Personal Reflection on the Life of Chess Butler


I didn’t have the opportunity to know “Chess”, or William Chessley Butler, who died this past week at the age of 23 from cystic fibrosis. Chess was the son of one of my closest high school friends, Nikki LeMaster Butler, and I just received word of his passing.
I am posting this beautiful video tribute to him and doing so with permission of his family — but at this time of year, I not only think through what challenges lie ahead, what I did and didn’t get done the year before, but I reflect on the people who have meant so much to me.
I would have liked to have known this young man – but had only recently re-connected with his mom and her brother, Bill LeMaster, via facebook.
One of my great mentors, Walter Beran, passed away in 2007 — and I couldn’t bring myself to write or think about his passing these last two years. He was one of the essential people in my life who launched me in my career. He kept me from becoming a bureaucrat, said I’d be a lousy accountant, and encouraged me to leave law to others. He pointed me the direction I’ve been going for a couple of decades.
Another close friend of mine, a Japanese diplomat who loved mountain climbing, Koichi Haraguchi, died October of this year at the summit of Mt. Amakazari in Itoigawa, Niigata Prefecture, Japan. I miss him too.
I’m sure many folks who read this blog have been close to people who have passed — or who are close to moving on.
I just wanted to reserve this space on TWN to pay respects to Walter, Haraguchi-san, and Chess Butler — who seems to have had a terrific life.
— Steve Clemons


6 comments on “Personal Reflection on the Life of Chess Butler

  1. N Butler says:

    Thank you, Steve.


  2. David says:

    I lost my father two years ago. He was 98, and still mentally sharp, and in fact still taking his own showers two weeks before his body simply failed him. Sarcasium’s words spoke directly to me. It was long ago, it was yesterday, and occasionally it wasn’t at all. I find that I miss him more, not less, whenever the day chances to remind me of him.
    Thank you, Steve, for including this on TWN, which is always worth the visit, for many reasons and on many levels.


  3. Roger says:

    Thank you Steve Clemons.


  4. Sarcasium says:

    Thanks so much. I know how you’re feeling because I lost a good colleague on Thanksgiving, of all days. And six years before, my beloved grandfather was buried on Thanksgiving.
    Some days it feels like it happened so long ago, and some days it feels like it was only yesterday. And I’m still grieving. Part of me also thinks they’re still alive. Nevertheless, I believe that the best way to celebrate a person’s life is to continue that person’s legacy, whether through donations, mentoring or just simply…kindness.
    It’s cliche now, but it’s so true when they say that it’s moments like these when one really understands what the holidays (in my case, Thanksgiving) are really all about. It’s about the *people.* Take care and best of luck to everyone as New Year’s rolls around.
    (My apologies to those who saw this on another posting. My computer is ‘burping’ again, so I have to repost. Sigh.)


  5. Emily says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I have been friends with the Lemasters for over 35 years and love them like family. I could barely watch the video through my tears. This was a wonderful tribute and a way to help us all grieve.


  6. Ben says:

    I think this is a great use of TWN and an important reminder to us all that there is life outside the office and that we need to focus on the people in that life more.
    A friend’s dad died Sunday of cancer and, as I should have know my friend was going through this for months, I realized that personally I did a poor job of focusing on the lives of those around me and how I could alleviate their suffering or support their quest for happiness.
    I vow in 2010 not just better prioritize my work/life balance, but to better prioritize the needs of others over what are often my insignificant challenges.


Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *