Arthur David “Butch” Rhea, age 72, owner of The Fayette Falcon, resident of Somerville, and husband of Carolyn Griffin Rhea, died Friday, February 7, 2020, from complications of Parkinson’s.
Butch was born December 23, 1947, the son of Author and Edna Walls Rhea of Moscow, Tennessee. He attended local schools and was a 1965 graduate of Fayette County High School. He was married July 7, 1969, to the former Carolyn Griffin.
Butch started working at The Fayette Falcon in 1965. There were no computers then so copy was set with a linotype and hot metal. Ads and copy were put together by cut and paste. Butch also did job printing and The Falcon printed stationery and envelopes for the banks, county offices and businesses. Butch was also the photographer and attended city and county meetings and school sports.
He served in the Army from 1968 to 1970 with one year of that time in Vietnam and that was the only time he was away from the newspaper. He served a total of almost 55 years at the newspaper.
Butch was often called on by state troopers to take photos of vehicle crashes, most times in the middle of the night. This was before the time of digital cameras. They depended on him developing the photos for their records or trials, etc. He also was called to moonshine stills found by county deputies to photograph before they were destroyed.
He served as a Reserve Captain in the Town of Oakland Police Department for 11 years, was active in the NRA, serving on the Friends of NRA committee and helping with fundraising banquets for several years. He was also an avid supporter of Fayette County Animal Rescue.
Butch was honored in 2016 by Tennessee Press Association for induction into the 50-Year Club, for those working in the newspaper industry 50 years or more.
Butch is survived by his wife of 50½ years, Carolyn Rhea, two sons, Randy Alan Rhea of Somerville, and Ryan (Claudia) Rhea of Collierville. He also leaves his beloved cats, Sissy, Sam, Rosie, Scooter, Precious, and Daisy.
Funeral services for Butch were Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 2 P.M. at Peebles West Funeral Chapel at Oakland. Remarks were given by Vip Lewis and Mike Webb. Interment with Military Honors followed in the Somerville City Cemetery.
Those honored to serve as pallbearers were Mike Webb, Larry Gaines, Stan Trahan, Sam Aljundi, John McFarland, Mark Kee, Randy Warren and Mike LaBudde.
The family requests that memorials be directed to Fayette County Animal Rescue, P.O. Box 44, Rossville, TN 38066.
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