LILLIAN BUTTS WRIGHT
1936 – 2021
Loved, Respected, and Adored
Lillian Butts Wright, a gentle, sweet-spoken woman whose love for her Baptist church was exceeded only by her love for her family, passed peacefully into the loving arms of Jesus at her home in Milledgeville, GA—her children at her side. Lillian transitioned from earth to Heaven to sit at the right hand of Jesus on Saturday, November 27, 2021. She was 85.
Born November 11, 1936, in Baldwin County, GA, Lillian was the youngest of eleven children of Lila Macklin Butts (1896-1978) and Tullie Butts, Sr. (1892-1977), both native residents of Hancock County. While Tullie worked, Lila cared for their expanding brood. Times were hard, but the church-going family remained close all their lives. Lillian, especially, learned that caring for others was the finest expression of love.
Determined to care for her children
Lillian married Edward Wright Sr. on December 26th, 1951, and they had three children, Edward in 1953 and Joyce in 1954. The Wrights lived on their paternal grandfather’s 100-acre farm. In 1961, Lillian purchased a home for the young family, located within a block of her mother and father’s home. Marvin came along in 1963.
Sadly, Edward Sr. suffered from PTSD due to his US Army service in the Korean War, and the marriage deteriorated in 1965. Marvin was a toddler, Edward and Joyce 10 and 11-years old when their dad moved out. Lillian—determined to take care of her children—supported them by working domestic jobs. In 1961, she obtained employment at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville. A devoted employee, she retired from Central State, in 1995, as a Principal Health Service Technician after 34 years of service.
When her health began to fail in 2015, Lillian’s daughter Joyce came to help with her mom. True, the house was small, but all Joyce could think of was how their home bloomed large with love when she and her brothers were growing up. By working hard, Lillian always yearned to build a structured life for her children so as to ensure they would always have a place to come home to.
Joyous family occasions
Sunday dinners at Lillian’s were joyous family occasions, nieces and nephews always dropping by to sample the menu. An extraordinary cook, Lillian took special pains on holidays, her strawberry pie, sweet potato pie, and pecan pie legendary. She made everything, including pies and cakes, mostly from scratch. She put up the Christmas decorations, wrapped all the presents, and put them under the tree. She never forgot birthdays, including those of her siblings. Scrupulous about keeping a spotless home, Lillian “never went to bed with a dirty dish in the sink,” her daughter said. She loved her family unconditionally, adored cooking for them, and always prayed for them.
Although she worked at the hospital, Lillian made the house a home for her three children. She would do the laundry minus a washer and dryer and fix breakfast and dinner every day. She also taught the kids to make their own beds, take out the trash and wash dishes. By Lillian’s example, her children learned to always be grateful and to pray. She was a friend, a trusted confidant, a comforter, and a disciplinarian. The small home she lived in for over 50 years was a testament to her disciplined work ethic and dedication to maintaining a strong family life.
The Vaughn Chapel Baptist Church played a huge part in Lillian’s life. She remained active as a Deaconess, serving in the Benevolent Club until 2015 when her health declined. In attendance since early childhood, she witnessed the following pastors preside: Rev Hudson 1929-1959, Rev JJ Jordan 1959-1976, Rev Nehemiah Collins 1976-2006, and Rev Tony Fraley to present. Her one passion was for the church to create its own cemetery.
Her precious Bible
In her spare time, Lillian enjoyed Lifetime movies, crossword puzzles, and spending time with her children and grandchildren. Her love for and dedication to her children and their families was heartwarming and exemplary. She would regularly visit their homes and was always ready to make a meal or to come to their aid when needed. Characterized by her sweet nature and disciplined work ethic, Lillian demonstrated loving compassion and support for her entire extended family. A good neighbor, coworker, and friend, she remained committed to staying in close touch with her siblings, even though several had moved away. Her love for her family was unquestionable.
