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Mark Butler was a co-founder and CEO of Ollie's Bargain Outlet and was chairman of the board of directors of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.
Mark Butler was a co-founder and CEO of Ollie's Bargain Outlet and was chairman of the board of directors of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. (Photo by Karen Jackson, for The Baltimore Sun)

Mark Butler, the founder and CEO of Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and chairman of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, died unexpectedly Sunday at the age of 61, the company announced Monday morning.

Butler founded the bargain outlet chain with Mort Bernstein, Oliver “Ollie” Rosenberg and Harry Coverman, and opened the first store in Pennsylvania in 1982.

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Butler took over as CEO and president in 2003 and the franchise saw significant expansion during that time, becoming a public company in 2015 and opening its 300th location in November 2018 in Maryland. The company has 345 stores across 25 states.

The retail chain has locations throughout the Baltimore metropolitan region, including in Towson, Dundalk, Baltimore and Jessup.

Pictured with baseball gear for the Mosher baseball team are, from left, Steve Salem, president of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation; Eddie Murray, baseball Hall of Famer; Calvin Butler, CEO of BGE; Mayor-elect Catherine Pugh; Mark Butler, chairman of the board of directors for the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and CEO of Ollie's Bargain Outlet; baseball Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson; William Neal, president of James Mosher Baseball; and baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr.
Pictured with baseball gear for the Mosher baseball team are, from left, Steve Salem, president of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation; Eddie Murray, baseball Hall of Famer; Calvin Butler, CEO of BGE; Mayor-elect Catherine Pugh; Mark Butler, chairman of the board of directors for the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and CEO of Ollie's Bargain Outlet; baseball Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson; William Neal, president of James Mosher Baseball; and baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. (Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun)

John Swygert, a 15-year Ollie’s executive, was named as interim president and CEO by the board of directors.

Butler became the chairman of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation’s board of directors in 2014. He and his wife, Betty, funded the foundation’s 14th youth development park in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the prior year and Ollie’s has sponsored parks in Annapolis, Aberdeen and Baltimore City.

Speaking with The Morning Call, Richard Zannino, board member of Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Holdings Inc., said Butler “was an exceptional entrepreneur, merchant, leader, philanthropist, friend and family man.”

Butler was the last surviving founder of Ollie’s Bargain Outlet.

Mark Butler and his family funded Vi Ripken Field in Aberdeen.
Mark Butler and his family funded Vi Ripken Field in Aberdeen. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, The Aegis)
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