|Butch Sower in the late 1970s|
A few days ago we talked about the remarkable recovery of Marc Arce, former University of
Findlay (Ohio) track and cross country coach after a devastating bicycle accident. Today we have to report on another tragic accident that took the life of Clifton 'Butch' Sower of West Liberty, Ohio, also the result of a bicycle crash. I saw some reference to Butch's accident and passing in a series of emails, but I did not recognize the name. A little sleuthing on Google led me to Butch's obituary published in the Columbus Post Dispatch. (see below).
In the late 1970's Butch was a standout track and cross country runner in Ohio high school representing West Liberty-Salem HS. West Liberty (pop. 2000) is a small town in Logan County northwest of Columbus that has a long history of tough runners. The Big Orange Shoe Store , affectionately known as BOSS, in town has survived for years solely selling running gear in that small market, a testimony to the importance of running in West Liberty. Runners often came from 30 or 40 miles to shop at Big Orange.
Butch had some flaws as you will see if you read his obituary, but there was a lot more to Butch than the flaws mentioned, and his good deeds and effort to redeem himself are what is truly important.
Butch was the man in his high school days. He didn't run in college, he didn't move on in the sport. This blog normally only talks about the big names in the sport, but there was a sentence or two in Butch's obituary that told me something about his character.
"In 1977, Sower stopped to help a runner who had fallen, resuming a cross country race to win. The next year, he came in second in the 2-mile state championship, stumbling before the finish and being beaten by the same runner he had helped...."
This is a strong parallel to the story of John Landy stopping to help a fellow runner, Ron Clarke, then a schoolboy, during a mile race that Landy went on to win.
When we judge people, it should be by these kinds of small, spontaneous acts that tell us more about a person's character than a long thought out act that weighs the pros and cons of what we do in life. It tells us something about the inner workings of an individual more than what academic credentials in our resumes can say about us. And for that I choose to honor Butch in this blog.
|Butch at the recent BOSS run|
I didn't know Butch Sower but I did know his teammates, Corey Frost and Earl Zilles as well as their coach, Ken Lehmann. WLS was an absolute powerhouse during the 1970s. Nice article. Bill