Key West mourns island icon Lofton "Coffee" Butler
Key Westers are mourning the loss of a musical icon. Lofton "Coffee" Butler died Tuesday. He was 93.
In December, Butler told the Miami Herald about how he got his start in music.
"I'm from a musical family," he said. "They had a piano in the house and I used to crawl up on it and play."
WLRN is committed to providing South Florida with trusted news and information. As the pandemic continues, our mission is as vital as ever. Your support makes it possible. Please donate today. Thank you.
He excelled at baseball, too, well enough to go pro. After serving in the Army during the Korean War, he returned home, married and started playing at local spots like the Hukilau.
And he'd play for weddings and funerals in the island's Black community.
"He would not charge a dime, he would just go around spending his time helping people in the community," his son Dennis Butler said. His father was also an avid fisherman, he said.
"We'd go out there and do some conching and catch fish. I remember him as a real good father. He taught us some good values. He taught us about the island," Dennis Butler said.
Coffee Butler had offers to go play bigger venues out of town, but he turned them down.
"He loved Key West so much, he wouldn't leave Key West," his son said.
Clayton Lopez, a cousin, said he heard a slightly different version of the story.
"He loved Key West more and — well, the stories I heard growing up is, he loved his wife more," Lopez said.
One of his signature songs was "The Beautiful Isle of Key West," written by another Key West musical icon, Ellen Welters Sanchez — who was also Butler's music teacher.
In 2020, the city of Key West named its new waterfront amphitheater for him.
A memorial is planned for Feb. 12, though the venue has not yet been determined.
"It will be appropriate on Valentine's weekend," Dennis Butler said. "He was a sweetheart."
Want to keep up with the latest stories out of the Florida Keys like this one? Sign up for The Tieline, our newsletter focused on all things Keys and Monroe County. The newsletter will arrive in your inbox twice a month and is written and curated by WLRN’s southernmost reporter Nancy Klingener. She shares her reporting, the latest news out of the Keys and much more. Head here to sign up.