Cover photo for Mary G. Butler's Obituary
Mary G. Butler Profile Photo
1940 Mary 2020

Mary G. Butler

September 23, 1940 — November 20, 2020

Mary G. Butler, 80, of Battle Creek, died unexpectedly Friday, November 20, 2020. She was born September 23, 1940 in Wilmington, Delaware to James and Marjorie (Parsons) Gilruth.

Mary received her undergraduate degree with Honors from Swarthmore College and her M.A. from the Winterthur Museum/University of Delaware Early American Studies Program. Before coming to Battle Creek she served as Executive Director of the Baltimore, Maryland, Historic District Commission as well as Assistant Director of the Territorial Restoration in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Mary was the Director of the Research Center of Heritage Battle Creek and the Sojourner Truth Institute of Battle Creek, Michigan. She was the author of a recently published biography of Sojourner Truth for middle school students, which was named a Carter G. Woodson Honor Book by the National Council for the Social Studies in 2004. Mary was the founder and editor of Heritage Publications, which has produced a series of eleven volumes of local history as well as monographs and special issues. The publication program has received several awards, including two Awards of Merit from the Historical Society of Michigan and the Award of Commendation from the American Association of State and Local History.

Mary was recognized as a Humanities Scholar by the Michigan Humanities Council and an accredited Architectural Historian by the Michigan Department of Arts and Libraries, Bureau of History.

Mary is survived by her husband, James Butler; her daughter, Katherine Butler; a granddaughter, Alex Koller and a great-grandson, Oliver Koller. She was preceded in death by her parents.

The family has requested that the funeral services to celebrate Mary's life will be by invitation only due to current government regulations. A public gathering will be scheduled sometime in the Summer of 2021. Interment will be at Oak Hill Cemetery. Personal messages for the family may be placed at


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