Sam Butcher, creator of Precious Moments, dies at 85

Sam Butcher at the Precious Moments Chapel.

The founder and artist behind the Precious Moments collectibles, Samuel Butcher, has died at the age of 85.

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Precious Moments said that Butcher died Monday surrounded by loved ones at his house in Carthage, Missouri.

The company said that Butcher’s life mission was “to share God’s gift of love with the world,” according to The Washington Post.

Information about Butcher’s death has not been released, according to the newspaper.

Butcher was born on Jan. 1, 1939, in Jackson, Missouri, according to an online obituary. He spent hours writing and drawing when he was growing up. His family later moved to Northern California and he went to college with a scholarship at the College of Arts and Crafts in Berkeley.

He met his wife, Katie Cushman, during his senior year of high school and kept in contact with her while he went to college. They got married in 1959. Their first child, Jon, was born in 1962, the online obituary said. The couple went on to have six more children, including one that they had adopted.

In 1970, Butcher became a storyteller for CEEG’s national television program called “The Treehouse Club” where he would tell a Bible story and proceed to draw it, Precious Moments said. His work inspired him to create a company called Jonathan & David, Inc. a few years later which ultimately became Precious Moments.

The first Precious Moments figurine, called “Love One Another,” was created. Then, 21 others were created and released in 1978. Soon after, those figures hit store shelves nationwide, leading to the creation of the Precious Moments Collectors’ Club, Precious Moments said.

In 1984, Butcher bought land and built a chapel. The chapel was complete with one of his murals, the company said.

The figurines are made of porcelain, according to USA Today. They depict angelic, teardropped-eyed children, according to the Post.

Precious Moments continues to be run today by his children, Don, Jon and Deb, with master sculptor Hiko Maeda.

Butcher leaves behind children Jon, Tammy, Debbie, Dan and Heather. He also leaves behind 53 grand and great-grandchildren, according to Precious Moments. His wife, Katie, and sons Phillip and Timothy passed away before he did.

A Precious Moments figurine, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” will be created in honor of Butcher and is expected to be released down the road. A release date has not been determined.

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