Nearly two years ago this February, the magical voice of Paul Harvey chimed across television screens everywhere during Super Bowl XLVII. The radio legend’s proclamation stopped people in their tracks while his famous “So God Made a Farmer” speech played. In this 2013 Super Bowl commercial, Dodge Ram Trucks set major TV records by allowing Harvey’s voice to remind viewers what it means to be a farmer. Farmers do not often receive the credit they deserve, yet they remain humble and faithful to their crops and communities. There’s a farmer I know, and we call him “Papa.” This post is dedicated to him, William A. Butler of Bladenboro, North Carolina, from “the farmer in all of us.”
William Albert Butler was born on November 9, 1925 to Thurman and Myrtle Hilburn-Butler of Bladenboro. He married Louise Pait Butler on July 7, 1947 and they have been happily married, living in the same house on their 165-acre farm for 68 years. After helping my grandmother raise five children, ten grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, Papa continues to work on the farm at the young age of 89.
When World War II erupted, Papa went to join the army but officials told him enlisting was not an option. His services were needed to help grow crops, feed animals, and tend to local farms while their farmers were fighting in the war. Someone had to maintain the agriculture and make sure families were provided with fresh food and milk, and Papa was the right man for the job. He went on to owning and operating a dairy farm for 31 years, while also serving on the N.C. Dairy Herd Improvement Association Board for 10. Pretty impressive credentials.
Humble, steadfast, strong, selfless, benevolent, and honest are words that his children use to describe Papa, and I don’t think many people would disagree on these characteristics of him. He loves his community, the town of Bladenboro, and the farm that has raised ostriches, pigs, and cows over the years. Butler farm has opened the door for several elementary school field trips and community gatherings, making way for lessons that teach us about nature, the gift of life, and the true essence of hard work. Papa is a willing individual who has always followed the motto “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Papa Butler has achieved so much in his life; former Bladen County Commissioner, North Carolina State President of the Soil and Water Conservation Commission, 1995 Governor’s Award recipient for Outstanding Service in the Community, County, and State, and an Order of the Longleaf Pine recipient, among other accomplishments. Each of these honors are remarkable and represent years of service and commitment. However, what I love the most about Papa is the fact that faith and family are, in his eyes, the biggest awards he’s achieved. He’s the wealthiest man I know because of his wisdom, resilience, and faith. These are the makings of a true farmer; and I am so, beyond thankful, God made our farmer.