William Abbott Butler Biography



a pictorial biography


Born in the Anglo American Hospital in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana, Cuba, Billy, as I was soon dubbed, moved into the apartment rented by my mother and father, “But” and “Sally” Butler, at “M” Street and Linea Avenue in Havana. A third story walk-up with rooftop access, it housed us until 1935.
My dad quickly learned the art of diapering

The roof provided a safe walled-in play yard complete with sand box

While I spent much time sunning on the roof

In 1931 my brother Kenny was born.


In 1933?? Batista attacked to oust the Machado government. Soldiers came to mount machine guns on our roof playground. We had to evacuate to a friends home, 5 blocks away.

In 1935 we moved to our new home in La Sierra, in the suburbs.

 This is where Harold Abbott Butler and family lived in Cuba


Those were great years. 
Visited Cousin Helen and cousins in Cincinnati
We joined “Jaimanitas”, the Havana Biltmore Yacht and Country Club”, known by all of us as the “beach”
I made bunches of friends both in our “barrio” and at the beach.
In 1940 my mother, tired of my antics, got me to crew on a “Snorky”, a 12 foot scow type boat, owned by a friend of hers.
This was the start of my life at sea.
Soon after, Dad bought me my first boat, a Snorky called Pallas, #31  I sailed Pallas all over.
With all my buddies.
Ponzo was a close friend
And Joe Duys.
Great years.
We even managed to go to school. Ruston Academy was tops. It taught me everything I needed to know.
Lots of girlfriends!


I burst into the Arts with my performance in the Irma Hart Carrier School of dance recital at Havana’s largest theater, “Fausto”. My part was as a drunken sailor!!!
And later in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” I starred as Caliban, the monster on a deserted island upon which King Prosper was shipwrecked.What great years.
Sailed Mirta C a.k.a Paco Prieto all over.
To Cojimar

To Cayo Paraiso in Bahia La Mulata


In 1946 sailed with Bob Harras, a.k.a. Hari-Hari, in my Snipe, Bluebird, to Matanzas for the Cuban National Snipe Championships. 120 miles up wind. In Matanzas we “hit the town” (censored).
On a whim we sailed 20 miles upwind to Varadero and took these pictures to prove that we made it. In the background, the main pier of the Varadero Yacht Club, soon after destroyed by a hurricane.
Later we stopped by the Cora home for lunch, ate them out of house and home.. we were hungry!!! napped and headed home.
Stopped in Tarara on the way back
June 1947 it was all over.. I graduated.
And headed for Purdue to study Electrical Engineering (in those days the daddy’s decided)More great years.. I studied hard..
Played  Sailed  Rowed
Traveled to see family

and Wooed Elsie Covell1951 was the BIG year... I married Elsie June 9


And graduated June 10..My Dad exclaimed.. I never expected you to make it!!!
All of our relatives came
Aunt Nell
All of Elsie’s sisters from AngolaA great time was held by all
We honeymooned in Cuba
Then started to work for GE in Pittsfield
Our first Apartment was great
A blissful honeymoon
Uncle Benito and Encarnita came to visit
We searched and found the tomb of James Goodrich Covell just north of Pittsfield.
Three months later we moved to Syracuse
What a Cold winter
I worked on the first stages of the early warning system radar installed in Canada

In March 1952 we moved to Schenectady and into a nice apartment in Ballston Lake


I worked on Steam turbine test..


Great times..

We traveled..


Then in April 1952 GE sent us to Key West, me on a top secret acoustic torpedo project at the Navy base


90 miles and $20 round trip from Havana we went often.


Built a boat in the bedroom


Had to remove the window to get it out






In January 1953 we moved into an apartment in to New Rochelle.


I commuted to Manhattan daily


Uncle Sam sent me “greetings” in 1954 and on June 6 I became Private Butler at Fort Dix, NJ.


Basic lasted 8 weeks.


Elsie and I went to Nantucket on my leave.


On to Ft. Bliss in El Paso. Elsie soon followed, driven out by Lyman.


Great studio apartment.


Along came Susie in 1955
Then, Billy
Then, we all moved to Cuba and along came Jimmy
In 1960 Fidel came along and we left Cuba.  We lost our beautiful home and many of our things.
We moved to the Philippines.
Along came Sally

And Joe (I'll find pictures)
In 1967, Elsie and I along with Billy, Jimmy and Susie survived Typhoon Wilma in Siboney.
Other Butler Pics