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Earl R. "Moose" Butler


Ret. Sheriff Earl R. “Moose” Butler, 84, of Fayetteville passed away on March 20, 2022.

He is preceded in death by his brothers, Clyde Butler, Hubert Butler, and his sisters, Margaret Parrish, Betty Jo Beasley, and Annie Merle Butler. He leaves behind to cherish his loving   memory, his beloved wife, Julia Sherrill Butler of the home; daughter, Karen Butler Sykes (Richard) of Fayetteville; son, Earl R. Butler, Jr. (Martie) of Pinehurst; his loving grandchildren, Jordan Butler of Raleigh, Harrison Butler and Julia Butler of Pinehurst and a host of nieces and nephews.

Born July 21, 1937, to the late Reverend Oscar Lee Butler and Mattie Pait, Butler grew up in the Massey Hill community. He graduated from Massey Hill High School in 1956, where he was a gifted three sport athlete under the late Young Howard. Butler married his high school sweetheart, Julia Sherrill Butler, on July 21, 1962.  They were happily married for 59 years. He earned an athletic scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and played football under Coach Jim Tatum.  Butler played on the 1960 College All-Star Team that played against the NFL Champion Baltimore Colts at Soldier Field in Chicago.

In 1960, Butler was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League.  Later, he returned to Cumberland County and worked for 30 years as teacher in the Cumberland

County Schools, and eventually as a Branch Manager with the North Carolina Department of Correction, Division of Community Corrections before being elected Sheriff. He served six terms as Sheriff of Cumberland County until his retirement after 22 years in December, 2016. 

Among Butler‘s accomplishments as Sheriff, were national and international accreditation of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, the construction of a new Cumberland County Detention Center, a permanent memorial honoring law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty, as well as the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Training Center which the County Commissioners later voted unanimously to rename in his honor as the Earl Moose Butler Training Center.

During his career as sheriff, Butler served on various boards to include the Governor’s Crime Commission and as President of the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association from 2001-2002.

Butler was honored in August when Princeton Street in Massey Hill was renamed Moose Butler Lane in a unanimous vote by the Fayetteville City Council. Butler and his wife, Julia, have been members of Massey Hill Baptist Church for over 60 years, where he has served as Chairman of the Deacons for many years.

A Public Viewing will be held on Wednesday, March 23, 2022, at the Rogers and Breece Funeral Home. 500 Ramsey Street, Fayetteville, NC 28301 from the receiving time of 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Celebration of Life Services will be held on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at 2 p.m. (limited seating capacity) at Massey Hill Baptist Church in Fayetteville.  Pastor Tim Evans officiating.

The family requests that memorials be made to: Falcon Children’s Home 7569 N. West Street Falcon, NC 28342 and the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center 123 W. Franklin Street Suite 510, Chapel Hill, NC 27516.

The interment will follow at the Cross Creek Cemetery with a private graveside service.

Arrangements are being handled by Rogers and Breece Funeral Home.