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Remembering Butch

About Butch

Born on March 28, 1952 to Ernest and Harverda Reimer, the oldest of two brothers and one sister, Everett "Butch" Reimer lived all his life in the Green Bay, Wi area.  Married to Jill DeYoung in 1981, they had two children - Jake (10/04/86) and Hannah (10/08/89), the former a graduate of Northern  Michigan University and a four  year letter winning football player there and the latter currently a junior at UW-Eau Claire.  He coached both children as they were growing up.jake game

Professionally, Butch was the director of Facilities for the Pulaski School District.  He was employed for 34 years by the district in which he oversaw the construction of many new facilities and the upgrading of old ones.  In charge of a staff of almost 30 people, he did his job well including recently working on the current building repair referendum totaling $25 million and squeezing money out of the utility budget to offset increases elsewhere.

As an athlete, Butch had few peers.  A fast pitch softball pitcher, he competed at the highest levels in the US including the World Championships.   After taking up Nordic skiing in the 80’s in his 20's, he completed 13 American Birkebeiners, finishing four times in the top one hundred and an astounding 51st personal best.  Butch had an incredible work ethic and was known to go on 2 hour jogs regularly.  He finished three marathons.

Butch was a coach of many sports at various levels from recreational youth to championship NCAA Division 1.  For over a decade he coached travel soccer for both boys and girls in Pulaski as well as the United Soccer Club in Allouez.   Both the boys and girls varsity soccer programs at Pulaski High  School were lead by Butch for many years.   From 1988 to 2002 and then from 2006 to 2010, he was the coach for the University of Green Bay Nordic Mens and Womens Ski teams.  In taking over the two year old program, he boosted the squad into national prominence.   In his first season as Mens coach, he recruited 3 high school seniors who were solid skiers and added two athletes who he taught to ski to make sure he had the required five men to compete as a team in the NCAAs.  During his tenure, he sent over 44 men/women to compete in the NCAA Championships and posted two regional championships as well as two conference titles.  In 2009, he was named Midwest NCAA Nordic Coach of the Year.   His expertise in Nordic skiing was recognized in 1995 when he was selected as one of three coaches to assist the United States at the World University games in Jacai, Spain.

Butch also was the coach of the UWGB Fast Pitch team from 1996 to 2002.  Although his record was a mere 104-150, the program was struggling badly when he took over.  He upgraded the program by recruiting solid athletes and then using his coaching skills (particularly his pitching knowledge) to the point where he led the squad to three straight conference tournament title games, including the team’s runner-up finish in 2000 when UWGB posted a program best 27-15 record.  Butch served as the head coach for both the softball and Nordic ski teams for two seasons, from the fall of 1996 to the spring of 1998.

Known as a soft sell recruiter, Butch often brought in lesser accomplished athletes but people that he knew with coaching and hard work would be successful.  He simply brought out more in his athletes than they thought possible by believing in them and making them believe in themselves.  He challenged them to constantly improve.  He was known for his respect for both his own skiers as well as those on competing teams.  He just seemed to always do the right thing.

Growing up, he graduated from Green Bay West High and NWTC.   Butch was certified in HVAC systems but possessed working knowledge in plumbing, electrical and carpentry.  He was also a pilot.  Butch had certain loves besides his family.  He loved animals especially his last dog, Wilson, a black Labrador.  He collected T-shirts and rocks from places he traveled to.  As a selfless individual he donated much of his life to being a volunteer - e.g. youth soccer, Building/Grounds Committee at Notre Dame, etc.  He was extremely devoted to his parents.  For example, after his father passed away, he would make it a point to have Friday Fish with his mother.   Butch's focus in life was simple - how could he serve others.

Eulogy, October 19, 2010

Reimer Family

I think Jill allowed me the honor to speak today because she knew I had a man-crush on Butch.  According to my kids about 5 years ago I developed this man-crush on him.  Why?  Because I always talked about him in glowing terms.  I admired him greatly - he had some wonderful gifts.  It was at that time my family and I bought a Compound with two homes on the Chain-o-Lakes in Waupaca with Jill/Butch and Julie/Larry.  We moved back to Wisconsin from New York shortly thereafter.

