Dennis Braswell Butler was born in Loganville, Georgia, October 13, 1913. He was raised, attended school, married and bought his first house ..all in Gwinnett Co. After sustaining critical injuries in a truck-3-car accident not too far away from his birthplace, he died in an Athens hospital on March 1, 1972. He was only 58 years old..too young to die. But he lived to see both his children grown and all four of his grandchildren born..the oldest, Scott was seven and the youngest, Jennifer was 1 1/2 years old.
Dennis was a happy, fun-loving, good Christian man. He loved his God, his immediate family, and his parents and siblings, his church and friends. His favorite book was the Bible, which he read and absorbed from every day. At the time of his death, he had family, friends and acquaintances from his entire life relate how much he had meant to them and what an outstanding example he had been to them..and that he seemed to always be smiling.
Dennis had such great times growing up..hunting, fishing, just being outdoors, and enjoying and loving his brothers and sisters. Some of his happiest adult times were when all the siblings got together! As children they were close and then as adults stayed close..helping and enjoying each other..laughing, knee slapping good times. He also had good memories of fun times with his grandmothers, especially the times when they lived with them. He related stories of Grandma Butler hunting and fishing with the kids..that she was just "one of them"..and had been known to come get them out of the field when they were working to go fishing. After his family, parents and brothers and sisters, he loved his nieces and nephews, especially David's children..there were so many of them to love. He often would stop by to see about David's family when they lived in Atlanta on his way home from work, just to check on them, but also to enjoy them. His family and friends were dear to him and ironically or providentially, he called and talked to almost everyone he loved and cared for " just to hear from them" the night before he died. He never desired or strove to make huge amounts of money and by most standards, never did. He wanted"just enough" to get by. Because he required and needed little, he was always happy in his jobs and with his life and satisfied with what he had. He always said he had " more than he needed". When he sold his first house in Atlanta, he would only sell and take the exact amount he had paid for the house originally, saying that was the way he should sell it. He had lived in that house for 15 or so years, enjoying it, trouble-free, and it wasn't right to make a lot of money off someone else just because he could. In the ways that truly count, he was a very rich man.
Dennis and Lyndell Virginia Brooks Butler met at Haynes Creek Primitive Baptist Church at an all day dinner-on-the grounds Sunday. Mama Butler was a member of the church and some of Lyndell's older maternal and paternal family members also belonged to the church. Although both Lyndell and Dennis were born and raised in Gwinnett County, they did not go to the same schools and did not meet until they were in their late teens. After meeting, they dated for a little over a year and were married December 9, 1934. They made a great couple, complementing each other. Dennis was laid-back, but hard working, saving, and diligent in everything he did. Lyndell was from a true farm family. She had been taught and was expected to work in the house, or in the fields, wherever she was needed. They both brought special talents to the marriage. They loved and cared for each other. Lyndell died in 2008, outliving Dennis for over 36 years. Only a few days before she died, drifting in and out of consciousness, she said something that I thought was about her dentist. I said "Mother, do you think you need to see the dentist when you get out of the hospital?" And in a strong voice, she said "No, see my Dennis, my Dennis Butler" I never knew if she saw or wanted to see Dennis. They had two children, Wilma Florence b 6/14/37 and Kenneth Ivan b 3/28/46 Dennis and Lyndell are buried side by side in the cemetery at the same Haynes Creek Church where they first met.
Lyndell was born and raised at her home place outside of Loganville. Her father, Nathan bought land from his father. His father's , George Brooks, home place is still standing on Rosebud Road. It has a stone wall in front of the house and is situated close to the road-just down from Hwy 78 and before Brooks Road. Just prior to and after marrying, Nathan built his house and all of the outbuildings on the land and lived there with his family until he was in his eighties.
Nathan first married Vera Florence Smith and after several bad pregnancies, Lyndell was born. She was only 4 years old when her mother died..it is thought from cancer. After about a year, Nathan married his brother's widow Leah, who had one son Ellis, and together they had six more children..all girls. Florence and Leah were sisters, Nathan and George were bothers..making Lyndell and Ellis double first cousins. Lyndell was raised by her father and her Aunt "Lee", but spent a lot of time helping and staying with both of her grandmothers. She was taught many skills: how to cook and clean, care for all the little children coming along, and also how to sew. This sewing talent was her profession later on , as well as a way to occupy many empty hours when she was much older and not able to leave the house often. She sewed and embroidered until a few months before her death.
