BUTLER, NJ – Sparta’s Robert and Shirley Nicholson, alumni of Butler High School, donated statue of the school’s mascot, a six foot bronze bulldog proudly standing on three books labeled Pride, Tradition and Excellence. Robert, class of 1945 and Shirley nee Kitchell, class of 1949 made the donation on behalf of their whole family.
At the October ceremony, Robert was joined by three of their four children; Debra Lynn Nicholson-Marcellus, Linda Nicholson McRoy and Robert Bruce Nicholson III. Due to health reasons Shirley Nicholson was unable to attend the dedication ceremony.
Also in attendance were member of the Butler High School Board of Education members, Boro representatives, Superintendent of school and several 1940’s BHS alumni.
Butler High School Principal Martin Wall opened the ceremony welcoming everyone and thanking those involved with helping with the arrangements for the dedication ceremony. Wall included a special recognition for a local contractor and family attendee of Butler High School who donated their talents and materials to create the beautiful courtyard setting of a winding paver sidewalk, paving stone for the bulldog and a retaining wall with a background of shrubbery.
Wall went on to give a brief history on how the project came to light from an old photograph of a bulldog mascot on a pile of books, found three years ago by BHS athletic director, David Doty.
“What was special about this statue in the photograph, was the books. The books serve as a reminder that you need both physical and intellectual preparation to be most successful in life,” said Wall. “Without a doubt the gentle and stately temperament of a bulldog, combined with great stamina, strength and relentless persistence based upon a firm educational foundation is a great recipe for success in life.”
Nicholson became involved in the project about two years ago, when planning for the inaugural induction of honorees to the Butler High School Hall of Fame.
Nicholson said, “The statue is dedicated to the students of Butler High School and to those who choose to inspire others in their pursuit of excellence. Shirley and I and our family wanted to thank everyone associated with Butler High School, which was the foundation of my successes today.”
After graduating from Butler High School, Nicholson went on to have a successful business career, helping build his family owned business Eastern Propane Corporation, now the largest distributor of propane in the state. He was also co-founder of Lakeland Bank, which today has over 60 branches throughout New Jersey.
The Nicholson’s will always hold Butler High School close to their hearts, “which did so much to mold us and enable us to become what we were destined to be. They hope “seeing the bulldog every day in the BHS courtyard, will be an inspiration of pursuit of excellence in life to the students and future generations passing through the halls of Butler High School.”