South Harpswell—Charles J. Butt, 93, died peacefully Friday, September 14, 2018 surrounded by family at his home in South Harpswell.

Charlie was born in Shanghai, China, May 19, 1925, the son of Joseph P. and Lindamira Martins Butt. During his early years in China, the political landscape was extremely volatile.  In spite of it all, he focused and thrived on the athletic opportunities afforded by the Foreign YMCA of Shanghai, and in his own words, he spent hours each day “running, jumping, swimming, leaping, dancing, boxing, throwing, laughing and having a great time”.  Charlie’s “great time” also happened to result in a high record of achievement in swimming, basketball, cricket, track & field, handball, tennis, water polo, soccer, softball, bowling, and boxing.  He graduated from the Western District Public School in 1941 and studied at St. John’s University in Shanghai for two years, before the Japanese occupation shut down the university during World War II.

By any measure, Charlie had an extraordinary athletic career in China.  He was a member of the national basketball team and held Chinese national records in swimming for the 50-yard, 100-yard, and 100-meter freestyle. He qualified for the 1948 Olympic Games in London as a member of the basketball and swimming teams but was unable to attend when he refused to give up his Portuguese passport to a Chinese government increasingly controlled by the Communist Party. He left China in 1951 on a British cargo vessel to Hong Kong and then to Tokyo, where he obtained a visa to go to the US to attend Springfield College, where he had been admitted before the outbreak of the war.

During his days at Springfield College Charlie involved himself in various campus committees and continued his participation and love of sports.  Charlie was the Captain of the Varsity Swimming Team which brought Charlie in close and cherished contact with Charles (Red) Silvia, his swimming coach. Coach Silvia and his wife Ruth later sponsored Charlie when he was sworn in as a U.S. citizen. At Springfield, Charlie was an All-American soccer player in 1952 and 1953, captain of the swimming team, captain of the tennis team, and a member of the national championship volleyball team in his first year playing the sport. He graduated cum laude in 1953 and later earned an MS, also at Springfield. He coached swimming at Springfield for four years, and in recognition for his many achievements, he was inducted into to Springfield Athletic Hall of Fame in 1986.

In 1953, Charlie signed on as Aquatics Director at Piping Rock Club in Locust Valley, New York where he amazingly spent 57 summers teaching water safety, swimming, diving, and much more to generations of families. Before his 2010 retirement from PRC, the club named the pool in Charlie’s honor. He and his family cherished the time spent with the PRC and local communities that included the Friends Academy summer competitive swimming program.

In 1961, he joined Bowdoin College where he served as head coach for swimming and soccer.  He also coached women’s swimming since its inception in 1976.  In 1965, he married Patricia C. McCallum, now Brigit P. McCallum of North Waterboro, ME, and the couple raised 2 children, Charles Jr. (C2) and Catie, during their 13-year marriage and beyond.

Throughout his life and coaching endeavors, Charlie touched the lives of many athletes across a wide range of abilities.  He found ways to connect with each person and was an incredible example of a fair and caring person.  He was a successful coach, but more importantly he taught his athletes  that hard work pays off in sports, as it does in other pursuits, and it can be fun too. He taught them the values that really matter in life.

Charlie’s professional expertise and dedication to his profession has been recognized in the form of many honors and accolades, some of which include:  the National Collegiate and Scholastic Swimming Trophy in 1981; the New England Swimming Coaches Association coach of the year in ’76, ’82, ’88 and ‘90; the Richard E. Steadman Award from the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the College Swimming Coaches Association of America in 1994; the Joseph G. Rogers award for excellence in YMCA Competitive Swimming and Diving in 1998; induction into the Bowdoin College Athletic Hall of Honor in 2003; induction into the Maine Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame in 2010; and the coach’s room named in his honor in Bowdoin’s Greason Pool (a pool configuration he designed).

Additionally, Charlie was proud of his involvement at the national and global levels, and he dedicated significant energy to advancing his respective sports and the coaching profession in general. He authored several articles on soccer and swimming, was a member of the NCAA Swimming and Diving Rules Committee from ’61-’98 including 4 years as Chairman, traveled to manage the US Swimming Team during the ’77 World University Games in Sofia, Bulgaria, served as Chairman of the World University Games Committee in Romania and Mexico City’, was a multiyear member of the Olympic Swimming Committee, and he managed the World Swimming Team at the ‘01 Goodwill Games in Brisbane, Australia.

No account of Charlie’s athletic prowess and spirit would be complete without mentioning his extraordinary contributions to squash, a sport that he picked up in his forties, and for which he became widely regarded as a prominent ambassador across the international squash community. Charlie won 23 national championships (singles and doubles) and 1 world champion title. He was known for his quiet (even cat-like) footwork, distinctive finesse shots and ever present and familiar laugh throughout points well won and lost. In 2008, he was inducted into the Maine Sate Squash Hall of Fame. In 2011, Charlie received the US Master’s Achievement Award for his contributions to the sport. In 2017, the Bowdoin court at Portland Community Squash, in Portland, ME, was dedicated in his honor.

Charlie loved and treasured the past 25 years living, laughing, dancing and traveling with his partner Cynthia (Cindy) Osgood (and several dearly loved pets).  If you were lucky enough to spend an evening with them, you were happier for it (and probably gained a pound or two).

Charlie also treasured his many trips to spend time with his 3 beloved sisters who settled in Toronto, Canada. He was adored by his 10 Toronto-based nieces and nephews who, in their youth, delighted in adventures with their Uncle Charlie, including “testing” his many abilities by challenging him to fun-spirited activities that were not in his typical repertoire (e.g. pond ice hockey).

In the recent weeks and months, Charlie thoroughly enjoyed remaining active, playing golf, tennis, squash, enjoying good food and time spent with family and great friends. Memories of his warm smile, encouraging demeanor and love of life will be cherished by family, friends, former students, parents and fellow educators for years to come.

Charlie is survived by his partner of 25 years, Cynthia Osgood; a daughter, Cathleen Butt (Catie), and her husband, Brent Arvidson of Windham, Maine; a son, Charles J. Butt Jr. (C2), and his partner, Jennifer Hodges, of Seattle, Washington; four grandchildren, Dylan, Niko, Kai, and Jasper; his many nieces, nephews and extended family members of Toronto, Canada.

Friends and family may visit 5-7 PM Thursday, October 4, 2018 at the Bracket Funeral Home, 29 Federal Street, Brunswick, ME. A Celebration of Life will be held 11 AM Friday, October 5, 2018 at Farley Field House, Bowdoin College, Brunswick with a reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the Harpswell Community School Water Safety Program, 308 Harpswell Islands Rd, Harpswell, ME 04079; the Charlie Butt Scholarship fund, Portland Community Squash, 66 Noyes Street, Portland, ME 04103; or the Charles J. Butt Scholarship Fund, 4100 College Station, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME 04011. Memories and condolences can be shared at www.brackettfuneralhome.com.