Woman farmer Dorothy Butts dies at age 91

Published 12:04 pm Monday, June 21, 2010

EAGLE LAKE — Dorothy Graham Butts, a pacesetter among men and women farmers in Warren County for more than 30 years, died Sunday at her home at Eagle Lake. She was 91.

“She was a woman of simple living,” said her son, George Butts of Redwood. “She took on farming when my dad died in 1964 and farmed until her retirement in 1997.”

Mrs. Butts was born on May 5, 1919, to the late Lawrence and Robbie Graham at Milldale in Redwood.

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She graduated from Oak Ridge High School before marrying Leroy Butts. After his death, she operated their Eagle Lake farm that included raising cattle, corn, soybeans and cotton. About 10 years ago, George Butts said, his mother established a record for cotton yield in the county. Previous reports said she had the highest yield for three consecutive years.

“She defeated some of the best,” George Butts said. “Then those men started asking her questions.

“She was a strong woman with a strong mind,” he said. “Her farming operation was her life.”

Mrs. Butts participated in area farm organizations that include the Warren County committee of Mississippi Soil and Water Conservation Commission, the County Farmers Home Administration committee and Farm Bureau, of which she became the first woman in the state to be elected president. She had served on the board of each organization until her death.

“She was the strongest and most intelligent woman I have ever known,” said Mrs. Butts’ niece Margaret Schaeffer.

“Everyone in the family looked up to her,” Schaeffer said. “She was a good Christian woman. Blacks and whites alike adored her.”

The Buttses adopted George and his sister, Kathy Butts Terry, when they were 5 and 6 years old, said the 57-year-old George Butts.

“Her main focus was her family and her business,” he said. “She didn’t follow everybody’s mistakes. She listened a lot. She learned what not to do from other people.”

Mrs. Butts had served as president of the Eagle Lake community and served as a pianist and Sunday school teacher at Eagle Lake Methodist Church.

In addition to her two children, Mrs. Butts is survived by three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Services for Mrs. Butts are set for Wednesday at Riles Funeral Home.