Roger A. Butters ’72 died from a stroke on September 22, 2011, in Erie, Pennsylvania.
He was born on March 8, 1950, in Corry, Pa., and prepared for college at Corry Area High School. At Bowdoin, he was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity, Army ROTC, Young Republicans, and was vice chairman of the southern region of the Maine Young Republicans. After graduating cum laude, he was commissioned a second lieutenant and served two years as a platoon leader in air defense missile units in Korea and Fort Bliss, Texas. After his discharge, he attended the Dickinson School of Law, graduating in 1977. The following year, he re-entered the Army as a captain in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. What he intended to be a three-year commitment turned into a 24-year career that took him on two tours in Germany and put him in charge of trying more than 300 court-martial cases, including the defense of a capital murder case. He later served as the Chief, Criminal Law for U.S. Forces Korea. The Army funded his enrollment at the National Law Center, George Washington University, where he earned a master of laws degree in environmental law. He went on to serve as the environmental law specialist for the U.S. Army Toxic and Hazardous Materials Agency, the Department of Defense’s Ballistic Missile Defense Organization and for the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command. He was the principal legal strategist in the development of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that ultimately led to the deployment of the National Missile Defense system in Alaska. He also served as an associate professor of law at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He retired from the Army on Sept. 30, 2001, having attained the rank of lieutenant colonel, but he volunteered to return to Headquarters, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, when his replacement was hastily reassigned after the attacks of September 11, 2001. He served as a civilian attorney until August 2002. He was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Meritorious Service Medal with four Oak Leaf clusters, and the Army Commendation Medal. He was an active member and elder in the First Presbyterian Church. He served for many years as a member of Corry’s Earned Income Tax and Planning Committees and as a director and president of the Pine Grove Cemetery Association. He was predeceased by a sister, K. Louise Butters, and by two brothers, J. Guy Butters III and Arthur C. Butters.
Good bye Major Butters,
I know you were promoted to LTC but I knew you and referred to you as Major Butters so frequently that “Major” almost became a first name.
You were an officer with merit and honor. You didn’t mind getting your hands dirty and trying difficult cases with your captains. You seemed always available after hours to listen as your officers sounded out the theories of their cases. As a supervisor, a litigator and a friend, you will be missed
My brother and roommate at Sigma Nu. We didn’t agree about politics sometimes, but he was a good, kind and generous friend. Sadly, I never saw him again after graduation.