by Jacki Mick
It's a sad day for Florida art. Robert Butler, one of the 26 artists known as the Florida Highwaymen passed away this morning, as a result of complications related to his thirty-year battle with diabetes. According to his wife of 50 years, Butler spent the past week in a hospital and was recently moved to a nursing home, where he was recovering from a stroke. “I didn’t expect it to be so soon,” she said from her Lakeland home. “He meant the world to me. He’s always been very loving and he loved his kids. He’s the only man in my whole life.”
Born in Georgia in 1943, Butler moved to Okeechobee, Florida when he was only 6 years old. The Florida Everglades of his childhood became the one of the main focuses of his painting when he began in 1968. As one of the Florida Highwaymen, Butler would paint using whatever materials he could get his hands on and then sell his paintings on the weekends for about $25. Today, the work of the Highwaymen are auctioning at $4,000. According to FloridaHighwaymen.com, only 17 of the original 26 Highwaymen are still alive.
Butler's art could be seen most recently at the Florida Highwaymen Art Extravaganza in Davenport, Florida.
If you'd like to read more about the legendary Florida Highwaymen, check out our story about another highwayman, Al "Blood" Black.