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John C. "Butch" Gleason, 66, sales manager for Phillip Morris

He was a teacher, basketball coach and sports broadcaster.

John C. Gleason
John C. GleasonRead more

IN THE MANY years that John Bucci Jr. has been serving up his famous pork sandwiches at John's Roast Pork in South Philadelphia, he's made up many an order "to go."

But not this far.

Last week, a customer came in with an unusual order. His father was a devoted fan of John's roast pork sandwiches, and he wanted to take one with him.

Where John C. "Butch" Gleason was going was a place where you wouldn't expect roast pork sandwiches to dwell - but who knows?

Butch, a longtime salesman, teacher, basketball coach and broadcaster, died Dec. 8. He had told his family, "The day I die, promise me you'll put one of his sandwiches in my casket."

And so son Matthew went to John's on Snyder Avenue and made the request. Ever agreeable to his customers' whims, John Bucci made up a pork sandwich, loaded with sharp provolone and spinach, packed it up and added a message, "To Butch from John Jr. 'RIP.' "

The family froze it until the funeral.

"He's up in heaven right now telling everybody, 'John autographed a sandwich for me,' " another son, John, told

Butch Gleason was a 28-year employee of Philip Morris USA, rising to the rank of sales manager, and a longtime teacher, basketball coach and radio broadcaster in Philadelphia and South Jersey.

He died of ongoing cardiac problems at age 66. He was living in Marlton, N.J., and previously had lived in Ocean City, N.J.

Butch was most proud of having started the Coaches vs. Cancer Game at his alma mater, Ocean City High School, that has raised nearly $10,000 for cancer research in the five years of its existence.

The program is a collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Benefit games are held around the country.

Butch was born in Philadelphia, but his family moved to Ocean City when he was a child. He graduated from Ocean City High School, where he was an outstanding athlete, in 1966.

He was a sophomore member of the 1964 Group II State Championship basketball team.

After earning a bachelor's degree in business administration at La Salle University, he taught business classes at West Deptford High School and coached basketball there and at Glassboro State College, now Rowan University.

Butch went to work in sales for Philip Morris in 1976 and rose through the ranks to managerial positions until his retirement in 2004.

"He successfully managed and mentored scores of sales representatives during his career and was widely viewed as an exceptional business leader with terrific business acumen and great compassion," his family wrote in a tribute.

Butch was a part-time sports broadcaster on radio station WOND-AM in Philadelphia and South Jersey for more than four decades. He was a regular reporter for years at Flyers games, and covered his last high school game on Oct. 24 at Carey Stadium in Ocean City.

Since his retirement from Philip Morris, Butch had enjoyed traveling around the country with his son Matthew, visiting football and baseball stadiums - "and sampling the local cuisine in those areas," his family said.

A highlight was their visit to the Red River Rivalry in Dallas for a Texas-Oklahoma football game in 2009.

Butch was a lifelong supporter of the Cape Atlantic League sports program and enjoyed following the careers of its athletes, most recently Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, a native of Millville, N.J.

He married Denise O'Dowd 40 years ago.

Besides his wife and sons, he is survived by a daughter, Melissa; a sister, Margaret "Meg" Gleason Herman, and a granddaughter.

Services: Were Saturday. Burial was at Ss. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Marple.

Donations in his memory may be made to Archbishop Damiano School, 1145 Delsea Drive, Westville Grove, NJ 08093.