October 6, 2021
It was a full house at City Hall as several generations of Sands and Butlers came to hear Mayor Teri Johnston and the City Commission proclaim Mother Jerline Butler Day in honor of the 107-year-old matriarch.
“Mother Jerline E. Sands Butler, daughter of Bahamian immigrants and one of our city's most senior and most loved citizens, was born in Key West in the year 1914,” reads the proclamation.
“She married Robert Henry Butler in 1936 and they had six children, two of whom are deceased; 21 grandchildren, one deceased; 47 great-grandchildren, two deceased; and 38 great-great-grandchildren, one deceased.
“Inspired by the example and the guidance of Mother Butler, four generations have grown to become members of the clergy, noted musicians, champion athletes, beloved educators attaining high standards in each of their chosen professions, improving their communities, earning the respect and admiration of many by making the world a little better,” it continues.
Mother Butler remained a faithful member at St. Stephens AME Zion Church until its closing, where she was a Sunday School teacher for many years. She is now the eldest Sands or Butler family member living today and as such is the eldest surviving member of Trinity Wesleyan Methodist Church's founding families.
“I’ve known Mother Butler since I was in my single-digit years,” said Commissioner Lopez, who presented the proclamation to the family. “She is truly an icon and matriarch, not only to her family but to the community as well.”
Mother Butler was unable to attend out of an abundance of caution due to the pandemic.
Bishop Derrick Anderson, of St. James 1st Missionary Baptist Church, said knowing Mother Butler is a blessing.
“One blessed thing is to walk into a room with this beautiful lady,” he said, “and get ready to sing a hymn, and she knows the words better than I do!”