The community of Flatrock is mourning the loss of its mayor, who died Monday morning following a battle with cancer.
Kevin Butt, 65, was a member of council since 2005. First serving as deputy mayor, he moved into the mayor’s chair in 2008 when his predecessor, Kevin Parsons, made a successful bid to enter provincial politics, winning a byelection in the district of Cape St. Francis.
“Myself and Mayor Butt were very, very good friends,” said Parsons, who knew him for close to 40 years. They joined town council the same year. “I had to persuade him,” recalls Parsons. “I told him I was running for mayor, and now I want you to run along with me.”
Parsons said the late mayor was a private person. Butt had lost a noticeable amount of weight in the last three months, and Parsons said it was evident he was not well. It was over the Christmas holidays that Butt divulged to friends he had cancer.
Butt visited Parsons’ office last Wednesday and told the MHA he was scheduled to undergo a consultation the next day to look at treatment options.
“It was really sudden,” said Parsons. “It was a shock. Really a huge shock. Everyone knew he was sick and we were all just hoping for the best, and that maybe treatment, chemo or radiation, might help him out.”
The news of Butt’s death also proved to be a shock for staff and council members with the Town of Flatrock. In a statement on its website, the town said the shock of his death was still hitting them.
Originally from St. John’s, Butt held a managerial position at the Health Sciences Centre for more than 40 years, looking after electricians and building maintenance workers. He retired two years ago, according to Parsons.
Outside of his involvement with council, Butt was a longtime volunteer with minor hockey and helped form the Northeast Junior Eagles team. He helped run the Flatrock recreation commission for many years and served on the board responsible for operating the Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay up until his death.
Butt was also known in senior hockey circles for his involvement with the Flatrock Flyers, and he served on the executive of the Avalon East Senior Hockey League (AESHL) up until his death.
“He will be greatly missed by all who knew him,” said Joe Maynard, former president and longtime executive member with the AESHL.
He said Butt spent 15 years on the league’s executive, serving as secretary for most of those years. Butt was good at dealing with people no matter the situation, according to Parsons.
“The biggest thing about Kevin Butt is if you ever wanted to meet a man who was fair and treated everybody the same, he’s that man,” said Parsons. “The memories I have with him is playing softball, and we’d all be arguing. Kevin had a way about him that he wouldn’t get in an argument with you, but he’d always get his point across. He was a very easygoing fella.”
A wake for Butt is scheduled to take place Tuesday evening and Wednesday at Caul’s Funeral Home in Torbay. His funeral service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Michael's Church in Flatrock.
— With files from John Browne