After retiring in 1995 and looking forward to traveling and spending quality time with her children and grands, she graciously accepted the role of caretaker for her older sister Vanglee Butts Moore. And on many occasions, she would travel to Detroit, MI to help care for her sister Carrie Butts-Williams Anderson. Her sister Georgia Butts Arnold, while living nearby, battled an illness in her later life, and Lillian often cooked her meals and cared for her. (Georgia especially loved Lillian’s homemade Banana Pudding.)
She cared for everybody
Although Lillian retained a special bond with all her siblings, she felt an exceptional kinship with Cora Butts Rozier, her only surviving sibling, until 2018. The two enjoyed regular visits, and daily phone calls were routine.
Lillian also excelled at being a grandmother and great-grandmother.
She helped care for Joyce’s son Eric, while her daughter worked and when Eric was ill. She cared for everybody. “I don’t know how we would have managed without her,” Joyce said. “We want to thank her for her supreme sacrifices because she is the one person who deserves it the most. We love Mom and thank her for loving us.” She then added, “It is comforting to know that we will meet again when we enter the kingdom of God.”
Lillian endured two bouts with cancer, one in 2015 and another in 2017. That she remained hopeful and positive during these difficult times is an understatement. Then, in 2019, a stroke limited her speech and mobility, resulting in her decline. Her infinite spirit and enduring faith allowed her to demonstrate gratitude and light until the end.
Daughter Joyce recalled her own reaction when the doctor told her that her mom had cancer. “But God reassured me of his love and calmed my broken heart,” she said, quoting Psalm 36:5, NIV. “Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.”
The day of her passing, Lillian heard her son Edward Jr’s voice on the phone, telling her he loved her. She smiled.
That same night, Joyce was holding her mother’s hand when Lillian opened her eyes as Marvin entered the room. She again closed her eyes and, once again, had a smile on her face. Her chest no longer moved up and down. There was perfect peace.
Along with daughter Joyce, Lillian’s sons, Marvin and Edward Jr., were truly devoted to caring for their mom and insuring she was OK. They loved, respected, and admired her, as did her grandsons Eric and Corico. Great grandsons, Ahleer and Xyon, added immeasurable joy to her life as well. To say Lillian will be missed is an understatement.
Lillian was especially fond of the verse from Matthew 25:35-40, NIV: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Lillian was predeceased by her four sisters, Vanglee Butts Moore (1915-2008), Georgia Butts Arnold (1923-2015), Carrie Butts-Williams Anderson (1930-2014), and Cora Butts Rozier (1934-2018); her six brothers, Sollie Butts (1918-2016), Henry Butts (1916-2006), Tullie Butts Jr. (1921-1980), Willie Butts (1925-1989), Charlie Butts (1927-1985), and Elijah Butts (1932-1978).
Lillian leaves lots of love and memories to her three children, Edward Wright Jr., Joyce Wright, and Marvin Wright, who have been strongly committed to her loving care; two grandsons, Eric and Corico (Javaria), and two great-grandsons, Ahleer and Xyon.
Adrick Ingram of Dawson Mortuary is in charge of the arrangements. A public viewing is scheduled for Thursday, December 2nd, from 4-6 PM, at Slaters Funeral Home, 244 N Wayne St., Milledgeville GA 31061. Please join the family in honoring the life of Lillian Butts Wright by posting your tributes and memories in the Comment section below.
A private graveside service will be at Baldwin Memorial Gardens. The Burial/Committal will be for the immediate family.
Two poems Lillian loved:
Authors of both Unknown
Our destination is a place,
Far greater than we know.
For some the journey’s quicker,
For some the journey’s slow.
And when the journey finally ends,
We’ll claim a great reward
And find an everlasting peace,
Together with the Lord.
When my life is finally measured in months, weeks, days, hours—
I want to live free of pain, free of indignity, free from loneliness.
Give me shelter, give me your hand, give me your care,
give me your understanding, give me your love.
Then let me go peacefully and help my family to understand.