State finance director retiring after possible ALS diagnosis

State finance director retiring after possible ALS diagnosis

State Finance Director Kelly Butler is retiring Aug. 1 because of medical complications that might be caused by Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced Wednesday.

Butler’s physician said his early symptoms point to a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and he will undergo more tests, Ivey’s office stated. The progressive disease attacks nerve cells controlling muscles throughout the body.

“Without exception, Kelly Butler has been the finest finance director to have ever served the State of Alabama,” Ivey said in a statement announcing Butler’s retirement.

“He is the epitome of a dedicated public servant; he is as honest and hard working as he is good and decent. The people of Alabama owe Kelly a profound debt of gratitude for his extraordinary example of what a true servant leader is and should be.”

The state finance director is a member of the governor’s Cabinet and the state’s chief financial officer. The finance director advises the governor and the legislators on budget and financial matters and oversees the Department of Finance.

Although some governors have appointed political allies to the post, Butler had worked his way through the ranks during 36 years with the state. He started as a revenue examiner with the Alabama Department of Revenue and then worked for the Legislative Fiscal Office. Butler served as acting finance director, assistant finance director and state budget officer before being named finance director in 2018.

Butler called being finance director the honor of a lifetime.

“While this was not the news anyone would hope for, I take comfort in my faith and am grateful for the support I know Beverly, my family and I will receive going forward from so many friends, colleagues, and relatives,” Butler said. “Looking ahead, I’m going to do everything humanly possible to help the doctors and researchers find a cure for ALS so that one day this becomes a disease that people talk about in the past.”

Among the disease’s best-known victims was Gehrig, the New York Yankees’ Hall of Fame first baseman who died in 1941.