The family will organize a memorial service to celebrate Elmer’s life in Clarkesville, sometime in spring/summer 2012.
Born July 19, 1916, in Winnsboro, La., he was the son of Pearl Scott, a school teacher, and Hansford Butler, a farmer.
Elmer graduated with a degree in business from Louisiana Tech in 1938 and joined the Navy in 1942. He was part of the invasion of North Africa and later served in the South Pacific as captain of an LSM prior to the Japanese surrender in 1945. Elmer settled in Shreveport, La., after the war where he met and married Betty Nelson in 1948. They raised four children.
Elmer worked as an accountant for various pipeline companies in Shreveport and then joined Colonial Pipeline and moved the family to Atlanta in 1963. He retired in 1981. He and Betty then moved to north Georgia, building a log house on land surrounded by woods and above Panther Creek, near Clarkesville. They remained at their home they called “Hawk Ridge” until June 2011, when they moved to Portland, Ore., to live near their daughter.
Elmer was deeply committed to his community, shown through his service to the Boy Scouts, the church and various environmental organizations. He was awarded the Silver Beaver in 1971 for his valued service to urban Scout troops in Atlanta.
Elmer was an active member of the church, serving as an elder at Druid Hills Presbyterian in Atlanta and then at First Presbyterian Church in Clarkesville. He volunteered many hours for the Georgia Conservancy, the Pine Mountain Trail Association, Forest Watch, the Soque River Watershed Association, the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club and the Wild Edibles, among others.
Elmer was an avid outdoorsman throughout his life. He enjoyed backpacking, hiking, canoeing, wildflowers and birds, basically anything having to do with nature. He loved gardening. He also took physical fitness seriously. He became a runner in the late 1960s and competed in dozens of races over the next 30 years, often winning first place in his age group. In 1996, he carried the Olympic Torch through downtown Clarkesville. He participated in several long distance bike rides across Georgia and walked more than 1,000 miles twice as part of organized Habitat for Humanity walks. He was physically active, hiking, chopping wood and gardening, well into his 80s.
Elmer is survived by his wife of 63 years, Betty; his children, John, Will, David and Virginia; and grandchildren, Lael and Abigail.
Memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church in Clarkesville or the Soque River Watershed Association.
The Northeast Georgian
November 18, 2011