By Tim Hunt
Bob Butler contributed much to the Pleasanton people enjoy todayUploaded: Oct 19, 2021
Pleasanton lost a citizen who played a key role in the formation of the city we see today when Bob Butler died in his home of natural causes Oct. 5. He was 83.
Butler served four years on the Planning Commission and then was elected to the City Council in 1978. He won re-election four times and held the seat for 14 years. He served as mayor when the city was considering Hacienda Business Park and three other business parks in the early 1980s. Hacienda is the largest master-planned park in Northern California.
Those business parks transformed Pleasanton from a family-friend suburb into a job center that remained family friendly with quiet neighbors, quality public education and plenty of parks. The legacy of those decisions continues to resonate in the city today as it has become headquarters to a large cluster of life science companies that have grown from start-ups to flourishing firms here.
Stoneridge Regional Shopping Center was approved and opened during his service with the city and the city negotiated the agreement to annex the Ruby Hill development on Vineyard Avenue. The Senior Center and the Library also were built in that season.
Trained as a mechanical engineer, he held a professional engineer’s license. He approached decisions from the perspective of what’s best for the city without concern for the politics of a particular situation.
He also lived a remarkably balanced life. Professionally, Bob worked as a nuclear engineer at General Electric’s Vallecitos facility that made radioactive isotopes for medical use. He also served 28 years in the U.S. Army (active and reserves) and worked in the Nuclear Agency, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
Unlike some employers, G.E. made no allowance for public service so he worked his full-time job and then turned to city business. He and his wife, MaryAnn, were both gifted musicians and played in several bands and orchestras. Bob’s musical skills ranged from brass to woodwinds to percussion. That included using a typewriter at the Livermore Amador Symphony to provide the percussion. City business could not intrude on music time.
Bob retired from G.E. after 35 years and started new careers. He earned a real estate license as a mortgage broker and then 15 years ago established a tax service as a licensed preparer. At 83, he was still going to the tax office every Tuesday as well as playing in two bands.
I was aware of his commitment to music—we enjoyed the symphony’s annual pops concerts with friends for many years—but learned so much more as I helped the family with his obituary.
He learned to fly and got his pilot’s license at 61. He loved to fly his Cessna. In addition, he raced his sailboat on San Francisco Bay so he was covered land, sea and air.
Bob was the rare elected official who had a simple agenda—what’s best for Pleasanton—and never let the power and prestige of that position change him. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, where Bob was an active volunteer and participant in the services.