Retired economics prof was a lifelong peace activist

John Buttrick, a retired York economics professor, died July 16 in a car accident on Gabriola Island, BC. He was 88.

Buttrick joined York’s faculty in 1970 after several years as Chair and professor of economics at the University of Minnesota. At York, he was director of the Graduate Program in Economics during its formative years. He was interested in political economics and was associated with York’s Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean.

In Toronto, Buttrick worked as a consultant for many years with the Ontario Economic Council, focusing on such social issues as inner city educational inequities and the out-migration of skilled workers.

One of seven faculty members forced to retire at 65, Buttrick, with his colleagues, launched a legal battle to fight the decision.

After his retirement from York in 1989, Buttrick and his wife Ann moved to Jamaica where he was involved in research for the Jamaican government and other Latin American countries for several years. Actively engaged in works for development with social justice, he had a special interest in the Caribbean economy, was fiscal and statistical adviser to the Jamaican government and a teacher at the Jamaican technical university.

He was a fearless and long-time fighter for peace, a conscientious objector in the Second World War, and actively helped a large number of refugees from the Vietnam draft and more recently deserters from the US military service in Iraq.

The Buttricks recently moved to Gabriola Island, a well known retirement community for intellectuals and artists. The two were active in the peace movement, and concerned in particular about the treatment of political refugees. He was also active various civic works and the fight against discrimination of any type.

Family and friends celebrated Buttrick at a memorial Friday on Gabriola Island.