Charles Thomas Butera was born in Bangor, Maine on May 6, 1923 to Carmella (Capascagno) and Lorenzo Butera. His parents were Sicilian immigrants who came to the United States in the early 1900s. Charlie grew up on Hancock Street in Bangor, attended John Bapst High School, and graduated from Bangor High School with the class of 1941. He enlisted in the Navy, and served from 1941 to 1945. When he returned from the service, he worked until he could buy an apartment building. When he was able to save a little more, he began operating a restaurant in Bangor. He eventually owned seventeen rental properties in the Bangor area. He became involved with the Democratic Party in Maine, and was a key organizer in the predominantly Republican Penobscot County of Maine. After fourteen years of activism, he became frustrated with party activities. Although remaining Democrat, he stopped his involvement in Maine party politics.
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Robitaille, Jeremy, "Butera, Charles oral history interview" (2001). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 60.