When dealing with political officials and public figures, I may take a little different view than some. I may or may not agree agree with their policies and views, but I give credit to those who speak from the heart, care about what they're doing and are accessible to the public. That is how I remember Butch Felker. I know there will be those who will refuse to join in the positive remembrance, and choose instead to dwell on how his final term as mayor ended. But I look at what followed. Who would have blamed Butch Felker if he'd retreated from community involvement or left Topeka altogether. Instead, he chose to not only stay but to be as involved as ever in a variety of organizations, leading the Heartland Park Foundation's efforts to help children, raising money for the United Way campaign, pitching in with the Chamber of Commerce and Topeka Zoo and much more. I would run into Butch Felker at events regularly. I'd ask him how he was doing, and the response usually began with, "Doing all right. We got..." - then he'd launch into a rundown of the latest project he was working on, talking about the plans for getting it accomplished. From those I spoke with sharing their memories of Butch Felker, it was much the same - not talking about himself, but about something happening to help someone else. Nancy Perry of the United Way said, "I don't think any of us really knew how sick Butch was." She also told me she doesn't think anyone was aware how much volunteering he did to help others. "Even after he left office, he really did try to make things better, make our community better," she told me. "I hope that's what people remember about him." There are public figures who make a mistake and ride off in a spirit of coyness and smug denial. But not Butch Felker. And that's what I will remember.
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