J. Henry ‘Hank’ Butta

Civic leader who worked to get Bal­ti­more a new NFL team rose from mail room to head C&P Tele­phone Co.

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES - By Jac­ques Kelly jac­ques.kelly@balt­sun.com

J. Henry “Hank” Butta, who rose from the mail room to be­come pres­i­dent of the old Ch­e­sa­peake and Po­tomac Tele­phone Co. and was a close ad­viser to for­mer Gov. William Don­ald Schaefer, died of heart disease Tues­day at his David­sonville home. He was 90.

As­so­ciates called Mr. Butta a tire­less pro­moter of Bal­ti­more who worked to help win a Na­tional Foot­ball League fran­chise af­ter the Colts left for In­di­anapo­lis in 1984.

Born in Bal­ti­more and raised on Lin­wood Av­enue, he was the son of John Butta and Mar­garet Cherigo.

His fam­ily lacked the tu­ition to send Mr. Butta to Loy­ola High School, but a par­ish priest sug­gested that he try out for an ath­letic schol­ar­ship. The Rev. Fran­cis Chil­dress had no­ticed that Mr. Butta ex­celled in soc­cer and be­lieved he would be a nat­u­ral kicker.

His kick­ing skill “was ob­vi­ous for all to see,” wrote The Bal­ti­more Sun’s John Stead­man in1988. “It was then that coach Ed Har­gaden, on a late sum­mer day in 1943, de­cided that the walk-on fresh­man, hop­ing for a schol­ar­ship, had a chance to help Loy­ola High School be­come a cham­pi­onship con­tender.”

Mr. Butta went on to be rec­og­nized by high school sports­writers in the 1940s. He played in the old Bal­ti­more Sta­dium be­fore a crowd of 4,000 in a 1945 game against Pat­ter­son Park. He was his school’s honoree at the 1947 McCormick Un­sung He­roes Din­ner.

While a Loy­ola stu­dent, he was work­ing the stage crew at a stu­dent per­for­mance and, from be­hind a cur­tain, saw a young woman seated in the au­di­ence. He told his friends he was go­ing to marry her. He and Anna Rose Janowiak were wed in 1949.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Loy­ola at Blake­field, Mr. Butta was of­fered a schol­ar­ship to kick for Ge­orge­town Uni­ver­sity. He de­clined it and in­stead took a job work­ing for a road con­trac­tor to help sup­port his mother.

He then walked into 327 St. Paul St., C&P’s of­fice, look­ing for a job.

“They said they weren’t hir­ing any­body but World War II vets,” Mr. Butta re­called in a 1991Sun ar­ti­cle. “But they took myap­pli­ca­tion any­way. Then they called me the next day and said I could be a mail boy.” He made $18 a week. “Among the up­wardly mo­bile ex­ec­u­tive ranks of Bell At­lantic Corp., J. Henry “Hank” Butta re­mains an anom­aly: He has com­muted from the same house for18 years, he va­ca­tions in Ocean City, and his idea of fun is to go crab­bingintheWyeRiverus­ingchicken­necks for bait,” The Sun re­ported in1991. “And when this man of de­cid­edly sim­ple tastes re­tires Sept. 1 from Ch­e­sa­peake & Po­tomac Tele­phone Co., the lo­cal phone com­pany that is owned by Bell At­lantic, he will leave as one of the most in­flu­en­tial ex­ec­u­tives in Mary­land.”

He went from the mail room to work­ing in man­holes and was later a cable splicer, a line­man, a tele­phone in­staller, a cen­tral of­fice re­pair­man and a ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive be­fore mov­ing into man­age­ment in the1960s.

“He said he in­stalled a phone in ev­ery house in Lit­tle Italy,” said his daugh­ter, Su­san Caven­der of Largo, Fla.

Mr. Butta was named vice pres­i­dent of C&P of Mary­land in 1979, the same year he struck up­afriend­ship with Mr. Schaefer, then mayor of Bal­ti­more. Mr. Butta be­came pres­i­dent of C&P July 1, 1988, and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Jan. 1, 1990. He re­tired in 1991.

At the time of his re­tire­ment, Mr. Butta worked from a pent­house suite at 1 Pratt St.

“His ex­pan­sive of­fice, which has a panoramic view of the In­ner Har­bor, is filled with re­minders of his jour­ney up the ex­ec­u­tive ranks: There’s a cof­fee cup that bears a pic­ture of a hard-hat worker, a stack of con­grat­u­la­tory let­ters from line­men, in­stall­ers and re­pair­men, and a C&P plaque that reads: ‘Qual­ity Be­gins Here,’ ” said The Sun ar­ti­cle.

The ar­ti­cle also said civic and busi­ness lead­ers praised Mr. Butta as a suc­cess story and as a pub­lic cit­i­zen who used his post atop the state’s tele­phone com­pany to help raise money to help im­pov­er­ished per­sons in­su­late their homes, and who fought to re­gain a Na­tional Foot­ball League fran­chise for Bal­ti­more.

“For sev­eral years we had a hos­pi­tal­ity suite at the an­nual Na­tional Foot­ball League own­ers meet­ing,” said at­tor­ney Her­bert J. Bel­grad. “Herb was a good man and a self-made man and his per­sonal com­mit­ment and en­thu­si­asm made him an in­stru­men­tal part of our team and our ef­forts to get a fran­chise.” Mr. Bel­grad re­called Mr. Butta’s abil­ity to de­velop friend­ships and good per­sonal re­la­tion­ships with NFL team own­ers.

“He got to know them, their wives and their chil­dren,” Mr. Bel­grad said. “Our suite was a pop­u­lar gath­er­ing spot. We had crab meat and crab balls ready.”

Then-Mayor Schaefer named him to the chair­man­ship of the Cor­po­rate Sta­dium Task Force, which rec­om­mended build­ing a new sta­dium com­plex at Cam­den Yards. Mr. Butta later di­rected Mr. Schaefer’s tran­si­tion team af­ter he was elected gov­er­nor in 1986.

Mr. Butta was a leader of an ef­fort called the Bal­ti­more Blue Chip-In. The fundraiser as­sisted causes im­per­iled by govern­ment bud­get cuts. He also served as chair of the board of gover­nors of the Na­tional Aquar­ium, and was a past di­rec­tor of the Bal­ti­more Sym­phony Orches­tra and the Bal­ti­more Area Con­ven­tion and Vis­i­tors As­so­ci­a­tion. He also served on the boards of the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land Med­i­cal Sys­tem and the Bal­ti­more chap­ter of the Amer­i­can Red Cross.

He held a knight­hood in the Ro­man Catholic Eques­trian Or­der of the Holy Sepul­chre of Jerusalem. He and his wife en­joyed travel.

A Mass of Chris­tian burial will be of­fered at 11 a.m. Mon­day at St. El­iz­a­beth Ann Se­ton Ro­man Catholic Church, 1800 Se­ton Drive in Crofton.

In ad­di­tion to his daugh­ter, sur­vivors in­clude a son, David Butta of Edge­wa­ter; two other daugh­ters, Anne Butta of David­sonville and Mary­beth Leb­herz of Fred­er­ick; four grand­chil­dren; and four great-grand­chil­dren. His wife of 44 years died in 1993. Mr. Butta was a close ad­viser to for­mer Mayor and Gov. William Don­ald Schaefer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.