August 8, 1938 – January 22, 2021
He was the eldest son of, and preceded in death by his loving parents, Neal Butler Sr. and Thelma (Bradford) Butler and sisters Gloria (Butler) Turner and Thelma B. (Butler) Reed, and cousin Liddell Scott. As a child, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Neal attended St. Francis Xavier Elementary and later as a teenager, would attend McKinley High, the historic and first ‘Negro’ high school, also in Baton Rouge. McKinley was the place where as a young man he developed into an all-around star student-athlete that lettered in baseball, basketball and football. Neal helped lead the McKinley Panther basketball team to win the State championship and to finish as runner-up in the National Basketball Tournament for Black High Schools’ championship game in 1957. At McKinley he was an all around leader and student-athlete. Neal was admired and respected by many of his classmates and contemporaries alike throughout Baton Rouge.
After graduating McKinley High, Neal would attend Dillard University in New Orleans, LA for a short time. In February 1959 he would marry fellow high school classmate, and first wife, Joyce Knox and began a family, having one son Aaron, followed by their second son Griouard. As a young husband and father he played a role in advancing civil rights by becoming one of the first African American public bus drivers in Baton Rouge, LA and had a lasting impact on the lives of his family and the community. Neal’s first marriage ended after nine years, but the fullness of his life was just beginning.
After migrating west and settling in Oakland, California, Neal would marry his second wife Lucille M. (McKeaver) Butler on April 15,1972 and begin a family together. Their family would include seven children, three sons and three daughters, Jabari (S), Damani (S), Asha (D), Ayana (D), Nia (D), and Kamau (S). His professional life began as a San Francisco Municipal bus driver. He became an enterprising businessman, with interest and success as a salesman with an African American organization that we all recognize today, Pro-Line Corp. But, Neal would also become an entrepreneur, in his own regard and of the many businesses he was involved in, one of his most notable was as a small business owner and proprietor of the jewelry store, Butler’s Fine Lines. His leadership, positive spirit and influence could be seen and felt by his family and his spiritual community. He and his wife, Lucille, would become active members of their church home, Allen Temple Baptist Church (Rev. Dr. Alfred Smith, Sr.) and led Boy Scout Troop 409, out of which came Oakland’s first black eagle scout, who would later graduate from Morehouse College. As is often the case for those who have the capacity to lead rich and full lives, Neal also endured heartbreaking loss. He lost Lucille to illness in May 1996. But his steadfast leadership and influence would live on in ALL of his children.
As a son of the south, he would find his way back to Baton Rouge and for a short period was married to Joyce A. (Monroe) Butler who would also pass due to illness.
In time, Neal would reunite with his first wife Joyce whom he wed again in picturesque Montrose, Colorado in August of 2004. They would go on to live a quiet life together as a retired couple, enjoying occasional travel, and the joys of a large blended family. That large blended family includes six sons, including step son Terrul Henderson, and three daughters, fifteen grandchildren and seven great grandchildren spread throughout the United States. Among his surviving children, and in no small part due to his influence, there are several Historic Black College & University graduates, a Morehouse alum and seminary trained minister, and a degreed military retiree.
He is also survived by his close nieces Myra, Karin and Tracey Turner (Gloria), many nephews, nieces and cousins.
Thursday, February 25, 2021 from 3:00 to 5:00 PM
McCoy and Harrison Funeral Home, 4918 Martin Luther King Blvd., Houston, Texas 77021