David Butler, 61, is the longest-serving director of the Knoxville Museum of Art which has been in its current headquarters for 26 years. He recently completed a decade of service with significant achievements.
Butler came to Knoxville in 2006 from Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University in Kansas. He feels his greatest achievement has been getting the current Museum home renovated, correcting several serious deferred-maintenance issues. Over $6 million was raised including funding for the Cycle of Life by Richard Jolley, given by Steve and Ann Bailey.
Additionally but less visible, he has been raising $4 million for an endowment for the Museum which had no endowment when it opened at the World’s Fair Park a quarter of a century ago.
Butler credits an incredible team of supporters and volunteers for creating the Museum as it is today. He says he considers it “a privilege to have the job I have, to work with the people I do and to live in Knoxville at this time in its history.”
He hopes to retire in Knoxville when he completes his work leading the Museum. He and his partner, Ted Smith, live in South Knoxville.
■ Gov. Bill Haslam last week repudiated Donald Trump, the GOP presidential nominee. He urged Trump to turn the campaign over to Gov. Mike Pence, his running mate. To date only one elected Tennessee Republican has joined him. His father, Jim Haslam, is a $5,400 donor to Trump, but that was before the video with Trump demeaning women surfaced.
Give Haslam credit for voicing his true views, even if they came late in the process. While Haslam has maintained strong personal popularity, his public choices for president have not been accepted by his fellow Tennessee Republicans.
In 2012, he backed Mitt Romney, who lost in Tennessee to both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. In 2016, after backing Jeb Bush, he switched to Marco Rubio a few days before the March 1 primary. Rubio also ran third, behind both Trump and Ted Cruz. (This writer also backed Rubio.)
Whether Haslam will spend time promoting this notion of writing in a different Republican for president on Nov. 8 remains to be seen.
I think Haslam is being true to his real convictions, which may place him away from the center of the GOP base. He also feels Trump simply should not be president. There is little Tennessee political advantage to him for doing this.
Second, the media missed reporting on Tennessee state law which says that candidates who fail to declare their candidacy on a write-in basis within 45 days of the election will not have their vote counted. In other words, this foolish and self-serving law will invalidate the governor’s write-in vote on Nov. 8. He said he would write in the name of another Republican.
■ Congratulations to the Knoxville Botanical Gardens in East Knoxville which was recognized nationally with an American Architecture Award. The new $1.4 million Visitors Center was the reason for the outstanding award. It was one of 370 contenders for the award of which 74 won recognition. These 47 acres have progressed greatly over the past several years with great community support.
■ A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure to tour the new Boys and Girls Club off Broadway. An official opening will occur in November. It is truly impressive and will be an asset to Knoxville. It is already functioning and providing service under the able leadership of Bart McFadden. It serves several thousand young people who otherwise would not be served. We would need to invent this outstanding group if it did not exist.