Last week, staff, at least for a few minutes, managed to crack that façade a bit.



As most any observer can attest, Don Butler tends to be a stoic all-business administrator during meetings of the Board of County Commissioners.

Last week, staff, at least for a few minutes, managed to crack that façade a bit.

In a surprise, only in the sense that Butler did not know exactly what was going to transpire, the board and staff honored Florida’s longest-serving current administrator during last Tuesday’s regular meeting.

Presenting a mock-up of a tentative plaque for commissioners, former commissioners Billy Traylor and Warren Yeager, both current county employees, urged commissioners to support their proposal.

And commissioners unanimously approved naming their meeting room the Donald H. Butler County Commission Chamber.

“Don Butler is an exceptional man,” Traylor said. “More than that, he is loyal. He has been loyal for 28 years to this county.

“He is a fine person and a fine man.”

Butler is not only the current county administrator in Florida with the longest tenure, he is the only person to possess the title of chief administrator.

He is also, several noted last week, one of the hardest working men in the county.

Commissioner Ward McDaniel said that while county staff works four 10-hour days, a typical Friday morning will find Butler in his office, even after his 14-16 hour days during the week.

“He is so busy taking care of everybody else he has to come in just to get some of his own work done,” McDaniel said.

Former and current commissioners noted, no matter what the hour, no matter the day, no matter what the geography of the people on either side of the line, a phone call to Butler was answered.

They thanked his wife, Brenda, who, one said, may have thought herself a widow at times, for the many sacrifices she made over the years.

“He is as dedicated a man as I’ve ever seen,” said Commissioner Phil McCroan.

One overwhelming theme addressed Butler’s role in the county hierarchy.

Butler, the unanimous characterization carried, was a straight shooter who laid out the pros and cons and was not one to try to sway a commissioner’s vote.

“He always said you are the one the people voted for,” Traylor said.

Commissioners and Butler butted heads, several noted with a chuckle, but everybody went on about their business, Butler administrating, commissioners voting.

“The one thing he has taught me is patience, and I’m still learning,” said deputy administrator Michael Hammond, who will take over from Butler next spring.

Butler, joined by his wife and daughter, Kim, noted that he was far better at giving praise than receiving.

However, the pride, the smile, said just about all that needed to be said.

“You have to love this job to do it and I love it,” he said.

After posing for photos, Butler did remind commissioners he wasn’t going anywhere right away. Eight months remained until his actual retirement date.

Slowing down, that could wait.

“And I will certainly be calling on all of you,” Butler said.