Dakota Datebook

Floyd Boutrous, Mr. Constitution

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

 

Floyd Boutrous, better known as ‘Mr. Constitution,’ passed away on this date a year ago. Boutrous participated in numerous business and social groups in Bismarck, but was most well-known for his strong sense of patriotism.

Born to Syrian immigrant parents in 1917, Boutrous was raised to believe that “an American was the luckiest person in the world.” Immigrating to North Dakota in the 1880s, his father worked as a traveling salesman. Eventually, the family moved to Bismarck and opened the Corner Grocery Store.

During World War II, Boutrous and his three brothers enlisted in the military. His father, however, asked the draft board to defer one son’s service, so he would have someone to help him run the store. With four sons from one family serving, the board selected Floyd to return home to help his father.

Floyd had attended the Minneapolis School of Business and the University of Colorado. And while he returned to work in the family store, he eventually ventured into real estate in the 1940s. In 1968, Floyd Boutrous opened his own real estate agency in the old grocery building.

Boutrous never took his citizenship or his country for granted, and wanted others to appreciate the country and its democracy. In the 1950s, he became the Chairman of the North Dakota Crusade for Freedom, a group that reached out and disseminated information to communist-controlled countries. Boutrous also served on the board of Radio Free Europe, which “beamed western broadcasts to communist countries that made up the Iron Curtain.” He delivered a radio address to Berlin, and visited East Germany in 1954, and Munich in 1959. Encouraging local schoolchildren to write letters to children in East Berlin on Valentine’s Days, he had the letters carried over the Berlin Wall by balloon.

After the Cold War, Boutrous continued to support civic pride by promoting Constitution Week in North Dakota each September. He organized a distribution of the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution through state newspapers, and in classrooms. For his actions, he earned the nickname ‘Mr. Constitution.’ He also served in the Republican Heritage Group, a children’s leukemia aid group, the Bismarck Masons, and the Attiyeh Society, a Lebanese family and cultural organization. North Dakota lost a valued patriot when Boutrous passed away last year at the age of ninety-three.

Dakota Datebook written by Jayme L. Job

Sources:

The Bismarck Tribune, ‘Mr. Constitution’ Floyd Boutrous dies at 93. Tuesday, March 2, 2010. (http://www.bismarcktribune.com/news/local/article_e6b4ef96-2686-11df- a07b-001cc4c03286.html)

The Bismarck Tribune, Obituaries: Floyd Boutrous. Wednesday, March 3, 2010. (http://www.bismarcktribune.com/lifestyles/announcements/obituaries/article_678 99a1c-2651-11df-a959-001cc4c03286.html)

The Bismarck Tribune, Mr. Constitution Turns 90. Monday, January 29, 2007. (http://www.bismarcktribune.com/news/local/article_8009ac15-caba-5023-997c- 1c2ee0efa5ef.html)

http://www.ndcourts.com/court/news/const08/photos.htm

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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