Outstanding Women of Clinton County: Rita Butcher


This is the first of seven profiles of the honorees of the 25th-annual Outstanding Women of Clinton County Class of 2024. More information on the event, including how to obtain tickets, appears at the end of each profile.

Rita Butcher, a beloved face in Clinton County, is a woman of immense heart and boundless energy. With a nurturing spirit, she has been a bedrock of the community for decades, influencing countless lives through her generosity and commitment to service.

Growing up in Port William, Ohio, the daughter of Robert and Ellen Haley, Rita’s roots run deep in Clinton County. From an early age, she learned the value of hard work and compassion from her close-knit family.

Her journey of service began over 30 years ago when she worked the election polls for the first time in 1964 during the presidential race between Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater. Since then, she has been a steadfast presence at polling stations across the county, ensuring that the democratic process runs smoothly.

Her dedication to her faith and community is evident in her more than 25 years of service with her husband Dick in the marriage program at St. Columbkille Catholic Church. Together, they met with countless couples preparing for marriage, providing guidance and support as they embarked on their journey together.

In 1982, Rita and Dick started an evening for all married couples in the parish, entitled “We Believe in Marriage,” which continues to this day. This program has been a source of strength and encouragement for many couples in the community.

Rita has also been an active member of the Prayer Shawl Ministry since its inception in 2010. The ministry provides hand-knitted and hand-crocheted shawls to those who are ill or in need of healing comfort. Rita’s compassionate heart has led to the distribution of hundreds of these meaningful prayer shawls locally.

Rita is not only dedicated to her faith and her community but also to her family. She and Dick raised 10 children together, all of whom attended Wilmington City Schools. Throughout her life, Rita also lovingly served as a caretaker for various family members in failing health, including her cousin, father, brother, and husband.

She has been an active member of the Clinton County Democratic Headquarters for many years, serving as chairwoman and organizing events to support the party. She has also been involved in local political campaigns, helping to get out the vote and raise awareness about important issues facing the community.

In addition to her community involvement, many may not realize that Rita is also an accomplished author. She has written several books, including the popular “Growing Up A Place Called ‘Port,’” about her early life in Port William, and “God’s Country,” about her husband’s hometown in Indiana. She has also written a cookbook called “‘Hey, Mom! What’s for Dinner?’”

She has been frequently invited to speak at various civic, social, and collegiate groups for many decades. She has hosted Wilmington College students who were unable to go home for extended school breaks and formerly worked part-time as a director for the Latchkey program in the Extension Office.

In her spare time, Rita created a business called Dress Ups & Tea Cups with her neighbor Frankie Baker, where she taught etiquette and manners to girls of all ages for many years. Many of the young ladies in the community today probably can recall the special memories of time spent at Rita’s for a tea or dress-up party.

Rita’s dedication to her community, her family, and her causes has earned her numerous accolades, including being named “Lady of the Year” by Beta Sigma Phi sorority in 1989 and receiving a service award from Smith Place School in 1977. She also received honorable mention in the All-Ohio Bake-a-Rama contest in 1969.

Rita Butcher is more than just “the woman with all those kids.” She is a community organizer, historian, documentarian, and compassionate caregiver. Her impact on Clinton County is immeasurable, and her legacy of service as an Outstanding Woman will continue to inspire for generations to come.

Each honoree will be individually profiled in the pages of the News Journal in the days leading up to the 2024 Outstanding Women of Clinton County luncheon ceremony, set for Saturday, April 6 at the Roberts Centre near Wilmington. Doors will open at 11:45 a.m. with the luncheon starting promptly at 12:30 p.m.

The keynote speaker will be Sigrid Solomon, vice president, chief student affairs office and dean of students at Wilmington College.

Tickets for the 2024 Outstanding Women of Clinton County are $35 (cash or check payable to Clinton County Foundation). Reservations can be made at the Wilmington News Journal, 1547 Rombach Avenue, Wilmington. Credit card payments are $36, and can be made online at https://ccf.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/list/event?event_date_id=1466. If your business would like to support the banquet, reach out to [email protected].

Ticket reservations are available March 1 to March 25.

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