ala. and a daughter, Barbara Ann Butler of Baltimore; and two grandsons.

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