Home Obituaries Obituary: Paul ‘Butcher’ Vachon,  Oct. 7, 1937 – Mar. 1, 2024

Obituary: Paul ‘Butcher’ Vachon,  Oct. 7, 1937 – Mar. 1, 2024

Paul Vachon with Fonda Perkins. Photo courtesy of Seven Days.
Written by Richard Sheir

On March 1, 2024, the world of professional wrestling lost one of its luminaries. The Central Vermont area lost more. It lost its beloved longtime Santa in the Berlin Mall during the holiday season. He was one in the same — Paul ‘Butcher’ Vachon. Paul died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 86 at his home in the small village of Mansonville, Quebec, approximately 15 minutes from a nearby border crossing into Vermont. 

Paul had been in ill health for some time. Years of hard falls in wrestling rings had taken their toll. 

In professional wrestling, Paul was principally known for his years-long work portraying  a villain along with his brother “Mad Dog” Maurice for the McMahon family in the WWWF that would later become the WWF and then WWE. His daughter Luna also wrestled for the McMahons. 

Paul was also one of Canada’s most influential wrestling promoters. He owned the Montreal promotion Grand Prix that held their matches at the legendary Montreal Forum. For years, Grand Prix wrestling was a staple of Quebec television. One of Paul’s most lasting contributions to popular culture was to bring André Rousseleau to Canada to wrestle in 1971. Known first as Frere André, he was named “André The Giant” by Paul. It was Paul who set his height at 7’4” and announced his home as “The French Alps.” It was Paul who introduced André to Vince McMahon Sr. and the rest is history.

Paul and his brother Mad Dog Maurice were tag team champions for 623 consecutive days in the AWA before the WWWF. Paul also wrestled extensively as a solo performer in Australia and New Zealand. His most noteworthy match was his “wedding” on WWF’s Tuesday Night Titans. Of course, it ended in a massive food fight. It currently has over 23,000 views on YouTube. 

Paul retired from wrestling in 1985 after 30 years in the business. He briefly entered politics in Quebec and was unsuccessful. Paul’s second act largely played out in Vermont, where he and his wife and constant companion, Dee, were fixtures at flea markets and county fairs, selling his autographed books, his “When Wrestling Was Real” t-shirts, and an assortment of knick knacks. All day long, Paul was engaged in friendly chats. He was one of the most likable people in a state filled with likable people. 

It seemed inevitable that Paul would find his true calling as Santa Claus at the nearby Berlin Mall. The twinkling eyes and ready smile that made conversation with Paul so easy was put to good use building instant rapport with children. Paul was a natural. He loved his time as Santa. Read more about his time as Berlin Mall’s Santa at sevendaysvt.com/arts-culture/former-wrestler-paul-vachon-makes-a-strong-santa-2295896

Paul Vachon wasn’t just another wrestling promoter. He was the very skilled promoter who introduced the world to André The Giant. Paul wasn’t just another wrestler. He was frequently on the largest wrestling stage of them all — Madison Square Garden. Paul wasn’t just another Santa in a mall. A generation of Central Vermont kids and their parents know better. He was one of the best mall Santas anywhere. My wife and I became friends with Paul for over a decade when he and Dee would set up their merch table at the mall during the holiday season. In recent years, Paul had stepped away from his Santa gig due to health reasons. The holiday season just doesn’t quite feel right without our Santa, Central Vermont’s Santa.