HEB Founding Family's Howard E. Butt Jr. Passes at 89

HEB Founding Family's Howard E. Butt Jr. Passes at 89

SAN ANTONIO, TX - Howard Butt, Jr., brother of HEB CEO Charles Butt, passed away Sunday evening at the age of 89.

Howard E. Butt Jr.

He served as President of the H.E. Butt Foundation and as Vice Chairman of the HEB Board for several decades, which was founded in 1933 by his parents, Howard Butt Sr. and Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth-Butt.

Charles Butt, CEO, H-E-B "We are deeply saddened by the loss of my brother, Howard," said his brother Charles, HEB CEO, according to a release. "His decades of inspired leadership, philanthropy, and humanitarian efforts will forever be missed by our family and those he impacted across the U.S."

One of the largest family‑owned companies in Texas, HEB is led by family members including, in addition to Charles, Howard Butt III and Stephen Butt.

Born in Kerrville, Texas, on September 8, 1927, Butt grew up in the food business founded by his grandmother, Florence, in 1905. He attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, graduated in 1947 with a degree in business, and soon afterward married his longtime sweetheart, Barbara Dan Gerber.

While working in the family business, Howard, Jr., continued to pursue spiritual endeavors. According to the company, he is perhaps best remembered for nationally convening groups from all walks of life for intellectual discussion and inspired reflection, naming him a bridge-builder between the secular and religious worlds. Howard, Jr. created the Layman’s Leadership Institute with evangelist Billy Graham, which hosted national faith‑based programs for business professionals. In recognition of his efforts on behalf of workers, Butt was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to the first Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity.

In 1982, he assumed presidency of the H.E. Butt Foundation. As one of the earliest private foundations in Texas, HEB noted that the foundation served as a vehicle for philanthropic contributions to south Texas communities. In 1954, the foundation acquired 1,900 acres in the rural Texas Hill Country to provide free outdoor camping facilities for underprivileged children. After Howard, Jr. took on leadership of the foundation, he was able to greatly expand his parents’ vision, serving more than 20,000 campers each year–almost one million to date–including from churches and other non‑profit groups. He also established the Laity Lodge Retreat Center in the Texas Hill Country west of San Antonio.

The AndNowUKnow team wishes to express our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and those touched by this loss.