Remembering "Mommy" Essie

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

Essie Butler was a sweet lady, always open to sharing and helping others — except if you started snooping around about her age, says her daughter.

Butler, the mother of Hatch Principal Sheila Carter, died in May. In a recent interview, Carter recalled how "Mommy Essie," as she was called by her grandkids, sometimes put the kibosh on questions about her age.  

"My mother, oh please, you couldn't ask her her age, OK. My son — now he was just a little toddler — so, it's his birthday and he asks, 'Mommy Essie, how old are you?' And she looked at him and said 'Why you want to know my age?' He's a little kid and she's getting upset?" Carter said with a loud laugh. 

Her mom, she said, never "lived her age," and neither does Carter, who has no problem saying how old she is — 59. Carter said she's never before thought about what's the saddest day of her life but says it was May 16, when her mom died.

"Very sad, very sad. I learned a lot from her. My mom was a good person. She believed in helping others. She was very active in the church. She had a good attitude, although in some cases I had to help her on that, because if you wronged her or one of her kids, she was done with you," Carter said with a laugh. "We had to work with her on that, but she was just really good to people. And she was stunningly beautiful, by the way. I just always admired her."

The bubbly and cheerful Carter also admired her dad, she said. Marshall Butler, who was called "Daddy Marshall" by the grandkids, currently lives on the South Side. Carter said she was called "Little Miss Butler" by her classmates back in high school on the South Side. Her parents were married for 61 years.

"My dad's a talker. Oh my gosh, he loves to chat," Carter said. "In fact, at the funeral he wasn't going to stay; just view the body and leave. Well, my entire staff showed up at the funeral and visitation. Oh, did he love that. Talked to them about everything, I mean just talk, talk, talk. So, they made his day by being there."

Carter, who's retiring next summer after 38 years in the district, said she's looking forward to spending more time with her father.

Related article: 'Positive' principal will step down at Hatch

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