Trailblazer With a Big Heart Makes a Lasting Impression at Scripps

Patricia Butler was always a leader — and still is. With a long list of accolades and accomplishments in her career, and in philanthropy, she continues to give to help others.

Pat was the only female law student among 40 men in her 1931 graduating class at Emory University of Law, Atlanta. Then, not being able to find a job as an attorney in the genteel south, she was recruited to be the first female attorney to work in the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. She retired after 40 years with the department, having worked for 16 U.S. attorneys general, with such notable as Robert Kennedy and Elliot Richardson. Little did she know then that her most passionate work was about to begin.

After moving to San Diego in the early 1970s, her husband, Bill, who was from San Diego and active in the community, suggested she get involved. She told him that she had come out West to get away from the hustle and bustle of Washington D.C. That soon changed, and her involvement with Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla has continued to flourish ever since.

As a member of the community advisory board, Bill had been the deciding voter to move the original Scripps Memorial Hospital in downtown La Jolla to its present location in the early 1960s, inspiring Pat to take on worthwhile projects. After being instrumental in research eye centers in major U.S. cities, she and Bill helped establish what is now the Scripps Mericos Eye Institute. She also helped build the Scripps Polster Breast Care Center and create the hospital’s community advisory board, just to name a few noteworthy accomplishments. More than 30 years later, she is still involved with Scripps La Jolla.

“In all I do here, it’s in memory of Bill. His heart was here,” says Pat, who will turn 100 on December 23. “The satisfaction of helping others has been uplifting and I’m thankful for that.”