Man behind ND logo dies

From The Observer


A memorial service and Mass for Jim T. Butz, class of 1949, who worked in the Notre Dame Stadium press box for decades and was instrumental in the creation of the iconic Fighting Irish leprechaun logo, will take place at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Monday morning.

Butz, who died Oct. 12 at the age of 90, will be buried at Cedar Grove Cemetery on campus.

Butz was on the sports information department staff for the football team from 1947 to 1949 and returned to Notre Dame every home football game for 31 years to work in the press box as a stringer for United Press, Jim P. Butz, the son of Jim T. Butz, said. In the mid-1960s, the University planned to change its current mascot, an Irish terrier called Clashmore, but Jim P. Butz said his father, who worked at Wilson Sporting Goods at the time, immediately thought of Ted Drake, an illustrator for Wilson.

“Dad said, ‘I know exactly the guy you need to be working with,’” Jim P. Butz said. “He called on Ted and said, ‘can you create some symbol for Notre Dame, some example their Irish heritage that they want to exemplify?’ And [the leprechaun] was what Ted came up with.”

Jim T. Butz gave Drake’s drawing to the University, and in 1965, the leprechaun became the official mascot, Jim P. Butz said. Drake, who died in 1999, went on to design the logo for the Chicago Bulls.

“When you think of how many millions of people know that Fighting Irish logo – the vast majority of the people who are alive never knew the University had a different mascot,” Ric Jarrett, a friend of the Butz family, said. “They see the ND and Fighting Irish logo … That one little tiny aspect of his life has touched a couple hundred million people.”

Jim T. Butz was devoted to Notre Dame and a lifelong fan, his son said. A native of Akron, Ohio, Jim T. Butz grew up listening to Irish football on the radio, and after high school he was drafted into World War II. Whenever he could find a typewriter, Jarrett said Butz would write a letter to Notre Dame’s dean of admissions and express his interest in attending the University.

“He would tell him he had survived this or survived that and wanted to go to school,” Jarrett said. “He did that the entire time he was gone.”

Jim P. Butz said after the war, his father had trouble getting into Notre Dame since all the soldiers who had been drafted while they attended Notre Dame had priority so they could finish their degrees. Jim T. Butz asked some friends to put in good words for him, and he caught the attention of Sports Information Director Charlie Callahan, who brought Butz’s case to then-University President John J. Cavanaugh.

“Fr. Cavanaugh called for his file, and all of the letters in the file were neatly typed, nothing handwritten,” Jim P. Butz said. “It was easy to read. Everything was documented. That’s when Cavanaugh said, if Fr. Sorin had not established Notre Dame for students such as this, who did he establish the University for? He asked how many beds they were already short, and he said, ‘We’re going to be short one more.’”

Before he even started as a student in 1946, Butz was hired by Callahan as a staff member, and Butz soon became a public-relations writer for athletic director and football coach Frank Leahy. For the three years Butz was a student, the football team never lost a game, and in 1947 the team won one of the four national championships under Leahy’s leadership. For all that time, Butz was “Leahy’s right-hand man; he was the one speaking for him,” Jim P. Butz said.

Jim T. Butz married in 1948, had the first of five children and graduated after three years. Afterwards, he moved to a Chicago suburb to raise his family and work for Wilson Sporting Goods’ marketing department. He continued to write, ghostwriting for sports greats such as bowler Joe Wilman and golfer Arnold Palmer, his son said.

Eventually Butz settled in the golf industry, running a variety of golf-related companies until he became acting executive director of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA), which took him to Palm Beach, Florida, his son said. He also lived in Los Angeles for a time before retiring in the Chicago area near his family. For the entire time he worked in Chicago, Butz returned to every Notre Dame game in a media capacity, and he was unfailingly courteous to fans of every team.

“My dad would make a point of greeting visitors from other schools and welcoming them from Notre Dame,” Jim P. Butz said. “He’d pull them over to our tailgate, wherever he found them.”

Throughout his life, Jim T. Butz always remembered when somebody helped him succeed, his son said, whether Callahan, Leahy or a Belgian family. Jim P. Butz said when his father was behind enemy lines during the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, his squad hid for days in the basement of a house in Wye, Belgium. Years later, Jim T. Butz returned to Wye.

