Long-time FWAA member James T. Butz, 90, passed away peacefully on Oct. 12, 2014. According to FWAA Membership records, James had been a member of the organization since October 1948, or 66 years.
The family is planning a memorial mass on Nov. 24 in the basilica on the campus of Notre Dame followed by interment at Cedar Grove Cemetery (also on campus), then a reception at the Morris Inn.
The following is a narrative one of his sons, Jimmy Butz, also an FWAA member, wrote:
Jim drove himself to get into a position to attend Notre Dame by graduating atop his high school class as valedictorian, president of his class both junior and senior years, president of the student council, editor of the yearbook, sports editor of the newspaper, president of the dramatic club and head manager of the football and basketball teams.
But World War II intervened and he was drafted after graduation from Kenmore High in Akron at 18 years old, all of 5 foot 4 inches tall and 115 pounds.
He served three years as a combat infantryman in the 75th Division, becoming one of the uncommon few who survived both the D-Day landing as well as the Battle of Bulge, where he and his mates were trapped behind enemy lines in Wye, Belgium, in an unheated house when their position was overrun by the German advance. Wounded twice, he earned the Bronze Star and was subsequently knighted in 2013 by the French government for his actions in the Battle of Northern France. But his most prized military memento was his common Combat Infantryman’s Badge, a rifleman’s symbol of his status as the equal of the biggest man in his outfit.
“He had a great sense of loyalty, whether it is to his country, his family or his work,” said Jim’s younger brother, Jerry Butz, of Roselle, Ill. “I was 13 years younger than him and I never once heard him speak over what a hero he was. That wasn’t in his nature.”
But his biggest battle was just beginning. Throughout his military duty he continued to write to Notre Dame’s Dean of Admissions expressing his interest in attending if he survived the war, and this built a voluminous file. He was rejected on the basis that other veterans who were previously established students were returning to campus to continue their studies and had priority over him. More…