One woman’s commendable generosity

Published 9:28 pm Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The story was simple and concise. The quotes were heartfelt, emotional and sincere. And the impact to the community will no doubt be substantial.

Stories such as the one about the donations made from the estate of Miss Gertie Cleo Butler are never quite given their due. They are mentioned but hardly ever heralded.

With Wednesday’s front-page coverage of the four sizable donations to local charities, we hope to break that trend and celebrate the giving heart this Suffolk native had for her hometown and its charities.

Wednesday’s story led off perfectly, saying “Miss Gertie Cleo Butler led a full, if rather unremarkable, life.” But her final act of grace — choosing to have her estate split four ways and donated to four local charities, each receiving more than $190,000 — was remarkable. Her contributions to society in life may never have attracted attention, but the impact of her generosity in death cries out for that attention.

During this time of year, it is common for folks to be taken in by the spirit of giving. As the holiday season sets in, we often times feel obligated to give more at church, give food to area food banks or donate items to certain organizations.

Miss Butler’s example proves that the spirit of giving isn’t even limited by the life of the giver.

In today’s world, the need is great and the demands placed on charitable are the highest in a generation. They need our help and need it every day.

We look forward to the day when stories of generosity like the one about Miss Butler become commonplace in our city; nothing will say more about the kind people here.

So, today we celebrate the uncommon generosity of this Suffolkian and offer our prayers that her donations will offer comfort to those in need. If nothing else, her story has given us an example of how we can use our own resources to make an impact on our community.