Eliot Andrew Butler was born on February 13, 1926, in Snowflake, Arizona. He served in the Army during World War II. After his military service, Butler studied chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, interrupting his education only to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Canadian Mission. There, he met his future wife, Ann Hughes, a fellow missionary. After their missions, they were married in Arizona on September 17, 1949. They had four children.
Butler earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1952 and a PhD in analytical chemistry in 1956, both from Caltech. He joined the chemistry department at BYU in 1956. While at BYU, he was at various times chairman of the chemistry department, dean of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, and associate academic vice president. BYU awarded him the Distinguished Pillar Award in 2010.
After retiring in 1991, Butler and his wife served three missions in the Philippines and one in New Jersey. They also spent a semester in China at Qingdao University teaching English. Butler’s hobbies included fine woodworking and photography. He passed away on January 19, 2012, in Provo, Utah.