John Maurice Butler’s 1887 senior photograph taken at Nicholson Brothers studio in Crawfordsville

The young student pictured above is John Maurice Butler. The Butler Prize was established in 1923 by Mrs. Margaret Butler Snow in honor of her beloved brother, a member of the Class of 1887. The award as announced in September of 1922 was to pay a $150 cash prize to the young man chosen based on “scholarship, personality and attitude towards life.” At the end of the school year, three men were nominated by the faculty and Paul H. Garrett was chosen as the first recipient. The next year Lee Norman “Pete” Thorn – the only 16 letter man (four years, four sports) in our history – was chosen.

With 86 winners, I can’t list them all. But, in addition to Pete Thorn, here are a few that are pretty well known in the history of the College: the 1925 winner was Willis Johnson, the 1930 winner was Byron Trippet, the 1936 winner was Warren “Butch” Shearer and the 1941 winner was Dick Ristine. In fact the list of Butler Prize winners reads rather like a Who’s Who of Wabash men. Many have served as Trustees, some have returned as members of the faculty and some simply lead very good lives. It is quite a distinguished list and I think it is nice that Mrs. Snow left a legacy which has allowed her brother’s name to shine down through the years as a mark of the best and the brightest students in the senior class. Today the Butler Prize is awarded to the “senior having the best standing in scholarship and character.”

So to all the Butler Prize winners that have gone before…congratulations!!

Beth Swift
Wabash College