Sam Butcher

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For the EastEnders character, see Sam Butcher (EastEnders).
For other people named Samuel Butcher, see Samuel Butcher (disambiguation).
Sam Butcher
Born Samuel John Butcher
(1939-01-01) January 1, 1939 (age 76)
Jackson, Michigan, United States of America
Nationality American
Other names Sam
Known for Precious Moments
Religion Roman Catholic[citation needed]
Spouse(s) Kathie Yott Butcher
Children Jon Butcher
Phillip Butcher (deceased)
Timothy Butcher (deceased)

Samuel John "Sam" Butcher (born January 1, 1939) is an American artist. He is mainly known as the artist behind the Precious Moments brand of characters based on American-Christian themes. He draws in oil, water-color, acrylic, and mixed-media.


Butcher was born in Jackson, Michigan, on January 1, 1939. He was the third of five children born to a poor family. Soon after his birth, the family moved to Redding, California.[1]

As a young man, Butcher was a "chalkboard minister," spreading the teachings of Christianity through illustrations. This job paid very little, so he supplemented his income as a janitor.

With the guide of Reverend Royal Blue, Butcher made the decision to follow deeper into Christianity. He joined the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. There he met Bill Biel, with whom he would start his first business, Jonathan & David (J&D). During his ten year career with the CEF, Butcher's work was seen by millions of people through the "Tree House Club" television programs.[2]

Precious Moments[edit]

In 1974 he created Precious Moments drawings for J&D, which was introduced to the market a year later. Before that, Butcher created many other works, from kitsch oil-paintings to comic strips. These works can be observed at the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage, Missouri.

Some time before 1978, Sam met Eugene Freedman at a Christian trade show in Los Angeles, California.[3]

The three major products carried by J&D were greeting cards, porcelain figurines, and vinyl dolls. J&D sourced its vinyl dolls in Asia, leading Sam to fall in love with the Philippines. In 1981 Butcher and Biel traveled to The Philippines, where they gave financial assistance to a Bible college.[1]

It was after that time that Butcher and Biel went separate ways. J&D relinquished its greeting card business, passed its porcelain products to Enesco, and abruptly stopped producing vinyl dolls. The doll business would be reborn as Precious Moments Country Dolls in 1989 - renamed Precious Moments Company Dolls in 1992.[4]

With the success of the Precious Moments series, Butcher founded the Samuel J. Butcher Foundation and Precious Moments, Inc.[5] In 1989, he completed the construction of the Precious Moments Chapel. He privately funded the purchase of land on an island near Manila (Sampaguita Gardens in Aklan), and built a resort. Through this resort Butcher provides employment and training opportunities for people from Aklan and students from other provinces in Western Visayas.

Later he moved to St. Charles, Illinois and lived with his children.

Butcher began to spend more time at his resort in The Philippines as the success of Precious Moments rose. At the height of popularity, Butcher fell ill due to strokes brought on by self-medicating - his children brought him back to the States, where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and treated. He then returned to the Philippines.[6]

Death of his sons[edit]

While Butcher was in The Philippines, his 27-year-old son Phillip was killed. Butcher turned inward, started drinking heavily, and could not pursue his interests in art.[7]

Butcher dealt with his grief by returning to art. He worked tirelessly day and night on paintings in what is now called Phillip's Room at the Chapel. According to Chapel employees who watched Butcher, "it was as though he was possessed by depression and anger. Finally, his body and mind could take it no more. Sam broke down, and stopped."[citation needed]

Butcher's children urged their father to take better care of himself, and took over all business responsibilities at PMI. Butcher left for The Philippines for an extended period.

On October 14, 2012, his son Tim Butcher, the inspiration for many Precious Moments pieces, died.[8]

From 2012[edit]

As of 2012 Sam Butcher resided in The Philippines and his sons Jon and Don controlled PMI and most of his artistic assets.

Butcher makes appearances at the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage during the summer for Precious Moments Family Reunion events.


  1. ^ a b How We Started: Samuel J. Butcher's Story. July 1, 2005).
  2. ^ PMC 2005
  3. ^
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ Moments: the official publication of the Precious Moments Collectors' Club by PMI. October 2005.
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ "We Need Not Walk Alone". TCF Magazine Special Anniversary Edition. Loder, Wayne. 1999. (retrieved March 14, 2006).
  8. ^

External links[edit]