Talmadge David Butler, retired music minister and professor, passed away peacefully on April 14, 2023, at the Bethany House in Opelika, Alabama, at the age of 88. He was a beloved father, grandfather, brother, and friend.
Talmadge was born on May 1, 1934, in Dothan, Alabama, and attended Howard University in Birmingham, Alabama. After graduation, he served in the Air Force in Biloxi, Mississippi, while also serving as a minister of music in Gulfport, Mississippi. It was there that he met his wife Laverne. They quickly fell in love and were married for 40 years.
After attending Golden Gate Seminary in Sacramento, California, and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana, he continued his ministry in various capacities over the years. Highlights include working for the Baptist Sunday School Board in Nashville, Tennessee, teaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and serving as music minister for several churches including Cottage Hill Baptist Church (Mobile, Alabama), Main Street Baptist Church (Hattiesburg, Mississippi). Eastland Baptist Church (Nashville, Tennessee), Memorial Baptist Church (Metairie, Louisiana), Gentilly Baptist Church (New Orleans, Louisiana), and Tabernacle Baptist Church (Macon, Georgia). After retiring from church ministry, he continued a lifetime of service through his work as a hospice chaplain with Wiregrass Hospice in Alabama.
Talmadge had a special way of making everyone feel like family. He was affectionately known as “PawPaw” by all who knew and loved him. He spread joy, made everyone feel special, and enjoyed showering people with treats. He had a soft spot for dogs and used to love walking his in the morning while they picked up neighbors’ newspapers and placed them at their doors. PawPaw never went to a gathering empty-handed. His arrival typically brought a warm hug and a box of Krispy Kreme donuts.
He supported his family and attended as many of their events as possible. Whether it was a track meet, dance recital, ball game, musical production, or graduation, PawPaw would do his best to be there. His whistle could be heard from the stands as he cheered for his loved ones. He had a talent for remembering every birthday, anniversary, and holiday. A card and a box of goodies, and decorations and infamous plastic party hat (that you HAD to wear) would arrive promptly before every birthday. He always loved to celebrate his family.
Talmadge is preceded in death by his parents, Thomas Wesley and Johnnie Mae Gay Butler, his infant son, Jonathan Butler, and his treasured wife, Laverne Newton Butler. He is survived by his children: David (Laura) Butler, Tamera (Trip) Garner, Celeste (Clint) Welch, and Ramona Mulkey; ten grandchildren: Addison Garner, Britney Butler, Jonathan (Holley) Butler, Emma (Hunter) Hardman, Ben Garner, Amelia Welch, Jackson Welch, Ruthie Mulkey, Luke Welch, and Reese Mulkey; and sisters: the late Ella Mae, Doris, Betty, Mary, Martha, and Lonelle. His family is confident and thankful that PawPaw is now celebrating in heaven in the presence of his Savior whom he loved so much.
Visitation will be held on Sunday, April 16, 2023, from 5:00-7:00 at Jeffcoat Trant Funeral Home in Opelika, Alabama. A celebration service will take place at First Baptist Church Opelika on Monday, April 17, 2023 at 9:00 AM. A burial service will follow, that afternoon at 2:30 CST at Memorial Park Cemetery, located at 3969 Mercer University Drive, Macon, Georgia.
We are grateful for the outpouring of love and kindness everyone has shown our family during his illness and death.
The Butler Family