James Butler, a resident of Via Christi Village in Manhattan, is one of only 50 distinguished individuals from across the United States chosen for the Celebrate Age exhibit in Washington, D.C.
The exhibit is planned as a special feature during the annual meeting of LeadingAge (formerly the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging), marking its 50th anniversary. A reception the evening of Oct. 18 will honor the 50 outstanding seniors.
Earlier this summer, LeadingAge asked for the names of "amazing seniors" living in nonprofit retirement homes. Mr. Butler was one of 50 chosen out of more than 400 nominations which were submitted.
James Butler has traveled many roads during his life, both those he helped build and those which opened doors for him.
Born in Kansas City, Kan., he started college classes at KU but was unable to continue because of the Depression. He joined the Army in 1942. He was stationed on the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska, working with Army engineers building the Alcan Highway. He returned to the United States in 1943 for more training, then went to help build the Burma Road which went as far as Kunming, China, a transfer point for military trucks and equipment. He was discharged from the Army in 1945.
James took advantage of the GI Bill and attended K-State.
In 1948 he decided to re-enlist in the Army because he felt it was a better opportunity. He was a warrant officer. James served in WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He was also stationed in New Jersey, Kentucky, Ft. Riley and overseas in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and India. In 1965, James was the representative for the United States in the Congo. He retired from the Army in 1976 after serving for 32 years.
James returned to KSU and graduated with a degree in social theology. He went to work for the Kansas Commission on Human Rights in the Manhattan and Topeka area. As a member of the Manhattan Human Rights and Services Board and Chairman of the Kansas Commission on Civil Rights, he advocated for desegregation in places like the Wareham Opera House. He was also NAACP president for the Manhattan Chapter.
After retiring from the Human Rights and Services board, he worked as a custodian in a church in addition to his lay speaking. James enjoyed writing religious sermons and was a lay preacher. He became a member of the Bethel AME in 1948 and enjoyed singing in the choir as a tenor. He also married in 1948. He has one son, Marvin.
James stated he always had something to do and kept moving. He says by being busy, he has lived a long life. James continues to attend many activities with his church and goes out with his friends often. He enjoys lots of visitors from the community who drop by to see him at Via Christi Village on a regular basis.
The exhibit will be in Washington Oct. 16 through 19. Via Christi Village in Manhattan and the Via Christi Foundation are currently engaged in efforts to raise the funds needed to send James, his son, and a nurse to the conference.