On June 4, 2020, Little Rock lost one of its most distinguished preservationists. Richard Colburn Butler III was a founding member of the QQA and a lifelong supporter through donations, sponsorships, volunteering, and working to preserve greater Little Rock’s historic places.
During his career as a preservationist, he has not only served the QQA as a founding member and member of the QQA board of directors, but also earned an “Award of Merit” in 2001 for his outstanding preservation project restoring the First Hotze House at 1620 South Main Street in Little Rock. Starting with his first preservation project in 1976, Richard eventually restored all the houses on the south side of East 10th street in Little Rock. In 2003, Richard won the QQA’s Jimmy Strawn award for “efforts on the behalf of the preservation of Little Rock’s heritage [that] are an inspiration to the entire community.” Richard won a 2019 National Historic Preservation Medal from the Daughters of the American Revolution, one of only 30 awarded each year.
Richard worked on several boards related to historic preservation and Arkansas history, including the Pioneer Washington Restoration Foundation, Arkansas Historic Preservation Review Board, Arkansas Genealogical Society, Pulaski County Historical Society, the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas (now Preserve Arkansas) board, Friends of Arkansas State Archives, Oakland-Fraternal Cemetery Board, and the Arkansas Pioneers Association among others.
Richard Colburn Butler was born September 21, 1937 at Trinity Hospital in Little Rock located at 20th and Main streets. The building is now Trinity Court Apartments and owned by Arc Arkansas. His parents were Gertrude Marjorie Remmel and Richard C. Butler.
Richard attended schools in Little Rock and Alexandria, Virginia. He graduated from Little Rock Central High in 1955. He earned an AB in History from Washington & Lee University in 1959 and JD from the University of Arkansas Law School in 1962. He did further graduate work in banking at Southern Methodist University. While in law school, he served six years in the 431st Civil Affairs Company of the U.S. Army Reserve.
From 1963 to 1968, Richard practiced general law at House Holmes & Jewell. Starting in 1968, he worked as a trust officer at Commercial National Bank of Little Rock for 13 years.
In the early 1980s, Richard took over as administrator for CONTACT, a telephone ministry that provided “psychotherapeutic counseling.” He stayed until the program ended in 1984.
After his time at CONTACT, he went to work as a personal assistant to philanthropist Lucy Lockett Cabe for 18 years.
Richard lived partly in Washington, AR where he had restored property (particularly the Noel Owen Log House) and in Little Rock. He was beloved in Little Rock preservation and history circles, and remembered for his constant support for preservation causes. He was also known for his yearly 12th Night party held in historic venues. Richard hosted this party for many years, eventually locating it at Curran Hall (managed by the QQA) every other year.
We will miss you Richard--our founder, our benefactor, and our friend.
---The Board of Directors and Staff of the QQA.