William Butler IV, W. Chester lawyer

William Butler IV, 72, of West Chester, a lawyer and a member of a storied Princeton University rugby team, died of a stroke Thursday, May 20, at a hospice in Chester Springs.

Born in West Chester, Mr. Butler graduated from the Haverford School in 1955, earned a bachelor's degree in literature and religion at Princeton in 1959, and graduated from the Law School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1962.

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WilliamButler IV

He was a member of the Cottage Club at Princeton and in 1957 played on the school's championship rugby squad.

A 2004 Yale Daily News article said that "in 1956, when official, round-robin Ivy League play began," the Yale squad beat Princeton and "went on to win the first Ivy League title of the modern era."

But, it added, "the Tigers won their first Ivy League championship in 1957 with a 6-1 league record."

At 6-foot-6, Mr. Butler "played one of those big center positions" in a scrum, a position known as a prop, his son Scott said.

A shoulder dislocated on the field of play, his son said, was "a rite of passage."

After the 1957 championship season, he said, the Princeton team "went on a winner's tour in 1958, culminating in a rugby tournament on Bermuda."

Mr. Butler began his career with the West Chester law firm run by a cousin, Thomas Butler.

A Chester County assistant district attorney later in the 1960s, he rejoined the family firm in the 1970s, worked for West Chester and Media law firms in the 1980s and 1990s, then set up his own West Chester practice.

A bass, Mr. Butler sang with the chorus of Opera Delaware from the mid-'80s to the mid-'90s, his son said, and "performed in almost every opera" the company staged.

He sang with the Men and Boys' Choir at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in West Chester in the 1970s and 1980s, and in the 1990s with the Men and Boys' Choir at Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge.

Since 2002, Mr. Butler had volunteered with Compeer Chester County, an affiliate of an international mental-health nonprofit agency, with which he helped "recovering mental-health patients . . . transition back into society," his son said.

Since 2005, Mr. Butler had been a mediator with Peacemaker Ministries, a group of laymen and clergy involved in conflict resolution.

Besides his son Scott, Mr. Butler is survived by Marilyn, his wife of 47 years; another son, Glen; a sister; and five grandchildren.

A remembrance service is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, June 12, at the DellaVecchia, Reilly, Smith, & Boyd Funeral Home, 410 N. Church St., West Chester, with a reception to follow at the West Chester Golf & Country Club, High and Ashbridge Streets.


Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.