October 17, 2011

A Faithful Life

Some people believe they are never too old to serve the Lord. Bonneetah Coulter is one of them. Possibly the oldest local church treasurer in North America, Coulter, 99, has retained the title of  treasurer of the Clayton Seventh-day Adventist Church in New Mexico for 39 years.
Not one for new technology, Coulter continues to enter all the figures into the books by hand—and her handwriting is exquisite. She also first figures the columns in her head, and then checks her answers with a calculator.
“The treasurer’s job is a very important position in the local church,” says David D. Freedman, vice president of finance for the Texico Conference. “Handling and reporting on the funds that God’s faithful people give allows the church board to understand income and expenses and to budget appropriately.
“Bonneetah is to be commended for her loyalty and commitment to God’s work,” Freedman adds. “No one but a treasurer would understand the time and effort required to do the job well. We all thank God for her willingness to serve Him and His people.”
Lifelong Faithfulness
The Clayton church comprises a faithful group of 15-20 members. This includes two of Coulter’s sons and two grandsons and their families. She and her late husband were instrumental in the establishment of the church in 1948. A strong believer in Christian education, Coulter drove her children 60 miles one way every weekday to the church school until she and her husband built a home near the school.

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Boneetah Coulter: A 99-year-old church treasurer who is still on the job

Hearing difficulties now prohibit her from teaching the adult Sabbath school class, as she did in her younger years, but Coulter continues to serve as the church pianist, playing the hymns she has known and loved throughout her life.
Church members and friends say Coulter is an inspiration to talk to because she continually expresses her thankfulness to the Lord for all His blessings. She enjoys memorizing Bible passages and favorite paragraphs from the writings of Ellen White, continuing a lifelong habit. At the age of 16 she memorized the entire book of Romans during a quarter when the Sabbath school lessons focused on that book of the Bible. Still today a stack of memory cards is attached to her treadmill, and she uses her walking time to pray and repeat texts and passages.
Although Coulter aspired to have a college education, the realities of the Great Depression of the 1930s made this dream impossible. During the Dust Bowl years that struck the Midwest, she and her family struggled to survive on their New Mexico ranch. She remembers how the cattle during that time were so thin that large hollows developed in their flanks. These filled with dust and in the spring were covered with green as seeds that had deposited began to grow. The cattle actually grazed off one another’s backs.
When Coulter was in her early 70s, signs of osteoporosis developed, and doctors told her that she was to begin walking regularly. Although it was difficult at first, she persevered and was soon walking five miles every day. She determined then to live as healthfully as she could. Since then she has worn out two treadmills, and she continues to walk 20-30 minutes each morning.
Coulter lives alone in her Texas Panhandle farm home with help from her two sons; a third son is deceased. She is also the mother of two daughters and boasts nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Valeetah Motschiedler, daughter of Bonneetah Coulter, is a retired nursing educator who enjoys traveling and bird-watching with her husband, Ed. This article was published October 13, 2011.