Raymond Butler

Raymond Butler, avid cyclist, died at 74 after a car hit him while he was riding his bike home. In his memory, family members have come together to spread bike safety awareness with a run called Share the Road.  

Raymond Butler was all things outdoors from cycling to running to canoeing. At age 74, he still rode his bike every day in the summer, averaging 100 miles a week. 

One day, biking home from his part-time job, he was hit by a car. He was 0.3 miles from home. Raymond sustained multiple injuries and died the following day. 

That was eight months ago and now family members are keeping his memory alive through the inaugural 5K run/walk race — “Share The Road, Remembering Raymond Butler.”

“It was bittersweet to know that he died doing something that he loved, but to know he didn’t get to live as long as we all hoped he would,” said Rebecca Gilbert Butler, Raymond’s sister. 

Rebecca and Raymond were close throughout their lives with both keeping active. Rebecca said Raymond gave her her love of running 40 years ago. Before his death, they ran together during the winter when the days were too short for Raymond to bike. 

She said she knows many people would also call Raymond a forever encourager. After every race, Rebecca would give him a ring.  

“I’d call and say, ‘Well this is how I did.’ He’d say, ‘You did great. You see, that's what that training does for you,’” Rebecca recalled. “Next week if it wasn’t so good, he’d say, ‘That’s OK. Get back out there, keep training, do better next time.’”   

Raymond touched many lives. When the family held a memorial service after the initial accident, the church was filled with people, some spilling out the door. Rebecca said it was amazing to see how many people cared for Raymond. 

Raymond was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. After getting multiple degrees, he worked as a counselor and taught school before working at Russell Athletic. After 23 years, he retired and started part time at Eclectic’s Do It Center for 12 years. 

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Raymond’s time was cut short. Four days before he was hit, Rebecca and Raymond were in the woods working on one of Raymond's other hobbies, landscaping. They were digging up rocks when Raymond commented they were going to grow well into their old age.   

“He said, ‘We’re going to live a long time.’ God had other plans,” Rebecca said. 

Part of this race is also to spread more awareness about cyclists’ safety. Rebecca said her brother was one of the safest cyclists she knew. If a car wasn’t paying attention, he would jump into the ditch and he stayed as close to the grass as he could. This car was just too fast before he had the chance to react. 

“Cyclists are everywhere. People need to watch for them, and they have a legal right to be on the road,” Rebecca said. “So, we would love to be able to purchase the signs that say, ‘Share the road’ with a little tag line under it about remembering Raymond. It only takes a second of not being attentive to your driving to take a life.”

As part of the awareness, the family is also hoping to partner with Bike Friendly ATL, which places ghost bikes, or white-painted bikes, by roadsides where a biking accident occurred. The goal is to have the ghost bike ceremony following the race.

The “Share The Road” race is at 8 a.m. June 10 at Elmore County High School. Registration is now open, and participants can sign up at RunSignUp.com. Registration costs $30 and includes a “Share The Road” t-shirt if registered before June 2. There also is same-day registration starting at 6:30 a.m. and T-shirts will be provided based on availability.  

There also will be a winner for overall male and female finishers as well as winners for each age group. For those who wish to support, but can’t come out that day, individuals can also donate to the cause on the registration website. Sponsorships are also available. 

“We really encourage people to come out and remember Raymond when you are doing it,” Rebecca said. 

Abigail Murphy is a multimedia reporter for Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc. To contact Abigail Murphy, email abigail.murphy@alexcityoutlook.com.