Our beloved father, husband, grandfather and friend recently passed on June 27, 2020. Glen Butte, member of the Original Milan 1954 Indiana High School State Champions and inspiration for the movie Hoosiers, took his final breath in his home of Batesville, Indiana with his wife of 59 years Dixie Butte and son Jon Butte by his side.
At 6’5”, Glen Butte was born to play basketball. Born in Milan on September 1, 1938, Glen was a member of the self-named “Alleycats” – a group of young boys who would play basketball in the alley of neighboring town Pierceville. Glen would chuckle when retelling the story about why him and his friends “always went right” during a game of basketball. Apparently there was a big pile of manure on the left of the alley where they played, so they adopted the habit of always going right in order to avoid a stinky situation!
Fast forward to 1954 when Glen is a sophomore at Milan High School. It’s a story many of you are familiar with, the one that inspired the movie Hoosiers starring Gene Hackman. It’s called the “Milan Miracle”, a true David versus Goliath story of how a small-town high school basketball team defeated the big-city high school team to take home the 1954 State Championship title. This would be the moment that would forever define Glen’s life.
After high school, Glen became the first in his family to graduate college with a basketball scholarship from Indiana University where he played under Branch McCracken. He would eventually move back to South Eastern Indiana where he married his high school sweetheart, Dixie, in 1960. With his degree in Education he thrived as a teacher and basketball coach in Moores Hill, Dillsboro and Orleans, before he settled into Batesville and was able to share his love of the game as a High School Administrator to generations to come.
Survived by his wife, Dixie, daughter, Lesa (Michael) Worthington, son Jon (Nicole) Butte, 2 grandchildren, Karsen and Brayden, brother, Bill (Linda) Butte and sister, Ruth (Harley) White. Glen always had a sparkle in his eye when he talked about the 1954 game. He was a legend around town – being inducted into both Indiana and Ripley County’s Basketball Hall of Fames, and receiving the Sagamore of Wabash Award – the highest honor the state of Indiana could give. Joining the ranks of distinguished recipients like David Letterman and Muhammad Ali, the Sagamore of Wabash Award is “…the highest honor an Indiana Governor gives… given for wisdom, and public commitment, and a concern for the well-being of others.” (former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels).
Although the 1954 game was one of his memories, Glen was able to relive it in 1986 when director David Anspaugh and writer Angelo Pizzo, went to Hollywood to retell the story. Starring Gene Hackman and Oscar-nominated Dennis Hopper for his performance as Shooter, Hoosiers became a sleeper hit. Through the movie Glen was able to share his pride and love of Indiana basketball, and teach people about the power of human perseverance and belief.
Although hype of the movie faded over the years, the story and his love of basketball never did. In June 2013, a woman by the name of Roselyn McKittrick opened the doors to the Milan ’54 Hoosiers Museum off IN 101 Exit 156. It was here that Glen would spend time in his later years, sharing stories about his youth and teaching kids the values and lessons of working as a team. Built to honor and cherish the “Milan Miracle”, the museum is adorned with memorabilia such as letter jackets, high school lockers, signed basketballs and more. A TV replays old footage from the final seconds of the game. Glen loved to visit and go back in time, if just for an afternoon.
During family get togethers and celebrations, we could always count on Glen’s animated retellings of the day he and his teammates were escorted by the police around Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis to celebrate their victory. Or when he came home, humbled by the honor of becoming a symbol of inspiration to the proud Milan citizens celebrating the David versus Goliath win in a town that needed something to cheer for. Basketball was in Glen’s DNA. Nothing made him happier and more at ease then watching IU and Pacers games, analyzing the plays and rooting for Indiana athletes as they rose in success.
Although Glen’s body is no longer with us, his spirit shines on. We know he’d want the preservation and sharing of his story to continue through the Milan ’54 Hoosiers Museum. This is Glen’s legacy. This is the story and memory that pushed him forward, and it’s the one he’d want all of you to remember him for. In memory of Glen Butte, help us make this story one we, and future generations, will never forget. Our goal is $55,000, in honor of Glen’s number “55”. Donate at https://www.gofundme.com/glen-butte. Glen’s wishes were for no services, just to help preserve the legacy of the Milan ‘54 Hoosiers.