Blount County Public Library draws Charlie to Maryville
by Staff Writer Mary Rahner
When most people retire, they think of traveling, visiting friends and family, taking it easy. After retiring in 1980, Charlie Butera did not take it easy. For 24 years, he and his wife, Merle Ann, worked as volunteers and reservists with the American Red Cross Disaster Relief. They traveled all over the country working in shelter operations, coordinating with FEMA, helping in areas hit by fire, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes. Charlie directed operations at disaster relief sites for the American Red Cross. He left this position in 2004.
Before retiring Charlie worked in Washington, DC for the U.S. Treasury Department as a Special Agent in charge of foreign investigations and liaison in U.S. Customs services. His job involved helping to prevent the smuggling of drugs around the world. As a Special Agent, he was assigned to work with the Secret Service for presidential protection. He also served with the IRS in the Inspector General's office. Before working for the U.S. Treasury Department, Charlie attended the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
Charlie and Merle Ann moved to Maryville 15 years ago. They had intended to move to Pensacola, FL, but on a visit to Sweetwater, TN where Merle Ann is from, they changed their minds. During this visit, they took a side trip to Maryville and visited the newly opened library. The library is one of the primary reasons they decided to move to Maryville.
Charlie started volunteering at the Blount County Public Library (BCPL) about 13 years ago. He started his volunteer work with the Friends of the Library at book sales. About 10 years ago, he also began working with the Community Food Connection where he brings books donated by Friends of the Library for clients. Two times a month, Charlie brings books that might help the clients such as books on dietary needs or cookbooks. In addition to providing books at the Community Food Connection, Charlie picks up food from Second Harvest's warehouse and transports the food to the Food Connection for clients. The Community Food Connection provides food for people in need at their facility at 311 Whitecrest Drive. They also take food to home bound senior citizens in a senior apartment near the Greenbelt.
Charlie also participates in Jail Birds for Friends of the Library. Two person teams take books donated by the BCPL to Blount County Correctional Facility's library for inmates every week.
Books about the Civil War, World War II and other war period books are Charlie's favorites. He is a World War II Navy veteran. After college where he participated in ROTC, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve. He retired after 29 years as a Bird Colonel.
A recent hip replacement and age do not stop Charlie. He will be 90 years old February 11, 2018.