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Eugene Butler was born on June 11, 1894, in Starkville, Mississippi. His father, Dr. Tait Butler, was co-supervisor of Progressive Farmer magazine and a professor of veterinary medicine at Mississippi A&M (now Mississippi State). Butler enrolled in Mississippi A&M in 1909 and received his first bachelor's degree in 1913 at the age of nineteen. He then worked as a farm laborer for four years to gain experience while simultaneously pursuing additional degrees. He received a second bachelor's degree in Agriculture from Cornell University in 1915. From Cornell, he went to Iowa State University where he received a master's degree in Agronomy in 1917. His education completed, Butler returned home to work with his father and soon became involved with the Progressive Farmer as an assistant editor in Memphis, Tennessee.
After his initial position as assistant editor, Butler rapidly climbed the Progressive Farmer administrative ladder. In 1922 he became editor of the Texas edition of Progressive Farmer and manager of the Dallas office. He remained in Dallas and became a member of the executive committee in 1939, vice-president of the board of directors in 1943, and president of the company in 1953. Six years later he was named chairman of the editorial board and editor-in-chief.
Butler served as president of the Progressive Farmer Company until 1968, after which the company's name was changed to Southern Progress Corporation. However, he retained his titles as chairman of the board and editor-in-chief. In 1983 Southern Progress Corporation was purchased by Time Inc. Since his retirement as editor-in-chief, Butler has remained active in the Progressive Farmer Company by continuing to research and write the history of the company.
Following in his father's footsteps, Butler achieved many goals for the Progressive Farmer Company during his more than half a century as editor. Among these achievements were two new additions to the company: Southern Living and the Oxmoor Press of Birmingham, Alabama.
Butler did not restrict himself to working on the magazine, however. His interests lay in almost any area relating to agriculture. Some of his more significant involvements were in crusades for better rural life, farm legislation, and farm practices. Throughout his career, Butler gave numerous speeches, wrote hundreds of articles and editorials, and collected extensive information on contemporary agricultural issues ranging from rural health to better methods of cotton fertilization. In the fifty years of his activity, Butler worked for and witnessed remarkable progress in many of these areas.
He was a charter member of the Texas Agricultural Workers Association, a charter member and historian of the Dallas Agricultural Club, and a researcher and activist for cotton insect control.
In recognition of his contributions, both to the Progressive Farmer and other causes, Butler received several awards. Among them were the Hoblitzelle Award in 1953 and an award for "Outstanding Contribution to Welfare of all Texas Agriculture through Accurate and Effective Presentation of Information and Constructive Leadership" given by the Texas Cottonseed Crushers Association.
Always very active and involved, Butler has enjoyed reading, gardening, collecting books on the Confederacy, golfing, and fishing all his life.
Butler married Mary Britt Burns in 1921. They had one son, Eugene Britt, and one daughter, Mary Jean. The son followed in his father's footsteps in working for the Progressive Farmer Company.