“He would bring blue jeans. He would bring candy bars to the family whose house they hid out in,” Jim P. Butz said. “He just wanted to thank them for having a house, for having someplace for him to hide. They didn’t really play any material role in his survival, but he just felt that burden of responsibility, that obligation to them. He felt that toward so many people in his lifetime, and he was always trying to repay favors to people who had helped him.”

Jarrett said Jim T. Butz’s was devoted to the University for his entire life and several of his children and grandchildren attended Notre Dame or Saint Mary’s.

“His family was first; his friends were second,” Jarrett said. “Anything and everything Notre Dame would have been right up there. He loved everything about the University. He loved his time there; he loved supporting the school. Having lived through WWII, in his mind it was … the ideal place to be. He loved it. He loved it in his 20s and he loved it in his 90s.”

Jarrett said Butz embodied the qualities of a Notre Dame graduate.

“If you were to roll up all the things which as an outsider you’d think of Notre Dame, that’s what he would be,” Jarrett said. “He was a kind man, smart, intelligent. He was a real people person. He got everything done … he lived the real deal.”

Dining halls host students, fans for gameday dinners

From The Observer

After the clock has hit zero and the Alma Mater has been sung after the Northwestern game Saturday, thousands of students and fans will stream out of Notre Dame Stadium and into North and South Dining Halls for a decades-old Game Day tradition: the post-game Candlelight Dinner.

The dinners feature top sirloin and an assortment of cakes and pies, and the dining halls, which stay open until two hours after the game ends, are decorated with tablecloths, low lighting, music and candles.

Marc Poklinkowski, South Dining Hall’s general manager, said the dinners often draw 2600 to 2800 people to South as opposed to 2000 on a normal Saturday. The planning for the dinners begins over the summer, when the dining hall staff puts together the menus and places the food orders. Each manager then takes on one game day, organizing and overseeing decorations and food prep.

Poklinkowski said for each Candlelight Dinner, South Dining Hall orders more than 600 pounds of top sirloin and around 200 cakes and pies, while increasing its normal fare — 600 pieces of fish, for example, instead of 400.

On Game Day the dining hall staff springs into action long before dinnertime — a cook arrives to start preparing the top sirloin at 8 a.m., Poklinkowski said.

Paula Roberts, the manager in charge of the Northwestern Candlelight Dinner at South Dining Hall, said the cashiers arrive at 7 a.m. to prepare for brunch and start selling tickets to visitors — and they’ll stay until dinner is over.

“[The staff is] real flexible with us, because football is so huge on campus, and when they know it’s football and we have a game, it’s done,” Roberts said. “They’re here until they’re done, and they know it’s expected of them, and we’re grateful that they give us their time like that.”

Due to students’ brunch and President’s Brunch, though, preparation of the dining rooms doesn’t start until mid afternoon, Poklinkowski said.

“The brunch ends at 1:30, and people don’t really clear out until 2 or 2:30, so we really have three hours to turn both dining rooms over — including resetting this from the President’s Brunch, which has a completely different table setup — back to normal, getting the table covers on, getting everything all lined up,” he said. “It’s a pretty labor-intensive task.”

But the dining hall staff rises to the challenge, Poklinkowski said.

“Everybody is just kind of doing their thing, every nook and cranny is being used,” he said. “Anywhere we can get people to work on a game day, we do.”

By 5:30 p.m., the dinner is ready — tables covered, candles lit, cakes and pies plated. Usually, Poklinkowski said, people trickle in throughout the evening, but the staff braces for the post-game rush.

“We love it if it’s a blowout or something,” he said. “People will leave early, and it’s actually kind of helps us overall, if it’s bad weather. If we could get five, six, seven hundred in before the end of the game, it’s a lot better for everybody involved.”

But when 1700 people converge on South Dining Hall at once, the staff works to keep the line smooth and orderly, keeping the line of students separate from that of cash-paying customers and regulating how many people are in the serving areas at once.

“That line’s intense,” Roberts said.

The dining hall once timed how quickly they could get every diner through the servery and into the dining rooms, Poklinkowski said .

“We can have everybody with food, sitting down, in an hour,” he said.

Poklinkowski said it usually doesn’t matter whether the game was a win or a loss and once students and visitors hit the dining hall, they’re happy.