When Dennis decided to ask for Lyndell's hand he went to her house(still standing on Brooks Road) in the daytime and asked Lyndell's Aunt Leah for permission to marry. Leah told Dennis he would have to go to the field where Nathan was working and ask him. So Dennis walked in good shoes and clothes into the field to ask Lyndell's father for his blessing and permission to marry her. Nathan said yes, but that she couldn't marry until she was 21. They married December 9, 1934. Lyndell was 21 in Jan 1935 and Dennis turned 21 in October 1934. According to custom at the time, they married at her home in the morning by Rev. Joe Leatch. Witnesses were Nathan and Leah Brooks and Dare Butler and Roy Moore. The wedding day Lyndell had to get up very early in the morning and help clean the house and cook the dinner to be eaten after the marriage service. They cooked a feast. Because Mama & Papa Butler didn't attend weddings Dennis and Lyndell went to see his parents. Mama Butler insisted they stay and eat and they did--collards and cornbread. When they went back to Lyndell's house neither of them could eat the dinner she helped cook. Dennis had a job delivering milk in Atlanta and so did Bud Reynolds. Bud said he would work for Dennis so he could be off, but as a joke he said " No , he couldn't work for him after all" And though Bud really intended to work for him, Dennis went on to work ..on his wedding day. So on their wedding day Lyndell had to clean and cook their wedding feast which they couldn't eat and Dennis had to work. It was still the start to a wonderful, happy, loving marriage.
Lyndell and Dennis lived on farmland that Lyndell had inherited from her mother receiving Florence's share of the Smith property on Old Loganville road. Lyndell and Dennis worked and saved together after marrying..farming and Lyndell worked at a mill in Loganville until they could buy and add on to the property that Lyndell had inherited. They kept the farm but moved to Atlanta when Wilma was about four, first to a rental home on Confederate Ave. to another rental house on Glendale Ave next to an Aunt of Lyndell's( it was nice to be by family) before buying a home on Mathews Ave. They lived there until 1968 when they bought their final home in Tucker. The children were grown and married and they were so thrilled to buy the house in Tucker. It was brick and only about two years old and it had a carport..imagine such luxury! To them it was truly grand. Aunt Jewell was so thrilled. She said all her married life she had wanted some family close by! Until Dennis died, almost every Friday evening after work , Bud, Jewell, Dennis and Lyndell got together to go out to eat and then usually to play cards at one of their houses. Bud and Dennis were very close and great fishing buddies. At the time of Dennis's death, Bud said he didn't know if he would be able to fish any more without Dennis.
At every house they ever had, it was constantly full of family..brothers, sisters, cousins, from either the Brooks or the Butlers..or just friends. Atlanta was like a foreign country and when one of their own went to work there or were just visiting, they would always stay with someone in the family. We had so many people live/stay with us, I can't begin to remember how many. Food was always made to "go around" and pallets of quilts were plentiful. Looking back, they were money poor, but no one ever really thought they were poor. They always had plenty to eat and a lot of food came from their families' farms. When family members "struck out" on their own they usually stayed nearby. Like Aunt Jewell, you always wanted family close.
Dennis' heart condition caused by rheumatic fever as a teen made him ineligible for the draft during WWII, but he kept up with his parents and family at home. He looked after everyone. However the armed services numbers became so low that even with Dennis' 4-F condition he was still notified to report to duty. The war ended just days before he was to be inducted. One of the first places the returnees came after arriving home was to see Dennis and Lyndell. Those were happy extraordinary days! Mama Butler had a flag in her window with four stars on it denoting four sons serving in the war. It was a true miracle that all four of her boys came back home to her alive.
Dennis and his mother were close..and always seemed to be on the same "wave-length". I think it's because they were by nature so much alike in personality and demeanor. He also looked more like her than Papa. He had a soft heart and gentle spirit so much like Mama Butler. When he was in Emory for his heart operation, I took a break from his room and went outside to find Mama Butler and sit with her. She was on a bench just outside by the steps. I sat down beside her and took her hand and looked into her face. She said "Oh Wilma,I've been out here praying for him. I'm so afraid he's going to die. You know, the good always die young." He didn't die then, did amazingly well, recovered in record time. I've always thought it was Mama Butler's prayer that helped save him. And thankfully she died before him and did not have to see any of her adult children die before her. After Dennis recovered and went back to work, every day he worked until Papa died and Mama moved from the house on 78 in Loganville, he stopped on his route to have breakfast with them and she usually cooked biscuits for him. We loved her biscuits. They were thin and crisp, browned just right and wonderful.
Ken and his wife Nancy, live in Conyers. His children, Dennis Scott b 1964 also lives in Conyers Ba. Kimberly Elise b 1965 lives with her family, husband John, daughters Kendall and Karley in Auburn Ala. Wilma lives in Ninety-Six SC with husband Norm Burgin. Their son Timothy Norman b 1966, his wife Rachael and children, Tori,Timmy,and Brian live in Little Rock Ark. and daughter Jennifer b 1970 and husband Michael live in Birmingham Ala. with their son Chandler.
Regretfully, Ken and I have not kept the family practice " to stay close and near family" and our family members do not see each other nearly as often as we'd like. Our distances apart are greater than the previous generations, but the love of family is still in our hearts..
Contributed by Wilma Butler Burgin and Ken Butler 11/15/09