By Tia Lynn Ivey
Morgan County is mourning the loss of another faithful community leader this week with the passing of Laura Butler, the president of the Morgan County branch of the NAACP.
“Laura Butler was such a great person because she believed in serving people,” said Morgan County Board of Commissioners Chairman Donald Harris. “You know, Jesus said the greatest among you must become a servant and she truly followed that. She spent most of her life trying to make this community a better place… She was a voice for voiceless. She never stopped standing up and speaking up for people’s rights.”
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Mrs. Laura Wilson Butler, a beloved colleague, mother and friend whom I’ve known for many years,” said Madison Mayor Fred Perriman. “The last decade Laura devoted herself wholeheartedly to the Morgan County Branch of the NAACP. We will always be eternally grateful for her loyal support, counsel, and the leadership she provided for his community. Laura was a good friend and a beloved member of the Madison Morgan County community. She was a strong leader who had a positive impact on our community. Laura leaves behind a long legacy of commitment to others and unwavering integrity. On behalf of the City of Madison Community, we extend our sincerest condolences to her family, friends and loved ones she leaves behind during this difficult time.”
Madison Councilwoman Chris Hodges also expressed her condolences over Butler’s passing.
“I am going to miss this lady,” wrote Hodges. “What a powerhouse. What a heart. Thanks for your lasting contributions. You made us better people in a better place.”
Laura Butler’s work in the community was honored at last year’s Living Legacy Gala, an event designed to honor the life and accomplishments of outstanding African-Americans in Morgan County through the Morgan County African-American Museum.
According to her bio, Butler, a lifelong native of Morgan County, lived a full life as she served as the matriarch of her and a dedicated community leader. She was the daughter the late Jesse and Viola Flounory Wilson, the seventh of nine children. Laura was married to the late Walter Curtis Butler Jr. To this union three children were born; Lavell Lemon, McDonough, Celeste (Jamond Sims), McDonough, Ga., and Walter Curtis III (Quiana) Butler, Madison. Laura was also the proud grandmother of Terry Lemon Jr., Jordan and Caleb Sims, Jaden and Brandon Butler and Christopher and Michael Evans. Laura was a graduate of Pearl High School in Madison. She continued her education by attending Athens Technical College, where she received her nursing certification. She also attended the University of Georgia, where she received her Early Childhood Development Certification. She received her leadership training from the National Division of the NAACP. She’s certified with the American Red Cross in disaster relief and she received her Management Certification from Young Yu Inc. in Augusta, Georgia.
Laura was a faithful and active member of Calvary Baptist Church in Madison, Georgia, where Rev. Hoke Smith is the pastor. She served as a member of Calvary’s Deaconess and Nursing Guild.
Laura relentlessly volunteered for the following organizations: American Cancer Society, Morgan County Head Start, Morgan County School System, Family Connections, Department of Family and Children Services and Morgan County Empty Stocking Fund. Laura was a loyal Missionary for Morgan County and the surrounding area. She served on the Morgan County Habitat for Family Support Board, Madison Order of Eastern Star #165, and a lifetime member of the Pearl/Burney Alumni. She also owned and operated “Ma Butler’s Day Care” in 2006.
Laura received numerous awards throughout her lifetime, including Mother of the Year at the Morgan County Head Start and Calvary Baptist Church, the President Award for outstanding service as President of Morgan County Branch of the NAACP, The Walter Curtis Butler, Jr. Leadership Award, 2008, NAACP Million Dollar Club for nine consecutive years, second runner-up for Queen of OES #165, 2005 NAACP 100 Club Winner for work done with membership drive, Henry County NAACP 2006 Woman of the Year Award, an award for her loyal and dedicated service to the Morgan County Branch of NAACP, Earl T. Shinhoster Award, Georgia State Conference President Award, Harriet and Harry T. Moore State Conference Award, 1997, Georgia Summit of African American Americans Business Organizations Supporter of the Year, Morgan County Outstanding Citizen, Southeast Conference Regional Director Award, Voter Empowerment Award, The Georgia Informer 2004 Top Fifty (Most Influential Black Men in Georgia), Outstanding Georgia Citizen Award from the Secretary of State and the Southeastern Regional NAACP Medgar W. Evers Award in 1999 and 2008.
One of Laura’s most fulfilling contributions was her job as President of the NAACP Morgan County Branch. She was elected President in 1998. As President, she assisted in training voters in electronic voting, organized Black History Parades, conducted voter registration drives, served on the Georgia State Conference NAACP Executive Committee, attended various marches, rallies and countless meetings to speak up for the concerns of citizens of Morgan County. She was the Honorary Youth Council Advisor and a lifetime Gold member of the NAACP.
“Laura Wilson Butler not only talks the talk but she demonstrates it in her walk. She is a phenomenal woman who is determined to stand up for the rights of others and spread the love of Christ abroad,” read a joint statement from the MCAAM last year while honoring Butler at the Living Legacy Gala.