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Former Cook County Commissioner Jerry Butler’s wife dies

Annette Butler once served as backup singer for her husband

Crusader Staff Report

Annette Butler, the wife of former Cook County Commissioner Jerry Butler, died Sunday at Belmont Village Senior Living in Oak Park. She was 81.

Annette was a graduate of Lucy Flower High School and worked as a nurse’s aide at what was then known as Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

In 1959, Annette married Jerry Butler in a grand wedding at Mount Sinai Baptist Church. The nuptials featured many top Rhythm and Blues artists. The groomsmen included Chuck Barksdale of the Moonglows and later of the Dells, Moonglows’ lead singer and later Motown architect, Harvey Fuqua. Another groomsman was singer Wade Flemons, who later performed with Earth Wind & Fire.

Jerry Butler grew up in the Cabrini-Green Housing Projects. Butler met Curtis Mayfield, with whom he began his musical career as part of a quintet called “Jerry Butler and The Impressions.”

In 1958, The Impressions had their first hit with the classic “For Your Precious Love,” after which the group cordially split and 18-year-old Butler went on to pursue a solo career.  In 1991, the group was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

During her marriage, Butler once performed as a backup singer for her husband on the road and in the studio. She also played the piano and bass with a family group bearing her nickname, the Bunny Smith Trio.

According to the Sun Times, the couple met through Annette’s brother Earl Smith, a bass singer and friend of Jerry Butler.

A road trip enthusiast, Annette reportedly owned at least four conversion vans, which she’d use to drive her mother and siblings out west to visit relatives. A neighbor told the Sun Times that Annette also loved gardening. She reportedly participated in charitable events including the Mahalia Jackson Foundation fashion show, where she raised money for music and art scholarships.

Annette is survived by her husband, sons Randy and Anthony, sister Susan Hicks, brother Earl Smith, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

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