By Jaime Ortiz-Patiño, President WBF
BM August 1985
One of the most distinguished figures in the history of bridge administration died at his London home on 13 June. He was 86.
Geoffrey Butler’s contribution to bridge was summed up in a citation by the WBF Executive Council when he was elected, together with Waldemar von Zedtwitz and Charles Solomon, to the Committee of Honour on its formation in 1972:
“... for devoting time, energies and talents to the furtherance of bridge without thought of self-aggrandisement.”
Geoffrey helped to form the British Bridge League in 1938 and was its Chairman from 1954 to 1966. For 27 years he served on the Executive of the European Bridge League, and for 22 on the WBF, formed in 1958 after he had prepared the ground in collaboration with Charles Solomon.
For 30 years he was active in Laws revision. He was Chairman of the Commission that prepared the new Duplicate Laws adopted in 1975. Other achievements included ‘Butler’ scoring and his work on the British Master Points scheme.
As a leading figure on the WBF Appeals Committee and for many years its Chairman he was inevitably involved in controversy but his impartiality was never questioned. The threatened break-up of the 1958 Bermuda Bowl, when an American pair accused an opposing team of cheating, was averted when both sides called in Butler to heal the breach.
Geoffrey was held in the highest esteem by his colleagues on the WBF Executive Council, most of whom had known him well for many years. He was universally regarded as the embodiment of the British sense of fair play, and his balanced outlook, as well as his knowledge of tournament procedure and the Laws, were invaluable to us in our work. In his last years he was able to attend our meetings less often, but his frequent correspondence with WBF headquarters was still governed by a keen mind. He remained President of the Congress and Chairman Emeritus of the Laws Committee until the end.
With Geoffrey’s passing, the world of bridge has lost one of its great figures and I personally, with many others, have lost a very dear friend.