Larry Scott Butler

Butler—Larry Scott Butler, 75, on December 15, 2018, in Fort Myers, Fla. Larry was born July 29, 1943, in Clearfield, Pa., to William and Marion Butler. While in high school he was a circuit lay preacher for small family Methodist churches in the Pennsylvania mountains. In 1965, Larry graduated from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., with a major in history. He was a founder of a liberal discussion group on campus called Concern, and a founder of a Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) chapter in the town of Carlisle. During his senior year, Larry worked for the Pennsylvania Council of Churches as a pastor serving migrant labor camps.

Larry became a convinced Friend and was accepted into membership by Warrington Meeting in Wellsville, Pa. After graduation, he worked for the Summer Community Organization and Political Education (SCOPE) project of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of which Martin Luther King Jr. was president. Bayard Rustin, noted Quaker, trained those SCOPE volunteers. Larry led a successful voter registration drive and political education campaign in Eufaula, Ala., where he was briefly jailed. He moved to Philadelphia, Pa., transferred his membership to Central Philadelphia Meeting, and taught history and religion at Friends Select School from 1970 to 1980. He received his master’s from Temple University with attention to Quaker American history.

Larry was the first clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Committee on Homosexuality, which had a major impact on educating Friends on gay and lesbian issues. The organization later evolved into Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns (FLGBTQC). With a small group of other Quakers he was a founding member of Unami Meeting in Pennsburg, Pa.

In 1980, Larry moved to Miami, Fla., where he lived on a boat for a number of years. He became a member of Miami Meeting. In 1981, he began working with the developmentally disabled and helped start a horticultural vocational training program in Miami Beach called the Log Cabin Nursery. In 1986, he moved to Fort Myers, Fla., and cofounded Fort Myers Meeting. He continued his work with the developmentally disabled, concentrating on men with low IQ and issues of violence.

In recent years, Larry was beset by various health concerns, including the amputation of one leg. These health challenges failed to stop his commitment to living life to its fullest. Until his death, Larry was the primary caregiver for a beloved developmentally disabled housemate. Larry remained a vibrant part of the life of Fort Myers Meeting, serving on a clearness committee only weeks prior to his passing, and often shared vocal ministry at meetings for worship.

In his last years, Larry worked to organize and document the books and papers he had accumulated during a life active in Quaker issues. These were accepted by the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa., in a special collection named for him, where they are permanently available to scholars of Quaker history.

Larry was predeceased by two brothers. He is survived by his partner of many years, Wandson D. DeOliveira; Wandson’s children, Priscilla and Samuel, whom Larry helped to raise; and two sisters, Susie Barley and Diane Butler.

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