Decima May Knight Mini tree diagram


Bob Button

1915 - 2008

Life History


Born in Englewood, New Jersey, U.S..


Married Decima May Knight in England.


Death Notice at

"Robert Easton Button, 93, of Old Greenwich, CT, passed away on Saturday, August 9, 2008, with his wife Decima of 62 years at his side.

He was the son of John Conyers Button and Olive Lyle Demarest of Englewood, NJ.
Bob was an insightful, caring, and motivational leader, with a proclivity for poetry, humor and irony. He was devoted to human values, social responsibility and thoughtful expression.

Bob Button began his career in communications, music and writing at Dartmouth College (Class of '36 - see below), where he was a member of the Casque and Gauntlet Honor Society. He went to work for NBC and obtained a law degree in 1939. He was a military intelligence officer in WWII and served on General Bradley's G-2 staff and General Eisenhower's Special Forces staff in Europe. He emerged from the military as a Colonel, having earned 2 Bronze Stars and 6 Battle Stars; and he was one of the first Americans to work on the Enigma code-breaking project at Bletchley Park, England.

After the war he returned to NBC where he pioneered the early programming and sales of television. In 1954 he left NBC to join the Defense Office of Special Operations and later served as Director of the Voice of America. He was a USIS Foreign Service Officer in NATO-Paris (1958-64), Executive consultant at COMSAT Corp (1965-1973), and Satellite Director at Teleprompter Corp. (1973-1975). He was cofounder and President of TransCommunications, Inc. in Greenwich (1975-1993) where he cofounded Cablevision of Connecticut.

His memberships included the Lions, Masons, Reserve Officers Association, American Legion, University Club, Old Greenwich Yacht Club, High Arctic Explorers Club, Broadcast Pioneers, and Playmakers of Connecticut.

He led a 17 piece swing band, known throughout the area as the Bob Button Orchestra, and he directed a 24 voice retired men's chorus (The Melody Men) and a ladies sextet (Button and Bows, and the Decibelles).

In 1999, he was named Community Leader of the Year in Greenwich.
A founding trustee of the American College of Paris, he taught continuing education courses at Columbia University, U Conn, and U Virginia.
He was a regular contributor to the Op-Ed pages of the Greenwich Time, and in 2004 he published his memoir Enigma in Many Keys, for which he received the Mark Twain Award from the Connecticut Press Club (2006).
Bob also received the SE CT Volunteer Organization 'Lifetime Achievement Award' in 2007.

Bob Button is survived by his English wife, Decima; his daughters Marilyn Button and Phyllis Whitten and her husband Richard; and five grandchildren: Diana, Christina, and Carolyn Whitten, and Alec and Brett Phillips. He is predeceased by his brothers, John and Donald, his sister Anne, and his daughter Allyson Button Phillips."


based on an 'untitled document at South Orange and Maplewood Public Schools (A biography written by Ziv Kennan, a student in Mr. Robinson's A.P. History Class.)

Robert E Button was born in 1915 and attended Columbia High School, in Maplewood, New Jersey. At Columbia, he excelled .. he ran track for three years .. was a member of the Parnassian Society, Traffic Committee, and Eligibility Committee .. Chairman of the junior Assembly and President of the senior class. He graduated in 1932.

Button attended Dartmouth, and graduated in 1936. Since then he has donated to the college every single year. (Over 60 years of donations.)
Button went on to Brooklyn Law School.
His first industry job was with NBC. Which he joined in 1940. .. his work there has been regarded as critical to the development of modern television and cable distribution systems. He worked at NBC on and off for the next 15 years.

In 1941, Bob was the first NBC employee to be drafted. During World War Two, Bob served in England (Where he met his wife, Decima,) Germany, and France. He attained the rank of Colonel, and was awarded two bronze stars. He played an important role in the decryption of Avis intelligence messages. Button’s time serving in the military was full of surprises, including a booby-trapped piano which, thankfully, he managed to survive. The military also gave Button a chance to play piano, which he has been doing since the age of five. Button has written a book titled Enigma in Many Keys about his military experiences; the book was published in 2004.

After World War Two, Button became involved with Voice of America .. He was director of that organization from 1956-1958. .. Button then moved to Paris to work for USIS; where he helped to found the American College in Paris.

From 1965 onwards Bob was involved in the development of the United States’ television infrastructure.
until the mid 1990’s Button was involved with COMSAT, teleprompter Corp, and American Trans Communications (where he was president). During this period he created the first domestic cable network.

In 1994 Button took a trip to Nepal in order to aid the government there in setting up a cable system.

He has also traveled to the magnetic north pole, an experience he found spiritually satisfying.

Button’s family includes not only his wife, singer Decima Knight Button, but also daughters Phyllis and Dr. Marilyn Button. Dr. Marilyn Button is the professor and Chair of the Department of English and Mass Communications at Lincoln University, PA.

2004 saw publication of his autobiography, Enigma in Many Keys, which includes the letters he wrote to his parents while in the army, chronicling his work Bletchley Park

From the Foreword of 'Enigma in Many Keys' [Source]


Excerpts from 'Enigma in Many Keys' - Bletchley Park and Robert's Career




Dartmouth College (Class of '36)

Dartmouth College (Class of '36)