“I know somebody that’s not a Notre Dame fan, and he’ll ask me, ‘You know, what was the mood in the dining hall, after a tough loss?’” Poklinkowski said. “And you know what, everybody always has fun. A lot of times you can’t tell if we’ve won or lost. Everybody always seems to be in such a good mood when they come in. …The game is over; now it’s time to come and enjoy dinner.”

Poklinkowski said there is usually a minor rush after the post-game Masses end, and then the line dies down and South closes. The employees, however, stay to clean up, count down cash drawers and prepare for breakfast the next day.

In the end, Poklinkowski said, the Candlelight Dinner is an important part of the Game Day experience.

“Our goal is really to help make game day special during students’ time here,” he said. “We’ll even hear that from some of our alumni student workers. [They’ll] say, ‘Man, I had to come back for the Candlelight.’ It’s part of their Notre Dame experience.”

Student groups prepare for midterm elections

From The Observer

As Tuesday’s midterm elections approach, members of the Notre Dame College Democrats and College Republicans are making phone calls and knocking on doors, helping candidates for local and national offices campaign and get out the vote.

Senior Mark Gianfalla, president of the College Republicans, said the group focused primarily on campaigning for Jackie Walorski (R-IN), the representative for Indiana’s 2nd district who is running for re-election, and Jeff Sanford, who is running for county prosecutor. He said the club organized rides to phone banks every Thursday over the past several months and canvassed neighborhoods in the county every weekend.

“It gets you the experience of seeing how much of an effect you can have,” Gianfalla said. “That’s why we’re focusing so much on the prosecutorial race. It’s a small race, smaller office, but in the end, our group could have a huge effect on it. So are some of the county council races we’ve been working on. It’s important to see how you can make a difference.”

Senior Michelle McCarthy, co-president of the College Democrats, said that, although the group does not campaign for candidates directly, several members of the club intern for Joe Bock, a professor at the Eck Center for Global Health who is running against Walorski, and some members helped county council candidate Chris Stackowicz’s campaign in the spring. McCarthy, who canvassed and made calls for the Bock campaign, said working in the field allowed her to learn about South Bend politics and the people who vote in local elections.

“I’ve done some research. I’ve talked to local residents about what they want, what they don’t want, knocking on doors,” McCarthy said. “It’s a really great way to see South Bend. By actually talking to people, you figure out what they’re actually interested in and what they actually care about, which might not necessarily be the same things as a Notre Dame college student.”

Senior Iris Schweier, a member of the College Democrats who interned for the Bock campaign’s financial wing in the spring and did field work this fall, said meeting voters helped prepare her for a career in the political field.

“I think [I’m] getting a more firsthand experience of what politics actually is,” Schweier said. “I had some policy experience before this, with legislation and certain issues, but now I’m figuring out the people aspect of politics, which is so cool. If we’re electing these people to represent us, the people who they’re representing are so important, getting to know how they feel about issues and how they’re affected and whether or not they’re going to vote.”

Sophomore Louis Bertolotti, the College Republicans’ director of political affairs, said canvassing in South Bend and Mishawaka, especially in low-income neighborhoods, helped him understand the issues important to voters.

“We live in the Notre Dame bubble. It’s really easy to just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride, but there are a lot of issues out there,” Bertolotti said. “Going out, getting to meet these people and going to see the issues that matter to them really shows what it’s all about. It gives you perspective of what you’re doing it all for, and it gives you motivation to keep working hard, keep doing what you’re doing.”

Bertolotti said the College Republicans will hand out literature on candidates on Election Day and continue to work with the St. Joseph County Republicans after the results come in, collecting voter information before the next election cycle.

McCarthy said members of the College Democrats will be at the Bock campaign headquarters Tuesday. She said working on campaigns this election cycle helped her make connections in the St. Joseph County Democratic Party, and she said she hopes to continue to foster those relationships in the future.

“Now that I have the names and the contacts of local leaders, I definitely let them know that Notre Dame College Democrats is a resource for the people of South Bend,” McCarthy said. “We have people who are very passionate about these issues, and it’s a mutually beneficial relationship there, where our club members can really get involved with real politics in a real city, and hopefully we can provide some manpower to [the Democratic Party] as well.”