BEVERLY, Mass. —
When Fred’s wife, Ruth, died last September, family members decided to boost his spirits by pursuing the idea of an honorary diploma. Cathy Butler contacted City Council President Paul Guanci, who got the process under way and served as master of ceremonies.
“We just thought it was time,” granddaughter Beth Calabro said. “Let’s do it now before it’s too late.”
Family members described Butler as humble, hardworking and honest. As a seventh- and eighth-grader, he would work at the print shop in the morning and go to school in the afternoon. Guy Calabro, his son-in-law, said Butler dug underground trenches with a shovel in the days before the water department had more advanced equipment.
Beth Calabro recalled the day when Butler cashed his paycheck and realized the teller had given him too much money. He went back into the bank to return the money, prompting the stunned teller to give him a box of chocolates.
“He’s a man of faith,” Beth Calabro said. “He prayed on his knees until he was no longer able to do so.”
“It’s a long time to wait for your diploma,” Scanlon said, “but you’ve obviously earned it very well.”