Friends of Fabyan dedicate Geneva sundial

Friends of Fabyan dedicated the Fabyan sundial in the center of the rose arbor at Fabyan Forest Preserve May 17 to John Marshall Butler.

Butler grew up on the Fabyan estate, called Riverbank, where his mother, Pearl, was cook for the facilities on the west side of Route 31, including the Workmen's Grille, where she served three meals a day for 15-25 workers who mainly resided on the estate. She also cooked for dignitaries at the Fabyan Lodge and Engledew Cottage.

The sundial was placed on the original Fabyan pedestal constructed in 1909, and it is a replica of the original, which was octagonal.

The event was highlighted by tributes from Butler's two sons, Jack and David Butler; a nephew, Alan Soderstrom; granddaughter, Merry Susan Rubin; Darlene Larson, co-president of Friends of Fabyan; and additional tributes from the audience.

A plaque was placed below the pedestal, which reads: "This sundial is dedicated in memory of John M. Butler, who grew up on the Fabyan estate. His mother, Pearl, was cook at the Lodge, Workmen's Grille and Engledew Cottage. Both John and his sister, Leah, felt privileged to live here. He was a source of invaluable historical information regarding the Fabyan estate, providing interpretive details and contributing to the development of historic publications."

Butler was greatly respected by the Friends of Fabyan for all the accurate historical information he provided so the estate could be interpreted at the Villa Museum, history walks, along with the people and workers he knew. He was a primary source of information for the Fabyan chapter written by Darlene Larson for the book "Geneva, Illinois: A History of its Times and Places" in 1977.

His memory was accurate to the end. He died in 2003 at the age of 97. He was called "a walking encyclopedia."

Friends of Fabyan was presented with two discs of his life compiled by his grandson, Jeff Butler of Washington.

Honorary memberships were presented by Friends of Fabyan to his two surviving sons, Jack and David, and nephews Alan, Ernest, Kenneth, Paul and Richard Soderstrom.

The program was enhanced by bluegrass banjo music, a favorite of Butler's, provided by Tom Schiltz of St. Charles, who performs at many area festivals.

David and Jack Butler, sons of John Marshall Butler, attend a dedication ceremony for a sundial in their father's memory at Fabyan Museum in Geneva. Courtesy of Friends of Fabyan
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