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Sam Butcher. Image: Precious Moments.

Precious Moments creator dies at age 85

Sam Butcher, the Christian artist and entrepreneur who created Precious Moments figurines, died on Monday at age 85. “In his final words he shared that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were with him and that it was beautiful,” the company posted on Facebook.

Butcher began drawing for family and friends, commercializing his artwork in 1975, according to the Precious Moments website. Precious Moments porcelain figurines officially became available for purchase in 1978, three years after the artwork first appeared on greeting cards and inspirational posters. Millions of people have come to know Butcher’s work since then, collecting his pieces and visiting the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage, Mo .

“Although the sorrow is great, it is our prayer that the appreciation and celebration of his legacy be even greater — the legacy of his glory-filled life, the countless blessings he bestowed upon the millions of lives he touched and the incredible fulfillment of his life’s mission: to share God’s gift of love with the world,” the company’s post said, according to “USA Today.”

Butcher spent most of his childhood putting his ideas on a page, drawing and sketching under his family’s dining room table in the northern California city of Redding. He was the third of five children, who were all born into a “very poor” family, according to his bio on the Precious Moments website. Family members recognized Butcher’s artistic ability early but were unable to purchase drawing materials for him to use. Despite his family’s financial limitations, Butcher found a way to draw anyway.

Some of Butcher’s favorite moments growing up involved his grandmother, who told him Bible stories, the bio said. “He always had a deep interest in spiritual things and even from his early childhood, he painted scenes from the Bible,” it said. He decided he was going to use his artistic ability to “only serve the Lord” after a lifechanging night at church, enrolling at College of Arts & Crafts in Berkeley, Calif., after high school graduation.

Butcher moved back to his native Michigan, marrying his high school sweetheart and taking a job in a shipping department of Child Evangelism Fellowship. He eventually was moved to the art department. He worked as a story illustrator on children’s television program for several years, using “teardrop-eyed images to tell stories.”

Butcher remained a “quiet family man” despite becoming one of America’s most beloved artists. “Nothing means more to him than his children and grandchildren as he takes advantage of every opportunity to make them an active part of his life and his work,” the bio said.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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