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Athlete's sports legacy benefits family, community

| Saturday, July 13, 2013, 12:12 p.m.
Thomas K. Butler, 83, of North Huntingdon, passed away Tuesday, July 11, 2013, in Briarcliff Pavilion.

Thomas Butler passed on his love of sports to his children and grandchildren.

“Sports were his passion,” said his son Timothy Butler.

Thomas K. Butler, 83, of North Huntingdon died Thursday, July 11, 2013, in Briarcliff Pavilion.

He was born in Irwin and grew up near the playground, where he often spent time playing basketball with his friends.

As a starting guard, he played basketball for the former Irwin High School team and was proud to be a member of Pennsylvania state basketball championship teams in 1947 and 1948. Mr. Butler and the team were inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame.

Timothy Butler fondly remembers his father's participation in everything he and his brother did — “just always being there,” he said.

“He was always there for us,” said his brother Darryl Butler.

Mr. Butler was dedicated to assuring that young people had an opportunity to play sports. He was instrumental in the addition of the basketball court to First United Methodist Church in Irwin, where he served as an usher and member of the board of trustees. He was a basketball coach in the NCAA for many years.

Mr. Butler and his wife helped to organize the Norwin recreational swim team and the first soccer team for Norwin High School as a club sport.

“He did a lot for the Irwin-Norwin community,” Darryl Butler said. “He was born and raised there.”

Mr. Butler served on the Norwin school board in the 1970s. As a member of the Norwin Recreation Board, he helped to organize the First Night Celebration in Irwin.

Mr. Butler, who served in the Army in postwar Germany, was a longtime member of the Manor American Legion. He was retired from Robertshaw Controls Co. and enjoyed watching his grandchildren carry on the family sport legacy.

“He was very well-known,” Timothy Butler said. “It was amazing. Wherever you went, he knew everybody.”

Mr. Butler was preceded in death by his wife, Lorraine “Renie” Butler, in 1998. He is survived by his sons, Timothy T. Butler of Hempfield and Darryl R. Butler and wife, Karen, of North Huntingdon, and four grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday in William Snyder Funeral Home, 521 Main St., Irwin. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday. Interment will be in Penn Lincoln Memorial Park.

Kate Wilcox is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or kwilcox@tribweb.com.

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