I had done plenty of stuff with Butch before but having a common place to spend time and fix stuff together gave me a full appreciation of his amazing talents.   (A side note here is that Butch is the only person I have ever known that has two homes - both right next to relatives - one his family and the other his in-laws. )  I had always taken  him to be one of the most virile (I know that is a term that usually is used by females) and physically strong  persons  I knew.  If you bumped into him, he felt a rock.  He was imposing but not intimidating - the latter due to his soft and kind personality.  To illustrate his strength, my brother John, Butch and I were moving a piano once down a flight of stairs.  Butch had one end - John and I the other.  I think his end was steadier.  For him, it was no big deal.

He was the most disciplined person I have ever known when he put his mind to it.  When it was discovered that he had diabetes and his eating habits would have to change, I knew that he would immediately change - which he did.  One year my brother-in-law, Bob Alexejun, convinced him to do the 55K American Birkebiener.   Butch had not skied before but he jumped in with both feet.  The first year Bob and a paraplegic man beat him in that race; however, Butch looked to improve his techniques and of course, he worked hard at conditioning.  No one had a better work ethic - running for 2 hours at time was not unusual.  Quickly Bob and the paraplegic man could not keep up.  Butch finished 51st in one Birkie.  That is astounding because he was racing against thousands from all over the world.  To me that the equivalent of someone taking up a new sport like football in college and then being QB for the Packers four years later.  He only mentioned 51st to me once.  I know if I had done it, I would have introduced myself as "Hi, I am Butch Reimer.  Did you know I finished 51st in the Birkie?"   He completed over 10 Birkies and then did a Butch move.  While he was still able to complete at the highest level, he did a most unselfish act - he became the guide for the paraplegic guy.  I scratched my head at that but he did that in typical Butch fashion - very understated.  No big deal.

Now I did a few Birkie's with Butch and besides racing he always performed two roles - he applied the wax to the skis and was a cheerleader for everyone.  On the former point he became kind of a guru in that everyone wanted to have him do the waxing because he was so good at it.  Of course although he should have been discriminatory, he was not and so he waxed even the lowest person's skis.  I know, he did mine.  No big deal.

All that was a perfect entre for coaching at UWGB where he did that and more on the highest level in the sport.   Last year when he was named NCAA Midwest Coach of the year for Nordic Skiing, he told me over the phone.  I had called him on a different topic.  At one point, the conversation led to "Hey Jed, I was voted Midwest Coach of the Year.  So how did your soccer team do today?"  I replied "Wait a second, how many regions are there in the country?"  His retort was "Three.  Now how have your girls team been doing?"  He was just so humble about what he had accomplished.  No big deal.

One of my favorite stories has Butch in a local 10K ski race in the Green Bay area.  Although tracking had been done the previous day, it had snowed quite heavily that night.  As usual, the leaders started strong this time with Butch in the lead followed in Indian style by 3-4 guys.  Now going first after the snow fall meant that Butch who was a bull and so strong was working harder than the rest breaking the trail - making it easier for those behind.  At one point he fell.  He was surprised when the others stopped and waited until he got back on his skis and took the lead again.  He fell again 2 more times with the waiting occurring each time.  I know I would have insisted someone else take the lead.  Not Butch.  With a half mile to go, the others went around an exhausted Butch to win.  Now the first thought is that he was a little dull in his thinking;  however, knowing him, he probably he thought he could gut out a win even with a handicap.  Also being a gentleman, he was always too nice of a guy to yell at others.  No big deal.  

His professional knowledge of areas like electrical, HVAC systems, carpentry and plumbing were phenomenal.   He shared these gifts with many of us.  Often he would repair things without your knowledge where he would see something that needed fixing and only later on would you find out he had done the work.  He did not care about getting the credit.  What a wonderful virtue!!!  Before we moved into our house in Waupaca, the heat went off and the pipes froze.  Without being asked by me, he fixed 22 leaks in the pipes getting drenched in the process a number of times.  Weeks later he casually mentioned to me what he had done.  Along the same lines, after almost every meal we had at the Compound, he would do the dishes without being asked.  No big deal.

