If you are part of the Elvis community, you understand how special the relationships are within that community. If you aren’t lucky enough to be a part of that world; then there’s really no way for me to explain the closeness and strong ties that run deep but I will try. This is a short story of my friend Carol Butler who passed away yesterday.In 1981, I began what was to become a yearly trek to Memphis exhibiting my Elvis artwork. Friendships I made that first year and since are still an important part of my life.
For the past few years, I have experienced the loss of several long time Elvis friends. This has made me think that perhaps I should “post” on Facebook that anyone who has been a longtime friend, might, want to rethink and perhaps “de-friend” me for their own health.
Carol Butler who came to Graceland eighteen years ago to serve as Director of Worldwide Licensing was the best choice of anyone who could have been place in the position. Today, not only did I lose a special friend but so did the Elvis Community.
My relationship with Carol started on a “rocky road” but that soon smoothed out as I watched her take hold of her job at EPE with a great respect and determination to do a good job for the company and for the fans. She understood the delicate relationship that existed between the two and worked hard to see that all parties were held in the highest regard. Several times she commented that she thought the fans hated her, but I knew better. Like me, they watched her TCB for Elvis only in his best interest and with that came a great respect from the fans for her and the job she did. She was a special lady and a good friend to us all.
Numerous times through the years, I heard her relate the story of our first meeting and how badly it went. Only on the job no more than a week and learning the ropes, Carol was told to hand out “cease and desist” letters to all vendors during her first Elvis Week. Upon returning to her office later that afternoon, she proudly exclaimed to Jack Soden how she performed her task and to whom she handed papers, my name was one of the vendors. She was horrified to find that giving me one of these letters was a mistake and resulted in an immediate meeting. Carol was so upset about the incident she never let me forget how badly she felt about it.
Sending Carol artwork over the years for approval for use by the licensees, I always trusted her judgment. I never questioned any comment or objection she might register toward a piece of art. If she did not like something for whatever reason, I immediately set out to improve the artwork because I trusted her insight.
It is those of us left behind who suffer; friends, family, for someone very special is gone from our daily life. Carol fought a courageous and vigorous battle with cancer. I know that was a difficult journey for her, but now that journey is done and she is suffering no more. For that I am thankful, she is at peace.
Thank you Carol for sharing your life with us.