By Steve Sears—
Tarrytown resident Glenn Butler recently published his first memoir, Bending Atmospheres – A Journey from Inner to Outer Space. “I’ve written a lot of things over the years, but it’s always been technical stuff for a limited audience,” Butler said with a laugh. “It’s a real treat, and I’m actually so glad that I met W.B. King. We’ve been able to work so well together.”
King, also a Tarrytown resident, is an award-winning journalist and an author of quite a few books. “I have had the pleasure of writing many books on many subjects, which has provided countless learning experiences. While every book project is unique, Glenn’s stood out for a few reasons. I usually have to travel for these book projects, so walking to his house to work was a nice break and allowed us to work faster,” King said.
“But as is the case with all book projects, the content and author are the most important aspects. Glenn is an amazingly humble man who has achieved significant success in his chosen scientific fields — from under water to space, and beyond. From a personal and professional perspective, his journey that is recounted in this book – from childhood to where he is today – is touching, funny, inspirational, and underscores the importance of mentorship,” he added.
Butler, 70, explained what prompted him to write a book.
“I’ve worked offshore for many years, and then I had to maintain a journal for legal reasons, so that became sort of a way of documenting. The story sort of came out of that, and the book I was writing forever,” he said.
Butler formerly worked for Ocean Systems Environmental Physiology Laboratory at the Tarrytown Union Carbide campus.
“And that’s where I got started, and one of the senior guys and one of my dearest friends and mentors, Bill Hamilton, died, and I realized that all the special things we’d done in Union Carbide Ocean Systems would be lost, and there really wouldn’t be a story about it,” he said. “I decided to go back and write about all the people in first person. I had to write about all of the old people I met along the way, and to talk about mentorship and about how the fact that everyone really stands on the shoulders of the people around them.”
The book is dedicated to both Hamilton and Butler’s granddaughter. “Some of my most stimulating conversations have been with my granddaughter,” Butler said proudly.
In addition to focusing on the “Access Series” dives, all-important diving experiments with new gas mixtures and procedures at the Union Carbide location, along with the folks who took part, Butler also digs back into his childhood, talking about being placed in Florida’s Ottilie Home for Children, being mentored at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in ship fitting and welding techniques, and being a volunteer medic at Woodstock.
“It was an amazing, pleasant, positive experience,” he recalled of the four-day, 1969 music festival in Bethel, New York. “I’ve never seen that many people in such close quarters under such adverse conditions and being so kind to each other.”
Butler has also worked on Calypso, the famous boat of famed sea explorer Jacques Cousteau, and was also consulted on NASA Hubble Space Telescope repairs.
There’s all of the above and much more between the covers of Bending Atmospheres – A Journey from Inner to Outer Space, and King is thankful Butler’s story wasn’t lost over time.
“I had the privilege of helping him bring his tale to the page and I only hope readers enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it with Glenn,” King said. “But Glenn’s story is not over by a longshot. The work he continues to do with advanced wound care/hyperbaric medicine and related initiatives is impressive.”
“I have been absolutely blessed by people around me,” Butler said, “And I have become whatever that is due to the exposure of the people around me, and they are unique people. I try to be a mentor as well, especially to kids, I enjoy making new friends and doing new things, and I always will.”
Bending Atmospheres – A Journey from Inner to Outer Space is available online Amazon, iUniverse, and Barnes & Noble.