Howard E. Butt Jr. passed away at the age of 89 on Sunday. The oldest son of H-E-B founder Howard E. Butt Sr., Butt died from complications of Parkinson’s Disease at his home in San Antonio.
Howard’s brother Charles is the Chairman and CEO of the H-E-B grocery chain, which operates more than 350 stores. Forbes ranked the chain as America’s 15th largest private company in 2014.
Though originally groomed for the CEO position, Howard Jr. eventually sought a different calling from his father. He attended Baylor University in the 1940s. While he had great experience in the grocery business, Howard Jr. wanted to go into ministry. His brother Charles eventually stepped in to take on the role of CEO, relieving a great burden for Howard Jr., who later detailed his bout with depression over the stress.
But Howard Jr. remained a very important and vocal part of the company. He took over the H. E. Butt Family Foundation in 1982, one of the state’s largest philanthropic organizations. He also founded the Laity Lodge and voiced the folksy radio spots “The High Calling Of Our Daily Work.”
Thanks to the Butt Family Foundation under Howard Jr.’s guidance, South Texas has new hospitals and libraries. The foundation also operates free camps for disadvantaged children along with faith-based retreats.
Howard Butt Sr. had five children including Howard Jr. Together, the five operated one of the country’s largest family fortunes, valued at more than $11 billion.
Those wishing to pay their respects to Howard Jr. have a chance this weekends. A memorial service celebrating the life and witness of Howard E. Butt, Jr., will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, at Trinity Baptist Church, 319 E. Mulberry Ave., San Antonio, Texas 78212.