WASHINGTON TERRACE — Marriott-Slaterville Mayor Keith Butler, who will formally step down in a little over a week, doesn’t have major plans on retiring as the city’s first and, so far, only chief executive.
No cruises. No international travel.
Being a Korean War veteran, maybe he’ll volunteer his time with military vets in area veterans’ homes.
One thing’s for sure — he’ll miss his time at city hall. “Terribly,” Butler said, reflecting on his 50-plus years of civic involvement, first fighting annexation into other locales of what were Marriott and Slaterville townships, then serving as mayor of the merged city of Marriott-Slaterville, formed in 1999.
At the age of 87, though, having foregone a re-election bid, his tenure is winding down. City Councilman Scott Van Leeuwen, winner of last November’s mayoral race, will be sworn in on Jan. 18 as just the second leader of the city. And now, Butler unexpectedly finds himself fighting a new battle — hospitalized last week after suffering a blocked intestine.
It was touch and go for a while, with his future uncertain, said Butler, whose wife died about five years ago. But after surgery, speaking Monday from his hospital bed at Ogden Regional Medical Center as he recuperates, he says he’s “out of the woods, maybe.”
And as one of Marriott-Slaterville’s founding fathers, he offered up a retrospective of his long stint as a booster for the small Weber County city, which sits off the northwestern side of Ogden. “It’s been my life,” he said.
‘GOOD PLACE TO LIVE’
Marriott-Slaterville, with some 1,750 residents, isn’t the biggest Weber County locale. It isn’t the flashiest place, doesn’t have major draws that lure visitors from far and wide. Whatever the case, Butler and a core of other boosters have fought hard to keep it on the map, to keep it from being gobbled up by Ogden and other larger places.
“Good place to live,” Butler said. “We have very little problems.”
His service started in the early 1960s when he was a member of an advisory body to Weber County planners, representing the interests of the adjacent unincorporated areas then just known as Marriott and Slaterville. The two locales — founded by Utah pioneers around 1850 — later formed township governments, and Butler served as chairman of Slaterville Township with Bill Morris taking on responsibilities as chairman of Marriott Township.
State lawmakers later eliminated the township form of government, however, and Butler and Morris helped lead the subsequent campaign to form Marriott-Slaterville, effective July 1, 1999. The last thing they wanted was to become an anonymous corner of Ogden, Farr West or Plain City.
“Pioneer communities love their heritage,” Morris said. “They love their identity.”
Technically, being mayor is and always has been a part-time job in Marriott-Slaterville. Butler, who served in the U.S. Air Force, worked for many years as a civilian employee at Hill Air Force Base and then as a consultant before retiring.
But he has thrown his all into it.
“He was very hands-on in everything that he did,” said Van Leeuwen. “I would attribute it to the love of the city itself.”
Morris, now administrator and city attorney for Marriott-Slaterville, recalled the city’s early days, working with Butler.
“We had to create the city from nothing,” Morris said. “I’d throw out the ideas and he’d see how we’d implement them into policy.”
Among his proudest achievements, Butler said, has been running the city without ever levying city property taxes, per one of his key commitments as mayor.
More than that, perhaps, has been the people. “I’m just so proud of all the volunteers I had, the (city) councils I had. Just the love of the people,” Butler said.