Ralph H. Butler Jr., formerly of Glen Cove, died peacefully in his apartment home in an assisted living community in Newport News, VA, on Feb. 15, 2016, with his elder daughter at his side. He was 92 years old. Ralph was born July 31,1923, in Bayside, Queens, to Edna Mae Payne Butler and Ralph H. Butler, Sr. (both formerly of Glen Cove. Ancestors include Dolley Payne Todd Madison on his mother’s side, and Mary Ball Washington on his father’s side.)
After graduating from Bayside High School, Ralph worked at Hazeltine in NYC until he received a letter of “Greetings” from President Roosevelt in early 1943. He joined the Army-Air Corps because he wanted to be a pilot, but during his induction it was discovered that he was color-blind, so he was trained in photogrammetry. Due to being on furlough, he narrowly missed being on the Liberty Ship, US Paul Hamilton, with the other 300+ men in his 32nd Photo Reconnaissance Squadron when it was torpedoed in the Mediterranean on April 20, 1944. It went down in less than a minute, with no survivors. Later, he went to Bari, Italy, and he analyzed intelligence photos of sites in Europe, including Dachau.
After WW2 Ralph worked in HVAC sales, service, and systems design, and had a PE (Professional Engineer) license. He and Mohena Belle Harris were married on August 28, 1948, the hottest day of that year in NY. Together they had homes in Bayside, NY, then in Glen Cove, Long Island, and later in Wappingers Falls, NY, and they enjoyed square dancing and many other creative pursuits together.
Since 2009, Ralph lived in assisted living in Newport News, Virginia, near his eldest daughter and his granddaughter (and great granddaughter). He was a lifelong model railroad hobbyist and avid photographer, and an active member of the Sea Cliff Methodist Church, NY, the Fishkill United Methodist Church, NY, and the First United Methodist Church of Newport News, VA. In 2005, his wife changed her residency to heaven, preceded by Ralph’s only sibling, his younger brother, Newsday reporter Bill Butler, in 2004. Ralph is survived by his daughters Meryl Ann Butler of Norfolk, VA; Joyce Ellen Butler (and Rick Wilcox) of Great Barrington, MA; granddaughter Dr. Angelica Perry of Melfa, VA; a grandson, Michael Leary, of Great Barrington, MA, and the sweet little light of his golden years, his 3-year-old great-granddaughter, Myla Grace, of Melfa, VA.
Ralph had been in hospice since April 2015, but continued to enjoy attending events and dining out until a sudden decline in late November.
He said he had always intended to outlive his male relatives, and he succeeded by a large margin.
He will be buried next to Mohena in the family plot in Carmel, NY, just a few feet from the route of the famous ride of Sybil Ludington. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 5, at The United Methodist Church of Sea Cliff, 63 Downing Ave, Sea Cliff, NY 11579, with refreshments to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Sea Cliff Methodist Church (NY), the Fishkill United Methodist Church (NY), or the First United Methodist Church of Newport News (VA).