Giving It All
“If it will save one little girl, it will be worth it all – everything I own,” says Jim Butler with conviction. Mr. Butler is referring to the planned gift he and his wife, Peggy, have made to benefit the Baptist Home for Girls at Madill. Mr. and Mrs. Butler have no children and are giving their entire estate to help the Madill campus of Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children.
“I’m giving everything,” says Jim, a master carpenter who has been in the cabinet business since 1967. “Everything” includes a 300-acre ranch, their home, woodworking shop, vehicles, livestock trailers, trucks, and cabinetmaking machinery. He adds, “There are just a few personal items Peggy is leaving to her niece, but all of my stuff is going to the Baptist Home for Girls. The good Lord gave it to me, so I thought I would just give it right back. He just let me use it a little while, while I was here.”
Jim and Peggy were sixth grade sweethearts, and have been married for 35 years. They moved to Oklahoma from Virginia in 1999 and live on their ranch near Kingston. They love Oklahoma, and Jim says, “I wish we would have moved here sooner. We’re thankful that God brought us here and that He had a purpose.”
Jim says, “The Lord has blessed me.” When Jim came out of the military, he didn’t have anything. “My dad died a few months before I got out. When I came home to talk to my mother, she had not finished paying off the funeral bills. I had saved $400 in saving bonds while in the military. I flipped them across the table, and when I got up, I couldn’t buy a Coca-cola.”
Jim continues, “I went to work the next day and had to borrow a hammer, a tape measure, and a square just to get started at $2.25 an hour. I was 21 or 22.” Jim married Peggy a year later. Jim says, “I was so poor that when the man said the marriage license would be seven dollars, I reached in my pocket and pulled out three; Peggy had to put in four. I say all of that just to say that God has blessed me. I had to work hard for what I have, but God gave me the energy.”
The Butlers became aware of the ministry of the Baptist Home for Girls through their acquaintance with Gayle Buck. They met Gayle at a livestock show and at that time Gayle was the development representative for the Home, They started attending campus functions like the stock shows, campus meals, picnics, and style shows.
Jim played Santa last year for the campus. “I didn’t dress up; I played Santa financially. I just made sure there were gifts for the girls and that no one was left out.” The Butlers also provide financial support for the campus on a monthly basis.
About five years ago, Jim and Peggy were at a supper where they heard a presentation by Neal Wooldridge, Vice President for Planned Giving with Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children. Jim says, “I realized I’m not going to live forever. I knew that if Peggy and I died, our estate would be a total mess. I didn’t want any fussing or fighting over it, and I didn’t want it wasted. The good Lord gave it to me, so I thought I would give it back.”
Neal Wooldridge and Jim King, an attorney working with The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma, helped Jim and Peggy prepare the documents. They prepared a revocable trust, pour/over wills, living wills, and durable power attorney.
The Butlers see God at work in their relationship with the Home, from meeting Gayle Buck to making their estate plans with The Baptist Foundation. Jim says, “Everything just fell into place. It was more than coincidence, it was Providence.”
Mr. Butler says, “It’s a good feeling to know that everything is taken care of; all the details are done and over with. We like the idea that our estate will be giving continually; it never stops. And I can’t think of a better place for it to go. We want to see it go to good use, and like I said, if it helps one little girl, it will be worth it all.”
Jim adds, “Actually, if Peggy and I had our way, we would not share this story with anyone but the Lord, but if this story will encourage someone else to share the blessings God has given them, and it will make a difference in the lives of children, it will be worth it to tell the story.