Ernest Louis Buttross

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 16, 2011

Aug. 7, 1922 – Dec. 13, 2011

CANTON — A funeral Mass for Ernest Louis Buttross, 89, of Canton, who died Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011, at his home on Center Street in Canton, will be concelebrated at 2 p.m. Saturday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton where he was a faithful communicant.

Burial will follow at Canton Cemetery under the direction of Breeland Funeral Home in Canton.

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Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. today at the funeral home, with a Rosary at 7 p.m., and from 1 p.m. until service time Saturday at the church.

Mr. Buttross was a dedicated family man as well as a successful businessman and pillar of the community. He continued his service throughout his life. Earlier this year, the Canton Chamber of Commerce-Mainstreet honored him for his outstanding service to the community on the 100th anniversary of Buttross Department Store, which was founded by his father, David Buttross.

Ernest practiced a healthy lifestyle, seen routinely walking briskly on the square and, up until recently, swimming laps three times a week at the Madison County Healthplex. In August, he had just completed 58 years of perfect attendance as a member of the Canton Rotary Club.

Ernest Louis Buttross was born Aug. 7, 1922, in New Orleans. He attended the Sacred Heart Catholic School until its closing. He went to Canton Public School from the fourth grade through the 11th, finishing his high school career with honors at St. Stanislaus College in Bay St. Louis.

As an 18-year-old freshman member of the famous Maroon Band at Mississippi State University, he made the long train trip to Miami, where the State football team won the Orange Bowl played on Jan. 1, 1941. He also served as sports editor of the campus newspaper, The Reflector, while at State.

Earning his degree in three years, he passed up Advanced Army ROTC so that he could join the Navy. He rose to chief petty officer by the time of his discharge in 1946. His ship, the USS Arneb, was an amphibious cargo attack ship and while a crew member, Ernest took part in a dozen landings on Japanese-held islands in the South Pacific.

Ernest then passed up a naval commission so that he could return home and run the family business with his father and brothers. At one time during the war, all six of the Buttross brothers were in the armed forces.

On Sept. 27, 1947, Ernest and Mariam Boustany were married in Lafayette, La., and over the years he became the proud father of eight children. After their marriage, his bride joined Ernest and his brother, Edward, as owners of Buttross Department Store, working side by side for a number of years. This year, he and Mariam marked their 64th year of working in the store together.

As a member of the Canton Municipal Utilities (CMU) Board for 60 years and its chairman for 37 of those years, Ernest was instrumental in making it into an organization which kept Canton’s infrastructure on a positive course. In addition, he was president of the Canton/Madison County Chamber of Commerce, president of the Canton Chamber, president of the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District, District Commander of the VFW, board of directors of First Federal Saving and Loan, president of Madison County Industrial Commission, president of Sacred Heart Church Parish Council and chairman of the Central Mississippi Chapter of the American Red Cross, as well as a member of The Clara Barton Society.

Ernest was chairman and one of the founders of Municipal Energy Agency of Mississippi (MEAM) and Municipal Gas Authority of Mississippi (MGAM). He was also one of the founders of Catholic Foundation of Mississippi and had served as chairman. He was twice president of the Canton Rotary Club and he was a lifetime member of the Mississippi State University Alumni Association and an avid Bulldog fan.

Other honors include Canton’s Man of the Year and Rotary Paul Harris fellow. As a member of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, he achieved the highest rank as Knight of the Grand Cross.

Ernest passed on to his children the love of his Lebanese heritage and shared the wisdom and work ethic imparted by his immigrant parents. He was very active in the Cedars of Lebanon Club of Jackson, and he often attended conventions with his wife and family across the Southern Federation.

Predeceasing Mr. Buttross were his parents, David and Freada Saab Buttross; his bother, Edward; his brother and sister-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Buttross (Yvonne Boustany); two sisters-in-law, Mrs. Peter Buttross (Waddad Habeeb) and Mrs. Alphonse Buttross (Helen Karre); and one brother-in-law, Travis Payne.

Surviving Mr. Buttross is the love of his life and wife of 64 years, Mariam Boustany Buttross; eight devoted children, Miriam Buttross Koury and husband, Peter, Dr. Susan Buttross Riddell and husband, Robert, and Martha Buttross-Dinkha, all of Canton, Ernest L. Buttross Jr. and Alice Baker, of Edmond, Okla., Dr. John B. Buttross and Paula Joseph and Becky Buttross Kraker and husband, Wes, all of Memphis, Tenn., Annette Buttross Minninger and husband, Jim, of Rock Hill, S.C., and Cindy Buttross Mansour and husband, Abe, of Plano, Texas; 24 grandchildren, Jennifer Johnson Hurless, Richard Johnson, Gina Koury Jackson, Joseph Koury, Scott Buttross, Kevin Buttross, Robin Riddell, Erin Abston Kice, Dr. Sarah Abston Sterling, Dr. Timothy Abston, Charles Riddell, Frederick Dinkha, Mary Kathryn Buttross Mallick, Lindsay Buttross, John B. Buttross Jr., Koury Minninger, Anja Minninger, Mariam Mansour, Abe Mansour Jr., Sid Kraker, Elaine Kraker, Hannah Kraker, Marie Kraker and Wesley Kraker Jr.; and 10 great-grandchildren, Rebekah and Ryan Jackson, Zoe Koury, Aubrey, Preston and Joshua Hurless, Delaney and Carson Johnson, Coen Kice and Sela Sterling; five cherished siblings, Alphonse and Peter, both of Natchez, Dr. David Buttross and Joyce Abraham, of Lake Charles, La., Martha Buttross Feaheny and husband, Bill, of Kenner, La., and Frances Buttross Payne of Atlanta; and a number of cousins, nieces and nephews.

Ernest devoted his entire life to God, his family and service to his fellow man. He will be missed by the number of people whose lives he touched.

Memorial contributions may be made to: Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital, 2500 N. State St., Jackson, MS 39216; Catholic Charities, 200 N. Congress St., Suite 100, Jackson, MS 39201; and Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 238 E. Center St., Canton, MS 39046.