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SC’s first black school superintendent laid to rest

Butler served as a Deacon at the Historic Taw Caw Baptist Church where he was laid to rest...
Butler served as a Deacon at the Historic Taw Caw Baptist Church where he was laid to rest Saturday next to his late wife, Ann.(WIS)
Published: Jul. 25, 2021 at 4:50 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Broadus O. Butler, commonly known as B.O., died at the age of 97 on July 20, 2021. He served as an educator in Clarendon District 1 schools and as the principal of Scott’s Branch High School from 1956 to 1971. He later became superintendent of Clarendon District 1, making him the first black superintendent in the state of South Carolina as recognized by the NAACP.

Butler served as a Deacon at the Historic Taw Caw Baptist Church where he was laid to rest Saturday next to his late wife, Ann.

Family, friends, students, and coworkers traveled from around the southeast to attend the procession from Broadus O. Butler Avenue in downtown Summerton to Taw Caw Baptist where the burial was held.

“That man gave me counseling during a time when I really needed it that carried me throughout my life,” said Joseph Ingle, a former student of Butler. “He was always there when I was a student, and then later as an adult.”

Many shared that Butler faithfully served his community and his students, acting as a father figure, even for those to whom he was not related.

“You could go to him and talk to him about any situation,” said Billy Shaw. “Very good gentleman.”

B.O. earned many awards during his lifetime from community members to thank him for his service to Summerton. Butler’s grandson shared during the service that in Butler’s home, he had an awards wall where there ended up being “more awards than there was wall,” which shows just how much of an impact Butler had on Clarendon County.

“Rarely do we get a chance to have someone live as long as he did and have as much influence. With all the accomplishments that he made, he was still a humble man,” said Bobby Brockman, nephew of Butler.

In 2014, community members and State Sen. Kevin Johnson (District 36) rallied together and introduced a bill to rename part of 4th Street in Summerton in Butler’s honor. Mary and Martha Wilson, graduates of Scott’s Branch High School, say the renaming brings back fond memories of Butler.

“And every day as we walk down the BO Butler Avenue, we will always have his name and his face and his thoughts in our prayers,” says Martha Wilson.

Johnson says the community already feels the loss of Butler.

“A great man has been lost from our community. His legacy will live on forever, thankfully, but he’s going to be sorely missed from our community. What our community lacks is more people like Deacon BO Butler.”

Butler was fondly referred to as Summerton’s version of “Joe Clark” from the movie ‘Lean on Me,’ as he was at times an unconventional educator, but he was nevertheless a memorable community educator and leader.

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