HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Midstate native Mark Butler was the last surviving founder of Ollie’s Bargain Outlet. The multi-billion dollar company is based in the state capital but has stores across half the country.
Mark passed away Sunday while spending the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with his family.
Butler founded the first Ollie’s Bargain Outlet in Mechanicsburg, which rang its first sale in 1982. He eventually became CEO, growing the company to 345 stores in 25 states.
“I lost a friend first and foremost. He was much more than a boss to me,” said Kevin Kulp, president of the Harrisburg Senators.
Butler wasn’t just the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. He owned the Harrisburg Senators, making the team a priority too.
“I was always amazed at the amount of time he was able to spend with us and the amount of times he would randomly call me to talk about Senators business,” Kulp said.
Business leaders looked to him as a model, in and out of the office.
“He was a very focused guy, very driven, but he also did a lot for the community. I look particularly to the Boys and Girls Club,” said David Black, President, and CEO of Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC.
Along with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, he helped build a baseball field at the Boys and Girls Club of Harrisburg.
“He knew that by touching the youth he was truly touching our future and he would do anything for our young people,” said Yvonne Hollins, former executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Harrisburg.
“He has been donating these parks throughout Pennsylvania and throughout the country, so his advocacy for children goes beyond just his reach,” said Mark Hawthorne, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Harrisburg.
Cal Ripken Jr. released a statement: “Mark was a dear friend, a mentor and so much more. He cared deeply about his community and brought passion and caring to everything he did. The entire team at the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation is devastated by the news of his passing and our thoughts are with his family and those closest to him. His contributions to so many causes, including ours, will be a significant part of his enduring legacy. To say that Mark will be dearly missed doesn’t nearly capture the magnitude that his life has had on so many.”
Butler will be remembered for his giving spirit and passion to inspire others.
“Today will be sad. That’s what today’s about,” Kulp said. “Tomorrow’s about us getting back to business and working on creating the best 2020 season we can for our fans. That’s what he would have wanted and that’s what we’re going to do.”
“We love Mark Butler. He is family,” Hollins said.
“Mark Butler was an exceptional pillar of the community, and he will be missed by all those who knew him,” said Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse. “His tremendous work with our youth and countless hours of service is inspiring. I extend my heartfelt condolences to Mark’s entire family.”
Since the news of Butler’s death, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet stock has dropped almost 10 percent and named its former executive vice president and COO as its interim president and CEO.