CERES — Pierce Butler, a former school board member and basketball coach at Ceres High School, died at home Wednesday after a brief illness. He was 81.
Mr. Butler served on the Ceres Unified School District board of trustees from 1973 to 1997.
He was one of two coaches inducted in the Ceres High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008 during the school's centennial celebration. His high school coaching career spanned from 1956 to 1967 and 1983 to 1993. He also served as the school's athletic director.
Mr. Butler's girls basketball teams won six league championships. He coached varsity boys hoops as well, capturing one Valley Oak League crown for Ceres High.
"Everybody (in Ceres) knew him when we were growing up," said Holly Butler of Nashville, Tenn., one of his six children. "Of course, he loved sports, particularly basketball. He was a great role model."
Friends remembered him as a devoted family man.
"He had a lot of integrity," said Bill Bilson, who owned sporting goods stores in Ceres and Turlock. "He was a real family man. He went to all his kids' events when his boys played football and basketball, and his girls took dance classes from my wife. "
Mr. Butler was born Nov. 29, 1928, in Pontiac, Mich. According to his family, he moved to Minnesota where he was raised by his mother. He graduated from St. Cloud State University and then served in the Army.
He was hired to teach math at Ceres High School in 1956 and was asked to coach basketball and football.
Mr. Butler is survived by his wife, Wanda; a sister, Pat Mertz of St. Paul, Minn.; his sons, David Butler of Denver, Patrick Butler of Ceres and Chris Butler of Austin, Texas; his daughters, Beverly Soares of Ceres, Holly Butler of Nashville and Denise Butler of Modesto; and stepdaughters Leigh, Lynn and Cheryl Eppler of the Modesto area.