Molly Gay Lowder Butterfield, 88, died in Amarillo, Texas on March 21, 2022. Gay Lowder was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, but her parents soon moved to Amarillo for the dry climate to relieve Gay’s asthma. She graduated from Amarillo High in 1951. Her parents were Jessie and Albert Lowder, and Gay had three younger siblings: David Lowder, Henry Hamilton Lowder, and Melanie Lowder Grant. She married a fellow Amarilloan, Ed Butterfield, and spent most of her married life in El Paso, where she attended the University of Texas at El Paso and raised three beloved children, Tina, Rohn, and Gayle.
After Gay and Ed divorced in 1979, Gay began a career at Snelling and Snelling temporary labor service, serving as a full-time recruiter. While she was there, Gay discovered an excellent job with full benefits at Baxter Healthcare, where she worked to support her family from 1980 until she retired. After retirement, Gay returned to her hometown of Amarillo and was able to spend time with her brother, David, and her former sister-in-law, Dot Bybee. Gay became active at First Presbyterian Church, in the Red Hat Society, and in the Daughters of the American Revolution in Amarillo. Eventually, all three of Gay’s children moved to Amarillo to be near her, even though none of them grew up in the Panhandle.
Gay was the kind of Christian who understood that “pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress”. (James 1:27). Gay’s home was a safe house for many, including a childhood friend of Gayle’s who credits Gay with saving her by giving her frequent shelter from an abusive home. Gay also welcomed women escaping from alcoholic marriages, letting one new Al-Anon acquaintance and her two kids live in Gay’s house for more than two weeks. Gay also befriended three hungry neighborhood boys in Amarillo and fed them PB&J’s when they were left alone without parental supervision during the summers.
Gay loved her family and was beloved by them. She was a hilarious grandmother, dressing up as a cow to make cookies or offering her grandkids ice cream for breakfast. She broke a new office chair because she had such an enjoyable time pushing her grandkids in it on the patio. She was funny and kind, but not too genteel to occasionally flip off her smart-mouthed adult children.
Gay endured the loss of many loved ones during her long life, including the most heartbreaking loss of her oldest child, Tina, to pancreatic cancer in 2014. Her parents and her brother David also passed on before she did. Her much-loved Husky/Border Collie, Zach, also died before Gay.
Gay is survived by her son, Rohn Butterfield and his wife, Vicki Wilmarth, by her daughter Gayle Butterfield Ray and her husband, William Ray, all of Amarillo; by her grandchildren, Stephanie O’Neil, Hart Wilmarth, Aaron Ray,
and Matthew Ray; by her siblings, Hamilton Lowder of San Diego and Melanie Grant and her husband John Grant of Las Cruces, New Mexico; by her sisters-in-law, Jane Davison and Dot Bybee; and by many precious nieces, nephews, and friends.
Gay’s life will be celebrated on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Amarillo, 2525 Wimberly Rd., with the Rev. Will Ester presiding. Friends are invited to a reception at Rohn and Vicki’s house (across the street from Westminster Presbyterian) immediately following the service. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Meals on Wheels of Amarillo or Animal Rescue Shelter, Inc., of Amarillo, where Gay adopted Zach.