Butcher to Join Town Council

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    Travelin’ Man Finds a Home

    Bruce Butcher has lived in almost an uncountable number of communities throughout his life. “We moved like a dozen times when I was a kid, as Dad worked for the Singer Sewing Machine Company and was transferred a lot, mainly in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky,” said the newest member of the Fort Myers Beach Town Council, elected on March 7 as its leading vote-getter with slightly over 25% of the tally, and who will be sworn in on Monday evening, March 20. “How the mighty have fallen,” he says with reflection. “Singer was a huge company back in the day and now all that is gone.”

    He graduated from high school in Toledo, Ohio, before attending the University of Cincinnati. “My Mother said I could go to the University of Kentucky or anywhere in Ohio, and I choose Cincinnati for its Business program and obtained my degree in Finance. I worked for Dana Incorporated, the world leader in axles and driveshafts, for two summers as an intern at their former corporate office in Toledo on its audit staff, and I got used to wearing a suit-and-tie and flying in airplanes and dining in fine restaurants, as I had never done anything like that before. It was the era of the Vietnam War, but fortunately I had a high draft number so I relaxed with that. Jobs were scarce when I graduated and Dana offered me a position, so I said ‘what the heck’ – I liked them and they liked me and I liked cars so I decided that way of life would work for me, and I stayed with Dana for 40 years!”

    His first assignment kept him at the corporate office: “I was an auditor for over a year, though I am not sure I knew how to spell auditor, but I must have done a good job because they promoted me to Fort Wayne and then East Lansing.” There he met a Michigan State University student named Diane who was working on her Master’s Degree, and that turned into a marriage of 40 years that produced sons Bret, Jonathan, & Jake, with Bruce proudly beaming, “we just now celebrated our first grandchild, Milly!”

    “I Was In Heaven”

    Dana continued his work odyssey, transferring him back to Fort Wayne as an assistant controller at the largest plant in the corporation, then to Santa Ana, California, “where we lived on Newport Beach with 600 yards of ocean property, so life was really good! We were there 4 years before moving to Stockton, California, where we could get on a boat and go to San Francisco. It was such an interesting area and I found the whole thing fantastic, as we never had a pool before and there was the marina and the neighborhood was excellent and we were just two hours away from Lake Tahoe and San Francisco and Yosemite National Park – I thought I was in heaven.”

    From California, it was back cross-country to Indianapolis, Indiana, “where the Governor and Mayor invited to us to attend the Indy 500! They wined and dined us for three days and that was real fun, but damned cold in the winter, and expensive as we had electrical heat that cost us in excess of $400-a-month and we still froze. From there, I went to Charlotte, North Carolina, and the motor control division for another four years. All this explains why they have one son born in California, one in Indy and one in Charlotte.”

    The next transfer was international, “to Venezuela, where the kids got five years of education at the international school. We loved living there but hated working there as it is very different, with a lack of governmental institutions and unreliable utilities and an unreliable legal system and a disaster for medical resources, but the people were great and scenery beautiful.”

    Reading, Pennsylvania, followed, “as the division general manager for a big plant with over 3,500 people. I then finished my career back where I started, at the Toledo corporate office for the next decade, as vice president for the structure group and vice president of corporate strategy. I’ve seen a lot and done a lot and travelled all over the world, to every continent except Africa and Antarctica. Dana manages 360 locations around the planet and I was at a lot of them!”

    A Small World Getting Smaller

    Somewhere in all these adventures, Bruce discovered Fort Myers Beach, or, more accurately, his parents did! “Mom and Dad started to come to Fort Myers Beach for family vacations in the late 1960s, staying at the Leonardo Arms and the Estero Beach & Tennis Club until they retired and bought their own place. We always came down to visit, and by 2004 real estate was going up faster than the Stock Market so it was the right time to buy something here for the future. My parents were very active at Beach Baptist. Sadly, Dad passed way a few years ago and, in a small world getting smaller, Forrest Critser gave the eulogy.”

    Prior to seeking a seat on Town Council – his first elective office anywhere – Bruce became extraordinarily active in the beach community, something that was brand-new to him: “When I worked, since we moved so much, and I had so many different responsibilities, there was no time for anything other than my family and work. Because of my career with Dana, everything about cars obviously interests me, so the more I came here, the more the traffic situation on Estero Boulevard appalled me, and I could not believe no one could figure this out, as it was a flow problem and that is what I spent most of my time in business solving. Then, unfortunately, two pedestrians got killed at the south end of the island, and (now) Lee County Commissioner Larry Kiker was promoting the Public Safety Committee, and I thought that may be a good opportunity to influence what they will do with Estero Boulevard so I volunteered and it started from there.”

    Next came the Lee County Bicycle & Pedestrian Committee who contacted him because they needed a Beach representative, then Laguna Shores needed a president “and I said I would if no one else would, and of course no one else did so it was me! Then for the Town came the Citizen’s Advisory Committee for Downtown and the Local Planning Agency opportunities, as well as on the Town Audit Committee, where the budget process dismayed me, not only by the questions asked but the questions not asked, so I thought I could help and I volunteered.”

    To Bruce, Council seemed like the natural progression: “I certainly never saw myself ever pursuing an elective office until the budget meetings and the opportunity to make the Town better. Also, since traffic is my initial interest, you can’t have much of an impact on Estero Boulevard unless you are on Council, as I still have thoughts and concerns about that. I certainly didn’t do it for self-satisfaction or ego, but to help the Town to improve its process and our community, and to help us to move forward.”

     

    Gary Mooney