NOTABLE DEATH West Brook mourns educator and coach
The lights were off in Chad Butler’s chemistry class on Wednesday afternoon at West Brook High School, but on the locked red door where the chemistry teacher/junior varsity soccer coach/freshman wide receivers coach spent time educating students, someone left a message that encompassed how the Bruins family feels the day after his death.
“Fly high coach Butler,” it read in black marker above the fire extinguisher sign.
On Tuesday afternoon at approximately 2:13 p.m., officers were called to a convenience store on 11th Street in response to a possible medical emergency involving Butler, according to information from the Beaumont Police Department.
Butler was transported to a nearby hospital, where he later died.
Butler, who returned to coaching for the 2018-19 school year, was loved by his West Brook family.
“Chad had a huge heart and just was a very honest, hardworking guy that the kids loved,” West Brook athletic director and head football coach Eric Peevey said. “He’s definitely one of the guys not here just for football.”
News of his passing spread on social media, and Peevey addressed students at school on Wednesday.
“Our kids took it (the news) as expected,” Peevey said. “But at the same point, they love their coach and they’re going to honor him. They know he’s in a better place.”
Peevey reached out to bring Butler back to Bruin football, where he previously served as the receivers coach in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he said.
“I knew he was wanting to come back, and I gave him a call,” Peevey said. “He’s a loyal guy. With coaching, it’s not always about how much you know x’s and o’s, but it’s people you can trust. I knew he was going to be a hard worker.”
In Butler’s first season back at West Brook, the Bruins football team (13-3) went on a deep playoff run and finished as the state runner-up in District 21-6A.
West Brook football hadn’t been to the state championship since 1982, and Peevey remembers sharing a special moment with Butler before the 2018 Bruins took the field at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
“He just kind of put his arm over my shoulder and said, ‘Coach, we made it!’” Peevey said. “It really was an exciting moment for him.”
Butler was well known in the coaches circles of Southeast Texas, not only through the relationships he built as a football coach, but also as a representative for Balfour.
“One thing that stood out about Chad is that he had a big heart,” Peevey said. “A lot of people know him and a lot of coaches in the area know him. He would do anything for any of the kids in the area when he was working for Balfour for those years and would bend over backwards to find out ways to get them (letterman) jackets.
“He was the same way on the field. Whatever our kids needed, with a smile he would help out,” he said. “He really enjoyed being back around the field, around the boys and getting to coach again.”