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Leonard (Butch) Levy papers

Identifier: umja0022

Scope and Content

This collection consists of correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, and ephemeral materials such as programs, ticket stubs, and telegrams. There is one oversized scrapbook that has numerous newspaper clippings as well as photographs. All materials date between 1936 and 1994, with the bulk of the materials from the 1940s.


  • 1936-1994
  • Majority of material found within 1941-1946


Use of Materials

Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives; please contact the archives for more detailed copyright information.

Historical Note

On February 19, 1921 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Leonard Bernard "Butch" Levy was born to Abraham Levy and Rose Shapiro; his grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania and Russia. From an early age, Butch Levy was an all-around athlete; during his time at Minneapolis West High School he earned 12 letters in football, hockey, wrestling, and baseball, winning the 1937 and 1938 Minnesota State Hevyweight and Northwest AAU wrestling championships. Butch went on to the University of Minnesota to study economics and continued with athletics -- he was on the undefeated 1940 and 1941 Golden Gophers football teams where he earned All-America honors as defensive tackle and guard, was AP All-Western Conference First Team in 1941, and played as part of the college all star game in 1942. He also continued with wrestling, winning the NCAA hevyweight title in 1941 and the NAAU hevyweight title in 1942. Upon his graduation, Butch was the number one draft pick of the NFL Cleveland Rams; he instead chose to serve three years in the US Navy in the World War II from 1942-1945, despite being initially turned away due to poor eyesight.

While serving in the miliary, Butch met his wife, Loretta "Lucky" Bellson, daughter of Julius and Jean Bellson. A native of Hamburg, Germany, her family had escaped Nazi Germany in 1939 and resided in Minneapolis. Butch and Loretta married in 1944; they eventually had one daughter and two sons. The year they married Loretta's oldest brother, Peter Hans Bellson, died in the the Battle of the Bulge.

After World War II Butch returned to football. He played again for the NFL Cleveland Rams, who in 1946 became the Los Angeles Rams. In 1947 Butch played one season for the then-new AAFC Los Angeles Dons. Afterwards Butch continued with professional wrestling until 1956, eventually retiring from sports to a successful career as an insurance agent and securities salesman. Loretta passed away in 1997 and Butch succumbed to cancer in 1999.


1.34 Cubic Feet (2 boxes -- 1 tall Hollinger, 1 oversize box)

Language of Materials



Leonard "Butch" Levy was a Jewish athlete from Minneapolis involved in wrestling and football at the University of Minnesota before going on to play professional football in the 1940s; his papers document his family in Minneapolis, his time as a student athlete, his service in the United States Navy during World War II, and his time playing football for the NFL Cleveland Rams and the AAFC Los Angeles Dons.

Source of acquisition

Materials donated to the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest by Leonard Levy's son Peter Levy in 2006.

Related Materials

A few photographs of Leonard (Butch) Levy can be found in our digital collection, UMedia Archives. Search for the following photographs:

-- Leonard "Butch" Levy in his Navy uniform

-- Peter Bellman, Loretta "Lucky" Bellman, and Butch Levy

Further photographs can be found in the Sharron and Oren Steinfeldt Photograph Collection.

Leonard (Butch) Levy papers, 1936-1994
Finding aid created by Kate Dietrick
October 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Upper Midwest Jewish Archives Collecting Area