By Christine (Tutty) Johnson
Special to Butte Sports
Before social media, the internet, and even computers, students had to take typing classes on actual typewriters.
Before selfies, digital photos, and even Polaroid pictures, people had to wait hours or even days to have their camera film developed.
Before texting, emails, and online wish lists, kids had to hand write letters to Santa and HOPE they would get answered.
A quarter of a century ago, Butte lost a teacher, photographer, and a Santa.
Tom Tutty was the youngest of four with three older sisters. He served in the military, played baseball, and wanted to be a teacher. He grew up in Helena and Butte and graduated from Butte Central and Carroll College. While at Carroll, he met Kay Moran. She was dating one of his good friends, and when got called into the service, he said the only one he trusted Kay to hang out with was Tom. Little did he know the love that would be everlasting.
After the military, my dad got his first teaching job in Wisdom. While they loved the community, they eventually moved to Butte for an opportunity to teach at Butte High School. While teaching, he earned a Masters Degree in Education from Western Montana College (now Montana Western) and would become a counselor for Butte High, where he thrived until his death. My dad loved his Butte High Bulldogs! He hardly ever missed events, from athletics to theater to music and student council and everything in between.
He taught typing for many years, and Bullet Uggetti called him “The Better Half of the Business Department.” Each year, one of my dad’s typing assignments was responding to letters From Santa to the local kids. Every letter he received to Santa was answered. In addition to all the “Dear Santa” letters, he also played Santa around town and delivered presents to some houses on Christmas Eve. Every couple of years, someone comes up to me and says, “Are you a Tutty? I had your dad for typing, and he was amazing. We typed letters from Santa, and he would always give me a good grade.” And then whisper, “and I didn’t always deserve one.” Imagine, more than 20 years after his death, more than 40 or 50 years after someone had him as a teacher, remembering fondly the impact he had them as a student.
While he loved the classroom and other school activities, his true passion (besides his family) was athletics. He attended almost every sporting event in Butte.
My dad announced and sold tickets at the Copper King games every summer — it was the minor league baseball team back in the day. I went to my first Copper King game with my dad when I was just a few days old and continued to go with him to almost every game for 13 years.
He kept score and stats at most of the Butte High sporting events, announced a lot of them, and ran the pole vault for all the track meets in Butte, including state. No matter what event was going on, you could always pick him out of a crowd. If he was keeping stats or score, he was wearing his black and white stripped official’s shirt, and he ALWAYS had a camera in his hand. He usually had a Dumdum or Tootsie Roll in his pocket too.
He knew each of the kids by name, how they did in the game over the weekend, and usually had a few pictures for them from the event. He was a great man, who instilled a lot of virtues into his kids, especially his love of sports and education.
My dad passed away on New Year’s Even 1994. A few days later, the funeral was scheduled. The school had an early release to allow students and staff to attend the services, and there was no standing room left in the church. I remember riding in the back of the car past Bonanza Freeze, looking up Montana Street, and not seeing the end of the parade of cars following us to the flats. When we turned into the cemetery, there was a camera crew filming the line the cars for the news that night. It was then I realized the impact my dad had on this community. The previous few days, our house felt like it had a revolving door between the people in and out, the flowers being delivered, and the meals being dropped off for the family. My mom knew how much of an impact my dad had on the community, and she knew they needed a way to express their grief and a way for the family to ensure his legacy would live on for years.
The Tom Tutty Memorial Scholarship was first given at the Butte Athletic Banquet in 1995 to Jovanka Tomich (McKee). She was a cheerleader and was one of my dad’s favorite students. Since then, the scholarship has been awarded to at least one senior each year who competed in football, basketball, wrestling, track, softball, cheerleading, and swimming.
The scholarship recipient is selected by designated members of the Tutty family with advice from the faculty and staff of Butte High. It is typically awarded at the Butte High Athletic Banquet, but this year we were unable to present the scholarship for the first time in its history.
The Tom Tutty Memorial Scholarship is presented each year to a graduating senior who best exemplifies my dad. The recipient must participate in athletics in some way, as well as demonstrate the following criteria:
Care and concern for others
Sportsmanship and good humor
Dedication and loyalty to Butte High
Citizenship in and out of school
And must be attending school in the fall
The recipient this year competed and exceled in multiple sports at Butte High, all while maintaining Academic All State. He is a kind, loving kid who gives his all in everything he does and will continue to excel in his college career. Kale McCarthy will receive a $500 to the school of his choice, which may cover a book or two!
He always said, “The sun will rise in the east tomorrow.” Well dad, 8,915 suns have risen without you, but hopefully this scholarship helps your legacy live on! 1 comment