FRIENDS and former colleagues were shocked and saddened to hear of the death at the age of 60 of Chris Butler, a former Deputy City Editor of the Daily Express.
Chris became ill after visiting the Machu Picchu archeological site in Peru with his wife, Ruthie. Primary liver cancer was diagnosed in May. He and his wife had planned to fly to Canada to await the birth of their first grandchild but, unfortunately, he died peacefully, on Saturday 25 July at home with his family in Bedford.
He began his journalistic career with Metal Work Production and moved to Accountancy Age, where he was News Editor under the then Editor Anthony Hilton, a former City Editor of The Times and now a business columnist with the London Evening Standard.
Anthony said: ‘The first time I met him in 1973 he was news editing Accountancy Age. He had an instinctive feel for a story. He was even then obviously headed for Fleet Street. I suspect the only thing that stopped him rising even higher than he did was that he was such a nice guy.’
Chris had a stint at the Sheffield Telegraph and then moved to the BBC where he was of one of the team that set up Ceefax.
In the late 1970s Chris joined the Daily Express City Office in the old Black Lubyanka building in Fleet Street and specialised in market reporting and City news stories. In 1984 he became the newspaper’s Deputy City Editor when Patrick Lay was appointed City Editor.
Pat said: ‘Chris was unflappable in the tightests of situations. A good mate to have looking ahead, or protecting your back. They don’t make many like him.’
In mid-1986, when financial public relations was booming on the back of Government privatisations, he moved to Financial Dynamics. He left the City, however, in the early 1990s to start his own publishing business. Policy Publications produced training manuals, such as Pricing for Profit and Managing Intellectual Capital, for universities.
Chris then turned his hand to property development, where he had considerable success as he had always been able to see the potential and profit where others saw only a ramshackle pile of bricks and mortar.
Born in Oxford he attended Littlemore Grammar School, where he won an Oxford scholarship to Atlantic College to complete his sixth-form studies. He then went to Nottingham University where he read engineering.
Many years later he could be heard stating, sardonically, over a beer in a Fleet Street hostelry, that it really wasn’t such a big step from getting your hands dirty with nuts and bolts to the sometimes murky world of notebooks and typewriters.
Chris is survived by his wife Ruthie, and daughters Kathryn and Laura.