2005-10-11 19:03:11 UTC
October 7, 2005
Edward Scannell Butler III, a New Orleans radio host and anti-communist
activist who debated Lee Harvey Oswald on the air three months before
President Kennedy's assassination, died Aug. 31 of a heart attack at
Louisiana Heart Hospital in Lacombe. He was 71.
Mr. Butler was born in New Orleans, worked in Holmby Hills, Calif., for
many years and most recently lived in Slidell. At the time of his
death, he was awaiting heart surgery to correct problems that arose
immediately before the arrival of Hurricane Katrina, said his brother,
Perrin Butler of Metairie.
During a stint in the Army, Mr. Butler worked with the Defense
Intelligence Agency while stationed at the Army Management School at
Fort Belvoir, Va. Later, he co-founded The Information Council Of The
Americas, a non-profit organization that became involved with aiding
people displaced by Fidel Castro's communist revolution in Cuba.
In the course of his work with the council, Mr. Butler came in contact
with Oswald, who was promoting a pro-Castro organization in New Orleans
and seeking help from the American Communist Party. Mr. Butler
confronted Oswald on a New Orleans radio show in August 1963 and forced
him to admit that as a Marxist, he had gone to the Soviet Union and
tried to renounce his U.S. citizenship.
Oswald soon moved to Dallas, killing Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. In 2002,
Mr. Butler recalled his on-air debate with Oswald:
"He wore a very heavy wool suit in August, a very hot August day in New
Orleans. He was parboiling, but he didn't have a bead of sweat on him,
and he was very self-contained.
"I was shocked when I heard he had killed Kennedy. I would not have
been shocked if he had tried to kill me. I was concerned about the guy
from the minute I met him."
After Kennedy's assassination, Mr. Butler wrote a study of political
revolution, "Revolution Is My Profession," in which he predicted unrest
in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s and the rise of
terrorism. He also produced a television show based in large measure on
the Oswald radio debate, as well as a feature film examining the nature
of the Castro regime: "Hitler In Havana."
During his years in California, Mr. Butler produced and starred in a
weekly television show, "The Square World Of Ed Butler," and in
documentaries, including two series: "Spirit '76" and "Spirit U.S." He
also published a West Coast magazine, "Westwood Village Square."
More recently, Mr. Butler managed radio station WTIX-AM in New Orleans,
where he conducted an afternoon talk show.
Mr. Butler is survived by five children, Edward Scannell Butler IV of
Redondo Beach, Calif., Nola Butler of Pasadena, Calif., Matthew Thomson
Butler of Beaverton, Ore., Clarkston Butler of Slidell and Dawn Butler
Edelen of Lafayette; four grandchildren; brothers Perrin
Butler of Metairie and Rhett Butler of Troy, Ala.; and a sister, Lynn
Butler Mauney of New Orleans.
A memorial service will be at a later time, when travel restrictions
related to Hurricane Katrina are sufficiently eased. For more
information, call Perrin Butler at (504) 831-5958