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Celebrating the leadership, vision, tenacity, and love of community shared by the recipients of the Great Living Cincinnatian Award, presented annually by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber since 1967.
“First we make sure we are right, den vee show them speed,” William P. Butler said in his best German accent, quoting one of his mentors, Albert Lubrecht, a builder for whom Mr. Butler worked during college. “We often talked for hours about my dreams and desires.”
Mr. Butler is now living the dream as chairman of the board and CEO of Corporex Companies, which he founded in 1965. Under Mr. Butler’s leadership, Corporex has evolved into a diverse real estate and investment company with over $1.5 billion in assets in seventeen states. “I entered business at age 22, driven by a dream to build and succeed,” said Butler. “I formed American Structural Systems, W.P. Butler Company and others, all of which merged into Corporex. I’ve had the same job now for 51 years.”
During that time, Mr. Butler and Corporex have developed and constructed more than 800 buildings in 24 states. Gateway projects include Circleport Business Park near the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport, RiverCenter office towers, and the Ascent, a world acclaimed residential tower in Northern Kentucky.
As a civic leader, Mr. Butler is credited with leading efforts toward unity and regionalism. “Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky is a supportive community where one can make deep personal relationships in a hurry,” said Butler. He is the founder and past Co-Chairman of the Metropolitan Growth Alliance. In 1981, he chaired the Economic Development Task Force Report for then-Governor, John Y. Brown, Jr., which provided the first vision for Northern Kentucky. Mr. Butler also chaired “Quest,” a visioning process for Northern Kentucky’s future, which provided a community development roadmap for the next 20 years.
As a philanthropist and social and academic contributor, Mr. Butler is the visionary and founder of The Butler Foundation and The Life Learning Center. He serves as a Trustee/Board member of United Way of Greater Cincinnati, the Dan Beard Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Lindner Center of Hope, the Metropolitan Club, and the Catalytic Development Funding Corporation of Northern Kentucky. He is a member of the Northern Kentucky University Presidential Advisory Council, United Way’s Million Dollar Roundtable and the Alexis de Tocqueville Society. He is also an initial investor and director of Bexion Pharmaceuticals, a firm developing innovative cures for cancer in cooperation with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
“I believe the most important thing in life – is life itself,” said Butler. “Too often we miss the process, the learning, the growing experience of the journey through life, the love dimension. When we arrive at the point in our life where we can take comfort in a sense of fulfillment about our mission and purpose and how we have responded to same, what we have accomplished, how we have served; we will experience measurable success.”
His accolades include the Carl H. Lindner Award for Entrepreneurial and Civic Spirit presented by the Deloitte Cincinnati USA 100; the National Entrepreneur of the Year Award presented by the Kaufmann Institute for Entrepreneurship; Visionary of the Year Award presented by United Way Northern Kentucky; Developer of the Year presented by the University of Cincinnati; and Business Person of the Year Award presented by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Business Hall of Fame.
Mr. Butler is a graduate of Ohio College of Applied Science and has been married 49 years to his wife, Sue. They have two children, and four grandchildren. “And then there is my Corporex Family,” added Butler. “I have come to realize that they too are familial at a minimum, and I love them in a similar way.”
Recipients are selected from candidates by the Cincinnati Chamber’s senior council based on the following criteria: – Community service – Business and civic attainment on a local, state and national or international level – Leadership – Awareness of the needs of others – Distinctive accomplishments that have brought favorable attention to their community, institution or organization