Former Weyburn mayor pays tribute to mentor and friend

Former mayor and community volunteer Isabelle Butters passed away at the age of 92 years on June 30, and will be remembered by a fellow former mayor as a mentor and a friend. A celebration of her life was held on Saturday, July 13, at Grace United Church.

When Debra Button was on the library board as a rookie alderman, Isabelle was a big help who led by example, and over the next few years, they became very good friends, particularly when Button followed Butters as mayor.

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“I was fortunate to serve with her on the library board. I was a sponge, and I like to learn everything I could from her. I was learning how to chair a meeting,” she said, noting she learned a lot from her at that time.

Butters was an alderman for 12 years before she became Weyburn’s first woman mayor, a position she held from 1977 to 1982. She received numerous honours in her life, including being named to the Order of Canada in 1980, and received the Golden Spike Award from the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce in 2005.

Button noted that as a teenager, her first job was at the Weyburn Co-op where Isabelle was the general manager, and she recalled at one point there were some tense contract negotiations.

She recalled hearing that the GM stated at that time that part-time teenaged employees shouldn’t be making the same as full-time employees, and asked Isabelle later if she really said that, and Isabelle only smiled but never answered her.

Isabelle worked for the Weyburn Co-operative Association for 39 years, and was the general manager for almost a decade.

When Button later became the second woman mayor for Weyburn, she turned to the first woman mayor for advice on many occasions.

“There were tough decisions you have to make, and you second-guess things. Isabelle was always my contact for those tough decisions,” said Button. “She was always so honest with her advice, and understood what I was going through. When I lost the election, Isabelle was one of the first people I called. … She was my mentor, my go-to and she was my friend.”

Weyburn has lost a great representative and volunteer in Isabelle, said Button, who noted she considered Isabelle as “the definition of a lady” as she did tough jobs, as a mayor and a general manager of the Co-op, with class and strength. Even after she stepped down from both of those positions, “she never stopped working for this community.”

“I will deeply miss her, but I’m so grateful for the legacy that she left here,” said Button. “I was very heart-broken when I got the news that she had finally gone before the golden gates. I’m sure it was a welcome home for her, with a life well-lived.”