Out of This Year's Commencement, 'A Story of Grace'

18 May 2011 BY Kelly Engebretson '99 M.A. in University News

Mike Shapiro, father of graduating senior Max Shapiro, calls the tale behind a scholarship his son received his freshmen year through the University of St. Thomas – the Cole Butler Memorial Scholarship − "a story of grace."

The grace of which he speaks traces back to Gail Butler, mother of Cole Butler '02, a varsity basketball star at St. Thomas who died in a 2005 snowmobile accident.

Gail will attend this weekend's spring commencement ceremony as a guest of the Shapiros. Mike said her attendance shows "an element of grace that we don't see too often. It's an honor to have her join us."

When Mike first saw the scholarship listed on one of Max's freshman tuition bills, Cole's name rang a bell. "I thought I knew the name, but I couldn't figure out how," he said. He couldn't let the feeling go, and it wasn't until a few days later, while talking about the scholarship with a friend, that he finally was able to connect the dots. "My friend said, 'You know who that is, don't you? That's Gail's son, and you've met him.'"

Years earlier, Mike had been introduced to Cole through his friend Pat Brooks, who was Gail's husband at the time and Cole's stepfather. Brooks has helped with the tournament – cooking steaks, driving golf carts and picking up the T-shirt tab – since its inception. Mike remembered their introduction clearly. "I have a pretty good eye for kids − I was head of the PTA at Max's middle school," Mike said, "and Cole was one of those kids who was paying attention…he had all those good pieces."

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Cole Butler '02, left, in a game against Macalester. Photo from the 2002 Aquinas.


Ex-Tommie Basketball Star Cole Butler Dies at Age 25

March 7, 2005

Funeral services are Thursday at 10 a.m. in Rochester for former St. Thomas men's basketball standout Cole Butler, 25, who died in a snowmobile accident early Saturday morning near Siren, Wisconsin.

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