Robert "Tom" Butterfield
Robert "Tom" Butterfield, Raytown High School, Class of 1958
Robert Thomas “Tom” Butterfield, who passed away in 1982, was a 1958 graduate of Raytown High School and will be posthumously inducted into the Raytown Schools Alumni Hall of Fame with the Class of 2008.
A Reader’s Digest article about Tom Butterfield quotes his basic credo: “All a child needs is someone to love and be loved by.” Tom was the first single foster parent in the state of Missouri, and over the course of the next several years, Tom became a foster parent to many struggling youth. Others had been taken from their families because of abuse. Tom spent many years raising money by addressing clubs, churches and schools, and he sent letter upon letter to strangers. Eventually, money started to come in, and with sweat equity, Tom, the boys, and a number of volunteers shaped up his place in the country to become Butterfield Boys Ranch, and in 1977, the last of the renovations on residences was complete.
In December 1981 CBS television aired the Warner Brothers movie, “The Children Nobody Wanted” about Tom’s efforts to great acclaim.
Tom graduated in 1963 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology and Education from Missouri Valley College, earned a Masters of Science in Social Work from the University of Missouri and was certified by the Academy of Certified Social Workers. His life’s work was providing alternatives for abused, neglected and emotionally troubled children.
Among Tom’s awards are membership in the Missouri Valley College Athletic Hall of Fame, a special award from the University of Missouri for outstanding dedication to Social Work, and four Presidential citations from John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. Additionally, President Bill Clinton gave Tom a posthumous award for service to mankind.
To this day, the mission of Butterfield Youth Services is to, “provide high quality out-of- home care and treatment for severely emotionally disturbed children and adolescents, and to provide or coordinate through networking with others a range of in-home services for severely emotionally disturbed children and adolescents who are at risk of removal from their homes”.