People wanted to be around Butch.  Although my son Jamie did not wanted to travel to San Diego for a family vacation, when Jamie found out that Butch was coming, he immediately wanted to go.  No big deal.

He played sports at the highest levels but never complained or seemed to get hurt - so tough.  He was a giver, not a receiver.  A doer, not a talker.  Socially engaging when he wanted to be but not a hustler.  Funny but never told a joke.  (One funny incident .  Johanna, my daughter, recently got married with a lot of cousins being there.  One of my cousins who is older and very over bearing approached Butch.  Now Butch knows her well but my cousin was not sure who he was.  She said to him "Don't I know you?"  His reply since he did not want to talk with her was he was "security".)  He did not drink or curse.  He never read books but was very knowledgeable.  He picked up knowledge just by watching and listening to others.  He never played soccer while I did collegiately but he understood strategies and tactics better than me.  Whereas some people hoard information, Butch would freely share it.  BTW, he loved coaching soccer and paid a price by having a finger degloved when his wedding ring got caught on a soccer net hook.  He could have saved the finger and its use but it would have taken too long to heal.  After being given the options for dealing w/ the finger, Butch just casually said cut it off. and moved on.  No big deal. 

He coached and managed but did not over manage.  He let people have rope.  For instance, his best skier, Santi, last year Butch told me had some unusual training techniques that Butch thought were incorrect but he let him use them any way.  Another situation was that after a couple of football games at Northern Michigan I heard Jake tell his dad that he wanted to quit.  Butch's response both times was "Go ahead and quit.  I do not care if you quit if you are not having fun."  Jake stuck it out for 4 years.  Butch showed young men and women how to accomplish more than they thought they could.  He knew how to motivate.  He made everyone around him better people.  No big deal.

He also had some skills that took me by surprise like his planning and organizational talents.  He had to have these with the 3 jobs he had.  Coordinating 25 young people for a training session along with some eating and pleasure from UWGB to Waupaca took skill.  Also his computer knowledge.  At the Compound he would often be on his laptop communicating with people all over the world - Russia, Norway, Alaska, etc.  He even knew how to use MS Publisher.  No big deal.

With all his virtues, Butch had his flaws.  He would go into funks especially when he did not want to get into confrontations.  Butch could be anal and stubborn to the point he did not care even if he looked dull.  He admitted to me that he liked to start new projects but was not good at finishing them.  That was fine with me especially since that was something I was good at.  He had food weaknesses - for years SusiQ's and Debbi's as well as Diet Mountain Dew and peanut M&M's.  After diabetes, his more recent food weakness was ice cream and cookies.  He also liked the Yankees - now what's up with that.

Personally he always treated me in a special way - always inquiring about personal details.  He was most intimate.  An example of special treatment was that one year for Christmas he personally built a gorgeous butcher block table for my wife and me.  He only built one other that I know of - for Jill.  Now as I mention how he treated me specially, I reflect on the Caringbridge web site including the 16k hits and the 580 guestbook entries - many from people that Jill did not know.  Butch had touched thousands of people in the same intimate way I felt he touched me.  He coached and encouraged both Hannah and Jake in everything they did, coaching Hannah's soccer team for almost a decade and going to each one of Jake's football games at NMU, racking up 25k miles and 500 hours in the car - many times alone.  I'll bet that to a person in this church that we each feel our ledgers of who owes what to whom has us all owing Butch.  What a credit to him!!!  No big deal.

I read a recent remark by Tom Brokaw, the newscaster, where he stated "It is easy to make a buck.  It is a lot tougher to make a difference in people's lives."  The number of people in this room is exhibit A to prove how much he touched others.  Butch obviously took the tougher route.   I admired, respected and loved him as much as any human being.  And yes, I did have a man-crush on him.    

Jed DeYoung, brother-in-law