Howard E. Butt Jr., who dedicated his life to Christian causes and helping other people realize their true calling in whatever occupation they may be pursuing, passed away at the age of 89 on September 11 in San Antonio, Texas.
The cause of his death is related to complications from Parkinson's disease.
Butt was born into a business family which operated the H-E-B grocery chain, which now has over 350 stores, and was ranked as the 15th largest private company by Forbes in 2014. Butt was supposed to take over the family business as he was the oldest son, but he stepped back and devoted his life to work for church revivals and philanthropic work, while his younger brother Charles took up the position as the CEO, according to Wide Open Country.
He graduated from Baylor University with a business degree in 1947. At the university, Butt participated in a youth revival movement which inspired him to become a lay evangelist and he started preaching while still a student.
Butt worked in the family business as Vice President of the company, but in the 1960s he formally resigned from the position and took up a board role of vice chair to concentrate on ministry practice.
Nevertheless, even in his early working years at the company he made over 1,500 appearances as a motivational and evangelical speaker at various events.
He also formed Layman's Leadership Institute in collaboration with Billy Graham to guide business leaders about reconciling leadership, work, and faith.
In 1982, he became the president of the H.E. Butt Foundation which was founded by his mother Mary Holdsworth Butt in 1933.
The foundation's mission is to bring revival to the church, apart from running faith-based retreats, forums, and Christian camps for youth, and disadvantaged children.
Butt extended the philanthropic activities of the foundation to include building hospitals, libraries, and conducting more diverse retreat programs.
He spent most of his life encouraging and leading people to Christ, and was most fondly remembered for his one-minute radio program "The High Calling of our Daily Work," in which he encouraged people to always put God first in their occupations and do it the Lord. The program was broadcast on 3,000 radio stations across the country.
Butt is survived by his wife, Barbara Dan, three children, Howard III, Stephen and Deborah Dan Rogers, eight grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter, and two siblings Eleanor Butt Crook and Charles Butt.
"Howard E. Butt Jr. was a great friend of my father's and served alongside him in ministry for many years," Franklin Graham said. "He realized that every Christian is called to serve, not just those who have positions in ministry. For this reason, he was an early pioneer in the area of workplace ministry, encouraging the body of believers-whether they be businessmen, doctors, carpenters, or teachers-to see their work as their calling and to do it as unto the Lord."