BRUNSWICK — Charlie Butt could do it all in the world of athletics.

Butt, coach emeritus at Bowdoin College, died Sept. 14 at the age of 93. He was a natural athlete who excelled in almost every sport he tried, from swimming and soccer to basketball and squash.

“He’s the most accomplished athlete I’ve ever seen or ever known,” said longtime friend John Moncure. “He could do anything he set his mind to.”

Butt was born in China to Portuguese parents, and went on to set national records in three swimming events. He qualified for the 1948 Olympic Games in swimming and as a member of the Chinese basketball team, but was unable to attend when he refused to surrender his Portuguese passport to an increasingly Communist-controlled government.

Butt left China in 1951 and would eventually find his way to Springfield College in Massachusetts. While at Springfield, he became a two-time All-American soccer player, a captain in swimming and tennis, and a national champion in volleyball, his first year playing the sport.

Bowdoin hired Butt as varsity swimming and soccer coach in 1961. Moncure started to coach wrestling at the school after training with the team while he was in the Navy. He and Butt bonded over many squash games. Moncure remembers waiting for Butt’s arrival at afternoon doubles games.

“Charlie was always late,” Moncure said, laughing. “He’d swing his racket twice and say, ‘I’m ready, let’s play.’ ”

Like most sports Butt played, squash came naturally. He picked up the sport in his 40s and went on to win 22 national titles and one world title in his age bracket.

Butt earned a number of accolades while coaching at Bowdoin. His record of 120 career wins coaching men’s soccer still stands. Moncure described Butt as someone who had the ability to coach gently while also maintaining a discipline on his teams. The kids who Butt coached loved him, according to Moncure.

The New England Swimming Coaches Association named Butt coach of the year in 1988 and men’s coach of the year in 1989.

“The proof was in the pudding,” said Moncure. “He was respected by the people he coached and by his peers.”

Butt left a legacy that still reverberates at Bowdoin. The coaches’ room at the Greason Pool, a building that he helped design, is named in his honor. A scholarship fund was established in his name after his retirement in 2000. Butt was inducted into the Bowdoin Athletic Hall of Honor in 2003.

“Charlie’s family and friends are in our hearts and thoughts during this time,” Bowdoin President Clayton Rose said in a prepared statement. “We share with them our profound gratitude that Charlie found joy in athletic competition and in life, and that he taught so many others to discover that joy for themselves.”

A visitation for friends and family will take place from 5-7 p.m. Oct. 4 at Bracket Funeral Home in Brunswick. A celebration of life will take place 11 a.m. Oct. 5 at the Farley Field House at Bowdoin College.

Chris Quattrucci can be contacted at:

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