Paul G. Butler, Jr. was just 4-years-old when he lost his dad, Paul, Sr., to colon cancer. Nine months prior he also lost his dad’s lifelong best friend and young Paul’s own godfather, Dennis Davis, Sr., to cancer as well. Though he felt his dad’s absence growing up, he was surrounded by family, friends, and community who helped sustain his dad’s legacy and work to keep Paul connected with his roots.
That legacy started long before Paul was born, all the way back to when his dad was in the 2nd grade and met Dennie Davis, Sr. These best friends would go on to co-found Beta Psi Phi at Kutztown University – the university’s first African-American fraternity. The frat brothers were always part of Paul, Jr.’s life, and like family they continue to play an important role in raising and influencing him.
Paul, Jr., first started playing trombone 8 years ago, and was led to the horn through the influence of his maternal grandfather and his uncle. An avid and talented trombone player, he chose to use his love of jazz as inspiration in organizing a “Jazz Benefit for Colon Cancer Awareness” for his senior project. The Colon Cancer Coalition would be the beneficiary, as contributing to a cause working to raise awareness and educate about screening was a way to pay tribute to his father.
The school, friends, and family gathered for the Jazz Benefit in August. The fraternity brothers from Beta Psi Phi were in attendance. And the evening was capped off with a surprise presentation for Paul from the Rockwood Park Preservation Society of a vintage King trombone.
Though he was young when his dad passed away, Paul, Jr. holds on to memories like morning runs and father/son trips to the library for afternoon story time. His parents have instilled in him the importance of keeping his dad’s memory alive, and point out the familiar mannerisms and characteristics that can remind Paul of a father who would love nothing more than to see the man his little reading and running buddy is growing up to be.
With his senior year well underway, Paul has turned his sights to college, and has already been accepted to his first choice – Kutztown University. Stepping onto that campus as a student would be one more way he is carrying on the legacy of Paul G. Butler, Sr.