Phi Kappa Sigma

Robert B. Butters ’51

Robert Bruce “Bob” Butters, age 94, of Dublin, Ohio, passed away after a short illness at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus. He was born on November 6, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois, to the late Howard and Marion Butters.

He is survived by his five children: Lynn (Tom) Richied, Bruce (Lunda) Butters, Charlie (Kathy) Butters, Steve Butters, and Julie (Christian) Stock; nine grandchildren: Ian, Ross and Lauren Butters, Greg, Dan and Shelley Butters, and Jamie, Andrew and Claire Stock. Also surviving are numerous nieces and nephews and extended family. He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 63 years, Selene. His younger sister Carol also went before him in death.

Bob was a superb trombone player, and music, especially New Orleans Dixieland-style jazz, was a lifelong passion. He said he “was smitten by Tommy Dorsey and Jack Teagarden early on” in his life. At the young age of 16, Bob won the prestigious Tommy Dorsey Trophy in the @Look Magazine 1946 national swing-band contest at Carnegie Hall in New York City. While attending MIT in Boston, Bob formed a jazz band of his own that played college functions and Boston’s Savoy Cafe. As a Savoy house band member, Bob backed numerous jazz legends, including Wild Bill Davison, Henry “Red” Allen, Max Kaminsky, and Omer Simeon. After moving to Ohio in 1951, Bob worked with Carl Halen’s Gin Bottle 7, Eddie Bayard’s Bourbon Street 5, Terry Waldo’s Gutbucket Syncopators, and Gene Mayl’s Dixieland Syncopators. Bob played trombone with the Buffalo Ridge Jazz Band in Cincinnati since 1966. He was a long-time member of the popular local Columbus based North Side Jazz Band. He joined the Central Ohio Hot Jazz Society, which he served as president for 19 years. Even after retiring from the presidency, he remained an active COHJS board member. When the society began monthly open Hot Jazz Jams, Bob hardly ever missed a jam, playing for three hours at a stretch into his 90s. At the jams, Bob was an excellent, encouraging, and inspirational mentor to younger musicians wanting to learn how to play this early jazz music. Bob was also highly regarded by the many musicians throughout Ohio that he worked with over the years. Ragtime Rick Grafing of Toledo said of him, “Bob’s the Elder Statesman of early jazz in Ohio. He has such enthusiasm and an easygoing and fun manner. Everyone knows and respects Bob Butters. He’s a legendary player.”

Bob will be missed by his children, grandchildren, friends, and fellow musicians. He left a legacy of excellence in everything he did.