Even in death, donor helping children
She never had the opportunity to nurture and care for any biological children. Her only child died just a few days after birth. Even so, Martha Littlefield Butcher lived her 73 years loving and helping many children and others.
Even after her death earlier this year, Butcher will still be helping take care of children for years to come, thanks to a very generous gift to the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries (ABCHomes). ABCHomes was a large beneficiary of Butcher’s estate.
“Martha Butcher’s life story is incredible, and her gift to ABCHomes is remarkable,” notes David Perry, ABCHomes executive director.
A longtime resident of Booneville, Ark., Butcher grew up on a ranch as the only and adopted child of the late W.C. and Emma Lou Littlefield. The Littlefields fell in love with Martha, whose biological family – the Houston’s - worked on their ranch. When the Houston family moved to another state, they agreed to let Martha stay behind with the Littlefields.
The Littlefields established the Littlefield Oil Company in 1946 in Booneville. Littlefield Oil started as a bay station, which served Logan County communities with car service and fuel. Not long after, however, the Littlefields realized that people in surrounding communities also needed a competitive fuel source. Today, Littlefield Oil Company now spans over parts of four states.
Butcher worked on her beloved Littlefield ranch her entire life. She married her late husband, Calvin “Mose” Butcher, April 5, 1963. Mose was a horse trainer. Their son, Walter Calvin Butcher, died when he was only a few days old.
Butcher was an active member of Glendale Baptist Church of Booneville for nearly 60 years. Until her battle with cancer took a toll on her last year, she taught children’s Sunday school, vacation Bible school and AWANA. The Glendale Church is a longtime supporter of ABCHomes.
Around the age of 13, she heard the gospel presented on a Billy Graham crusade she was watching on television. She committed her life to Christ and was baptized in the Washburn Narrows near Booneville.
“Martha was a humble giver who never wanted to be in the spotlight,” shared Jarrell Woodhull, pastor of Glendale Baptist Church. “None of us will ever know how much she gave to support this church and the work of the kingdom of God, but that’s the way she would have wanted it.
“It was evident that Martha loved the Lord and his church,” continued Woodhull. “She was a kind, caring person who showed concern for the needs of others in the church family. She was faithful in giving, in service, in attendance, and in overall support of the church.”
Cathy Littlefield, a close friend of Butcher, said that she was a “foster” mom to many. “Martha took many children under her wings. While she was quiet in her own way, she was also very kind and compassionate … She was the sister I never had.”
Butcher was known as “MawMaw” to Billy, Anita, Wesley and Dakota Fonseca, longtime and close family friends. Anita took care of Butcher during her battle with cancer. Youngsters Wesley and Dakota could often be found at their MawMaws’ side.
“She was very special to us,” shared Anita. “She thought of my kids as her grand babies … We miss her so much.”
Anita noted that her son, Wesley, still cries for his MawMaw. “He says I don’t cook right … She made ‘pink meat’ (salmon) for him,” shared Anita. “He wants her to play with him. She gave him chocolate milk and let him sleep in her bed.”
It is quite fitting, Anita said, that Butcher remembered ABCHomes in her estate planning. “Our church (Glendale) has taken up a monthly offering for the children’s home for years and Martha was a part of that … While she was very private, she was also very kind and generous.”