Leo J. Butler was born in Yonkers on October 26, 1911 and attended St. Mary’s Parochial School. At the age of eleven he joined the Catholic Boys Club on its opening day, October 12, 1922. Here he learned the rudiments and techniques of swimming and represented them for twelve years in swimming and diving competition. It is interesting to note that he was affiliated with the Catholic Boys Club and its successor. The Catholic Youth Organization, for 47 years as a coach, volunteer worker and advisor. His leadership qualities were evident an early career as a mentor and as an authority on recreational and competitive water sports.
He graduated from Yonkers High School, earning three varsity letters in swimming. His early achievements included the Yonkers Junior Swimming and Diving Championships, the Yonkers Senior Diving Championship, runner up in the Daily News Diving Championship, and the Section One High School Diving Champion. He has been an active member of the American Red Cross lifesaving class in Westchester County, and recently completed a Water Safety Instruction Course at Westchester Community College after 51 years of continuous service and participation in American Red Cross water safety programs. It is estimated that Leo J. Butler has taught over 10,000 children to swim since he began as an instructor in 1929.
His coaching credits encompass Saunders Trades School for two years in which his squad won the city high school championship each time; the United Stated Maritime College for 15 years; three years as diving instructor at Westchester Community College; 20 summers spent as swimming coach of the Leadwood Golf Club; a member of the United States Women’s Olympic Swimming and Diving Committee for nine years and coach of the Aqua Kings AAU team.
Leo Butler spent several years teaching swimming to the handicapped on a voluntary basis. As a member of the Yonkers Aquatic Council he has been a prime mover in fighting for improvements in recreational and swimming facilities. For his many accomplishments he was awarded the 1960 City of Yonkers “Outstanding Sports Personality” award by the Lud-Dale Association; and was acclaimed Westchester County’s Coach of the Year” in 1971 and 1975 as his lona Prep natators won five Catholic High School Championships, the 1975 Section One Championship, and four successive Big Five Westchester High School Championships. His son, Leo Jr., is following in his fathers footsteps. A swimming coach and American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor for 20 years, he has led teams to county, state and nationals titles in YMCA competition.