December 20, 2006 Edition

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Butlers to give $500,000
toward Williams housing

Williams Baptist College President Jerol Swaim (third from left) thanks members of the Butler family (from left): Jim Jim and Lois Butler, Jim Tom and Connie Belle Butler and Melanie and Rhett Butler for their gift to WBC.

A half-million dollar gift from a Harrisburg family is going to help build housing for honor students at Williams Baptist College. WBC has announced that the family of Jim Tom Butler is giving $500,000 toward the construction project.

"The Butlers are helping WBC take a major step forward with this magnificent gift," said Williams President Jerol Swaim. "Additional student housing is one of our most critical needs, and their generosity enables us to launch construction of a new housing facility."

The gift will come to Williams through the Butler Charitable Foundation, which is administered by Butler, his wife, Connie Belle, and their children: Jim Jim and Lois Butler, and Rhett and Melanie Butler. All live at Harrisburg.

Jim Tom Butler said the family's support of WBC began several decades ago with his father, R.W. Butler. "When I was a youngster, Daddy and Dr. Williams were friends. When he went to meet with Dr. Williams in Walnut Ridge or Little Rock he took me along," Butler recalled.

He said he wanted to carry on his father's support after the elder Butler passed away a few years ago. "I came to realize I was at those meetings for a reason. It was the purpose of the Lord, and I felt led to be involved with the college," Butler said.

Butler, who is a member of the WBC Board of Trustees, recommended to his family that they help fund the new student housing project at Williams, and they concurred that it was a worthy investment.

"The Lord has blessed us beyond our comprehension, and this is money well spent," Butler said. "What I have given to the Lord and His works, I have never missed a penny of it."

Swaim said plans for the construction project are still being finalized, and they will be announced in coming weeks. "We are developing plans for housing that will involve suites for honor students. It is not like conventional dormitory housing," he said.

"One of the most significant changes we have seen at Williams over the last decade or so is that the college is attracting students from a much broader area, and that means our needs for housing have continued to increase. This project helps us meet that growing need," Swaim commented.

The president noted that the cost of construction will exceed the half-million dollar mark, and WBC is seeking additional gifts to fund the project. He said construction could begin as early as this summer.

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