For nearly 40 years, there have been three constants for Butler
Athletics: the purple uniforms, the Grizzlies mascot and the
support of Dr. Larry Abraham.
Doc, as he is known by those in El Dorado and on the Butler campus, has been a donor and team doctor since 1974. He has helped heal thousands of Butler athletes, been inducted into the Grizzly Athletic Hall of Fame twice and along with his wife, Judy, has supported every athletic initiative available, becoming the most prolific individual donor in the history of Butler Athletics.
“Dr Abraham is a legend,” says Butler Athletic
Director and long-time friend Todd Carter. “He has been the
number one contributor for the last 30 years. Without his and
Judy’s support, not only financially, but through his
practice, we wouldn’t be where were are today.”
Doc grew up in Wichita, attending West High School and Wichita State before going to podiatry school in Chicago. He returned to Kansas to set up a practice in El Dorado in 1973. A year later, he was invited to a meeting of the Butler booster club. The next year, he joined the club and became a team doctor. From that time on, Butler's is the only athletic program he has financially supported.
"Even though I didn’t go to school at Butler, this is where I live and practice podiatry," Abraham said. "I’m going to support one institution and I decided this is the one I’m going to continually support."
Doc’s support has been tied to service as well as financial contributions. He served for many years as president of the booster club, which is now known as the GrizzlyBackers. He also was the voice of Butler basketball for years, manning the mic during games in the heyday of success in that sport under Randy Smithson.
He is evident throughout the athletic facilities on the El Dorado campus. His first capital campaign project was the construction of the Sports Medicine Center in the lower level of the gymnasium building in 1988 (25 years later, he has underwritten a remodel of that complex). Since then, he has funded locker rooms for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams that many NCAA Division I programs would like to have. He also purchased a luxury suite in the new football stadium and helped fund both phases of construction in the Hubbard Champions Training Center. In fact, the reception/trophy room in the new football complex is named for the Abrahams for their contribution to the project.
“We have to keep up with other schools. If you don’t, you’ll get lost when it comes to recruiting,” Abraham said. “I think when other schools see what we have now, they’ll always try to do something to match it, but I’m not sure they can top some of the stuff we have. That’s only way we can stay competitive and I think we have, since things are being done and not just let sit. That makes a big difference. We have to keep that up if we’re going to stay competitive.”
Abraham has been most visibly involved with the football and men’s basketball programs, but he has given money to other sports, such as soccer, baseball and softball. He also created an endowed fund for athletic scholarships that benefit all of Butler’s athletic teams.
As a way of expressing thanks for his decades of support, the floor inside the Power Plant is now known as Dr. Larry Abraham Court.
“I’m very proud of that,” Abraham said. “I was very humbled that they did that for me, so I can see my accomplishments recognized while I can still enjoy it.”
Abraham even has an award named after him. It is given annually at the President’s Club dinner in the fall to honor someone who exemplifies what it means to wholeheartedly support Butler’s athletic programs. The first winner was Jerry and Linda Manderino, followed by Phil and Sheila Johnson. This year’s recipients were Ray and Jackie Vietti.
“I believe the recipients all have deserved it very much and we hope to carry that tradition on,” Abraham said.
Abraham says working with the people at Butler has been the biggest reason he has stayed involved throughout the decades.
“I just enjoy it. I enjoy the people out here,” Abraham said. “The people who work in athletics and administration, we have a very good relationship. They’re good people. They’re honest people. We try to do things the right way, to help the kids. I enjoy working with the kids.