Feb 27 2010


R.I.P. Butch Taras

I was going to write the usual small business-praising, government-bashing post tonight, but I can’t do it. Not tonight. Besides, if you’re a really smart businessperson, you’ll get more out of this little eulogy than you would from one of my lectures; just think about the meanings for YOU behind the messages that follow:

     I, and roughly 149 other guys (including two women) who play senior softball (many of us year-round when weather permits) in Southern Delaware, learned today that all of us lost a special teammate, a friend … and an outstanding human being in Butch Taras.

     Hard to imagine 150 teammates in softball? Well, that’s because it really never mattered to Butch which of the ten or so teams you played for –or even whether you were playing against the team he was assigned to. Nor did it make any difference that you might be giving him a run for the money in game performance or you were the worst player in the league. He respected everyone equally.

     But don’t think his authenticity made him a pushover. Butch was the poster boy for competitive spirit, and took winning seriously (more than once I found him at the field on an off-day, by himself, hitting one ball after another from a practice T “to improve” his near-flawless swing!).

     The bottom line is that Butch was a leader through and through because he considered everyone a teammate.

     What made this behavior especially endearing is that Butch was a truly gifted athlete who could do almost everything better than almost everybody. He was arguably the finest all-around performer in our league of 150 seniors. But he never carried his superior athletic prowess on his sleeve. In fact, except for his World Championship Softball ring that he wore with great pride, he never spoke of his abilities.

     Friendliness, humility, and courage are the traits I most admired and associated with the Butch Taras I knew. He was a “gentleman” in every sense of the word, on the field and off. And now, he has left us after such an abrupt bout with cancer that it’s hard to believe that 20 of us shared the field with him just 4-5 weeks ago!

     We all knew he was battling his way through pain and stressful treatments. And each of us in our own ways let him know that he and his devoted wife Carol could count on us for support. His positive attitude prevailed to the end. It was and –I know I speak for all of us whose lives he touched– shall forever be, an inspiration to us all. 

I know, Butch, that I won’t be the only one to reminisce and compare your great lefty power with every long-ball blast to deep right field, nor will I be the only one to remember the encouraging pats on the back you gave me for meager little pop-up singles. And who can ever forget the sincerity of your pledge to overcome this terrible disease, or the sparkle in your eyes when you spoke of your wife and family? 

God bless you and your family, Butch. You will be dearly missed, but never forgotten. Thank you from us all for having made a difference in our lives.”

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